The Role of Nutrition in Your Surgical Recovery

August 30, 2018

Injury, medical necessity and even cosmetic reasons can result in surgery over your life. Sometimes recovering from this surgery can be a journey.

 


Healing speed is multifactorial and depends on your age, health, medical conditions, and nutrition.

Further, discomfort and pain can be daunting during the healing process. But there are ways which allow recovery to proceed in a faster, natural, way without recovery complications can be important to help both your physical and emotional wellbeing following surgery.

 

With that in mind, out of the many factors that the affect wound healing and surgical recovery, nutrition is one you CAN control. Here are a few of the most important ways that good nutrition can encourage and enhance your surgical recovery.

 

Incorporating Healing Foods

 

When healing, one of the most important things to consider is your diet.

 

Food intake can both be a hindrance and a great boost to your healing process, depending on whether or not you eat the right foods with nutrients that promote healing.

 

Understanding and changing your diet to include some of these foods is vital to your long-term healing ability.

 

Some essential foods for healing include:

  • Nuts & Seeds - a good source of zinc, there are plenty of nuts and seeds which can help with the speed of your recovery. This is because zinc is an important nutrient for wound healing; and pumpkins, squash and sesame seeds, in particular, have large amounts. Nuts and seeds can also be a positive source of omega fatty acids, which can be especially important if you typically have a vegan or vegetarian diet as they can take the place of fish (the typical source of this omega).
     

 

  • Fungi - mushrooms are one of the best ingredients to help support an overall healthy immune system. This can help reduce your chance of infection post-surgery[1]. Shitake and Maitakes mushrooms, in particular, are excellent at reducing inflammatory proteins in the body[2].
     

  • Protein - the importance of collagen in tissue [3] cannot be understated, especially as it will help to knit your skin back together following surgery. As a protein - the most abundant in the body, in fact - there are plenty of ways you can introduce more into your diet. This does not have to rely solely on red meat, as you can eat more eggs, fish, turkey, beans and similar for additional protein also.
     

  • Amino Acids - Branched chain amino acids are amongst some of the most important supplements for improving recovery available. In particular, the glutamine and arginine strains of amino. This is because glutamine is particularly useful for warding off infection when your immune system may be compromised and arginine works as a vasodilator. This means that it helps to dilate blood vessels and create more blood flow throughout your body. Foods rich in both the amino acid glutamine and arginine includes turkey, pork loin, chicken, as well as soybeans, peanuts, and various dairy products.
     

  • Sweet Potatoes - a superb source of pro-vitamin A (that the body converts to simply vitamin A, sweet potatoes can help boost soft tissue regrowth in your body. The sweet potato is also much less starchy than its cousin the regular potato, with much more fiber per serving.
     

  • Vitamin C - one helpful tip that many put forward when it comes to surgery recovery is that a patient should receive vitamin C. This is because, as a vitamin, it is vital to the synthesis of collagen in the body. This means that it helps to protect the cells from damage by free radicals. This, in turn, can help to speed up the healing process of wounds in some situations. Good sources of this include broccoli, peppers, spinach, leafy greens in general, tomatoes, potatoes (both white and sweet), as well oranges and other fruits.
     

  • Probiotics - Lastly, foods with probiotic cultures can also be helpful to normalize microbiome after surgery. They have been linked to faster wound healing, lower rates of surgical site infections, as well as other infectious complications. Probiotic foods include natural yogurt, tempeh, kimchi, miso, pickles and kombucha (though you can also find specific probiotic drinks as well).

 

Nutritional Supplements

 

Though you can improve your diet naturally there are other ways for you to improve the healing process. During healing your body needs much higher amounts of essential nutrients in order to support itself through the process.

 

Protein, vitamin A and C, and zinc are all needed to help skin and tissue recover from trauma to major surgery, and even elective surgery such as breast augmentation[4].

 

As you will be weaker following surgery and your appetite may be lower, it may not be possible for your body to receive all of this naturally via your food alone, which is why supplements can be a big advantage in such circumstances.

 

Wound healing and nutritional intake are both difficult to monitor, but vital if you want to ensure your long-term health and successful healing process.

 

Be Proactive

 

 

Above all else when it comes to your post-surgery recovery you need to be proactive.

 

This is far and above the most important factor in your recovery, actually putting yourself in a position to make a noticeable difference to your health.

 

This means making sure you take charge of your diet and nutrition, get exercise (as much as your wound allows) and socialize. Wound healing is as much mental as it is physical[5], so you need to have a good attitude in place before anything else.

 

It is easy to feel down and disheartened following surgery, the real effort is picking yourself back up again and moving forward with your life. In doing so your healing process may even surprise you.

 

Conclusions

 

Providing your body with all of the nutrients and necessities you need to recover can be a tough task, but well worth it if you manage to speed up your recovery effectively.

 

A good nutritional program can help accelerate your healing time, getting you back to 100% much faster than if you relied on painkillers alone. Positivity and a social life can also help to boost your healing process, so don’t let your surgery recovery keep you down - take charge of your healing!

 

Citations:

  1. https://www.thedailymeal.com/cook/10-foods-will-help-you-heal-after-surgery-slideshow/slide-6

  2. http://blogs.natureshappiness.com/shiitake-mushrooms-boost-immunity-and-reduce-inflammation/

  3. https://www.puori.com/blog/2015/09/30/what-is-collagen#

  4. http://www.garylross.com/

  5. http://www.healthtalk.org/peoples-experiences/intensive-care/intensive-care-patients-experiences/emotional-aspects-recovery


General Disclaimer:
All information here is for educational purposes only and is not meant to cure, heal, diagnose nor treat. This information must not be used as a replacement for medical advice, nor can the writer take any responsibility for anyone using the information instead of consulting a healthcare professional.  All serious disease needs a physician.