Recently a very dear friend of mine had to undergo surgery. His stay in the hospital was for 3 days and I was with him most of the time. This gave me a lot of learning and insights about recovery process and healing of the body during the post surgery period. I used the time to research about many topics such as faster recovery after surgery, Foods That Help Heal After Surgery etc. I am happy to share some useful findings in this blog.
Needs of Body After Surgery To Recover
If you have recently had or are about to have surgery or if you have been injured in an accident you can improve your chances of a quicker recovery. Surgery is like an attack on the body (though for the beneficial purpose). Although surgery is sometimes necessary treatment or procedure to help improve your health, or save your life, recovering from it can be very stressful on many levels.
Thus the body makes a lot of demands to heal and to return to your normal life. Naturally healthy diet is essential in recovering after surgery. It hardly needs to be emphasized that after surgery or the accident, the body needs all the nutrients in the form of calories, proteins, minerals and vitamins so that it gets strength and energy to fully recover from the massive attack on the body. Eating the wholesome and balanced foods after surgery helps decrease risk of infection and speed up healing of the incisions or the wounds.
Of course, there are always specific factors to be considered such as the age of the patient, previous history of ailments such as diabetes, and allergies, if any. But in general the basic recommendations are same and they can be suitably adjusted to suit individual taste, interest and specific needs.
Therefore, the family members taking care of the patient need to ensure that the post-surgery diet is packed with a proper balance of carbohydrates, proteins, calories, minerals and vitamins.
Foods That Help Heal After Surgery
Here are some foods and nutrients that one should focus on in the post-surgery diet:
After surgery, doctors often ask the patient if he is experiencing constipation. This is so because prescription pain medications often have a side effect of decreasing the movement of the intestines. Since constipation in general is unhealthy and specifically after a surgical process it may enhance the pain level and put additional stress on the incision, so it is important to avoid constipation as much as possible.
While there are foods can help prevent or treat constipation, some other foods that can make constipation more likely.
For a better bowel movement, it is important to include fiber in the diet as high-fiber foods play an important role in preventing constipation. Hence it is healthier choice over low-fiber foods
High Fiber Foods choices:
Whole grain breads – Look for breads that use whole grains and are darker in color. Generally white bread is made from refined flour having very little of fiber content.
Fruits – Fresh fruits are abundant in vitamins and fiber.
Vegetables – fresh Vegetables are good source of fiber, minerals and vitamins.
Having sufficient protein is essential for healing, as amino acid from protein is referred to as building blocks.
The amino acids in protein help the wounds to heal and regenerate the tissues. Protein consumption also helps the body gain strength and energy. It is recommended to go in for lean meats such as chicken, turkey, seafood and eggs as these are good sources of protein. For vegetarians, the options for getting protein are nuts, beans and tofu. Dairy products also contain protein, but avoid them if your tummy is sensitive or you are bothered with constipation. If you are not able to get enough protein in your normal diet after surgery, you may try adding protein powder to drinks or smoothies. Some people find it easy to sip on the shake and they may add fruits like berries or bananas.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Vitamins and minerals should be the most important nutrients in your post-surgery diet. Vitamin A is present in orange and dark green vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, kale and spinach. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, melons, berries, potatoes, and sweet bell peppers. Vitamin C is helpful with wound healing Vitamin D is present in milk, fish, eggs and fortified cereals. Vitamin D is good for bone health. Vitamin E protects the body from free radicals and is present in vegetable oils, nuts, beef liver, milk and eggs. Vitamin K is available in green leafy veggies, fish, liver and vegetable oils. It is necessary for blood clotting.
Zinc (present in meat, seafood, dairy and beans) and iron (found in meat and poultry, beans, apricots, eggs, whole grains and iron-fortified cereals) are also helpful for wound healing and energy post surgery recovery.
Beets, dandelion greens, parsley, mustard greens, carrots and fresh lemon juice are wonderful to support liver function. At this stage the liver plays crucial role of purifying blood, remove toxic residue from anesthesia and other medications. It also helps to flush away waste products of all kinds.
The foods you should and shouldn’t eat can vary on the type of surgery and any medications you may be on. Be sure to talk with your doctor about your specific post-surgery dietary requirements.
Low energy level / fatigue are common problems challenging the patients who have undergone any surgical procedure. Therefore, it is through eating the right kinds of carbohydrates can help restore the energy levels. High-fiber foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and beans and legumes are good source of carbs. These foods will boost energy levels without causing constipation.
Healthy fats in reasonable quantities can be had from olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, nuts and seeds. Good fat will improve immune response and aid the body’s absorption of vitamins. Fat also help increase energy levels after surgery.
Foods to avoid during post surgery period
It is best to go in for fresh food and freshly cooked food. Hence processed foods are best given a miss as they may carry more than usual amounts of fat, sugar, salt, preservatives and other kinds of chemical additives. At the same time the processed foods may not provide enough quantities of nutritious minerals, fiber and vitamins compared to home cooked whole food.
For example, an orange or an apple would be a whole food compared to orange juice or apple juice in a can or tetra pack as the latter are processed versions and clearly lacking in natural fiber and not fresh. Similarly a baked potato at home would be a healthier food choice for the patient, than opting for frozen a French fries which would be a processed and less healthy choice since it is deep fried.
While the body is recuperation and trying to get back to its normal state, it is best to avoid following categories of foods:
- Processed Foods
- Junk Food
- Sweets and sugary foods – such as cakes, pastries, candies etc.
- Red Meat
- Sodas, Alcohol
These can also help in holistic healing after surgery
- Drink plenty of water: It is necessary to stay hydrated after surgery. Proper hydration helps the body absorb medications following surgery. Ensure that you drink at least eight glasses of water ( about 3 liters) every day .
- Fresh Air and Sunlight: which means enough oxygen and sunshine are important for healthy body. Be sure that your room has good ventilation for good recovery.
- Hygiene: To avoid chances of infection / bacterial growth it is essential to maintain good general and local hygiene. Therefore, bathing or showering as allowed or at least good sponge bath can be helpful to remove toxins eliminated by the skin.
- Cheerful Environment: Plant fresh flowers and / or green plants in the patient’s room to cheer up the mood.
- Motivate yourself: Read magazine articles or books make you feel good, positive. Same goes for the TV programs and movies especially that make you happy and laugh. Laughter is very healing!
- Imbibe Positivity: Take phone calls or allow only visitors with a positive mental outlook, people that make you feel happy.
- Help from Spirituality: Prayer, Healing Prayer, Meditation, Divine Mantra Music (or music therapy or healing music), Positive Visualization and Health and Healing Affirmations are some of the components holistic healing. Together or individually they can have wonderful affect on body aiding it to get well soon. You may also play the prayer video, given below.
A word of caution
Each body is unique and each case is medically different. Therefore, be sure to communicate with your doctor and surgeon and heed their advice about the best course of treatment and right diet. This purpose of this blog is to share helpful general information. Ask your medical team if there are any restrictions regarding movement, climate diet, medications, or alternative therapies.
Wish you / your dear one a quick recovery and good health!
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