When you are recovering from surgery, what you put into your body has a significant impact on your recovery process. The right foods will give you the nutrients that your body needs to rebuild tissue and heal properly.
The right foods can also help stave off post surgery complications, such as constipation. While eating well is important regardless of whether you are pre-surgical, post-surgical, or just living day to day, when your body is in recovery mode it is absolutely vital.
As you modify your diet, focus on whole foods. These are foods that have minimal or no processing. The best way to do that is to shop the “horseshoe” of the supermarket: produce, dairy, and meats.
Processed foods tend to be high in sodium, preservatives, fat, sugar, and other things you really don’t want in your body. They also have less nutrients and fiber. It is best to avoid them altogether.
These five foods are whole, natural foods that will help speed healing after surgery. Incorporate them into your own diet and you will be amazed at how your body responds when it is nourished with natural goodness.
Kale is an amazing food, chock full of vitamins, such as A, C, E, B-complex, and folate. It is also high in fiber, which offers many health benefits.
This makes it very effective in providing the building blocks for healing, as well as preventing constipation. Add some to your salad or cook it with a little garlic and olive oil (toss in some fresh spinach for an added boost), or make some kale chips.
To make homemade kale chips, wash whole kale leaves thoroughly, tear them into pieces, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, coarse ground pepper, and garlic (or any spices you like – add some cayenne for a Cajun kick). Bake at 300 degrees for about 7 minutes or until the kale is crispy. Store in a freezer bag and enjoy as a tasty snack or salad topping.
Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries are packed with vitamin C and other important nutrients. They are also very high in antioxidants, which work at the cellular level to encourage healing.
An added benefit of including berries in your diet is that they are also mood boosting. On those days following surgery, when you can’t get out and do the things you want to do, a handful of berries and help chase away the blues (a handful or two of cashews is also very effective for fighting depression as well).
Mix your berries in with your yogurt or cereal. You can also cook them down with some honey to serve with chicken or fish. Of course you can snack on them just as they are; they’re certainly delicious that way too.
Water is extremely important all the time, but especially after surgery. It helps keep your body hydrated, which aids in digestion and helps prevent constipation.
It also helps to minimize possible effects of post-surgery, such as light headedness, fatigue, headache, and nausea. Some tea is okay, but you should have at least several glasses of pure water a day.
If you just can’t handle plain water try squeezing some lemon or lime into it. You can also make your own fruit water. Wash an unpeeled orange, apple, berries or other fruit (if you are getting the fruit from the grocery store you may want to give it a cool vinegar bath first, then wash it).
Slice the whole fruit into quarter or half inch slices and place in the bottom of a gallon pitcher. Fill the pitcher with water and place in the refrigerator. After a couple of hours you will have fruit infused water. Adjust the amount of fruit according to your own taste.
Various medications, antibiotics, and anesthesia can wreak havoc on your gut, particularly your bowels. Yogurt with active cultures will provide your body with probiotics that will help keep your digestive system in balance.
It is also effective in protecting against c-diff, a common bacterial infection that occurs in the intestines and bowels. You also get a boost of calcium, which has numerous healing benefits.
Mix some fresh berries or other fruit with your yogurt, top it with some high fiber cereal, or stir in some honey and pure vanilla for a tasty fruit dip. You can also mix sea salt, curry, and a little garlic with some plain yogurt and coat chicken breasts. Bake the chicken until done and serve with a quinoa pilaf and some veggies for a healthy, healing dinner.
5. Chicken and Fish
Protein is absolutely integral to healing. Chicken and fish are packed with protein, are lean, and are easier to digest than red meat. Thus, they are kinder to your overwrought digestive system.
Fish is also high in zinc and Omega 3 fatty acids, both very important to the body, particularly during the healing process. Wild caught salmon and tuna are some of the Omega 3 powerhouses but other types of seafood contain zinc so go ahead and mix it up.
Treat your body well and it will keep you well. When you are putting good, clean fuel in you will find that you have more energy and faster healing. You will also find that your mood is better. So eat fresh and eat well.
For more nutrition information, contact Olde Del Mar Surgical today and see how our dietitians can guide you through surgery and beyond.