There are over 48 million surgical procedures done every year, (72% of all surgeries are done on those over the age of 45). There could be several reasons leading up to the need for surgery: an accident, a fall, a chronic health condition or anything for that matter! The recovery process is as important as the surgery itself – recovering from hip replacements, cataract surgery, fracture repair, cancer operations, biopsies, heart surgery and back operations are said to be the hardest. Your recovery speed after surgery is primarily governed by what you eat.
Undergoing a surgical procedure creates a stress reaction in the body that elevates metabolism and increases our need for calories, which is why our body needs more calories in order to recover. We need the right kind of food to recuperate and avoid complications that are very likely to arise post-surgery. Every type of surgery, even planned and elective surgeries cause trauma to your body. After a surgical procedure, you are at a higher risk of:
- Decreased mobility
- Weight loss or gain
- Loss of energy and motivation
There are a few key things you can do to ensure a smooth transition from the hospital to your home. One of the most important things to focus on while healing from surgery is nutrition.
The 10 Best Foods to Eat After Surgery to Promote Healing
Post-surgery, your body needs energy and nutrition to accelerate the healing process, fight off infections, boost your strength and maintain your nutrient stores. Listed below are the 10 best foods that do exactly that. These healing foods are delicious and can easily be included in your daily diet.
A powerhouse of antioxidants that help the body repair faster from damage. Are you aware of the fact that berries are an excellent source of vitamin C? Vitamin C helps in rebuilding collagen and soft tissue, which means that vitamin C will help your incision site to heal quickly.
Fruits with antioxidants: Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, goji berries, grapes, pomegranates.
Your daily diet must include a good portion of veggies. They’re a healthy source of carbohydrates, which helps you battle fatigue commonly felt after returning from the hospital. Carbohydrates play a vital role in stopping your muscles from breaking down and providing energy to your brain. One of the most significant benefits of a diet high in vegetables is the presence of fiber, which reduces constipation – a common side effect of pain medication.
Essential vegetables to be included: Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, potatoes, sweet bell peppers.
3. Fats in fish, oils, nuts
Always remember, healthy fats are your friend. Especially after surgery, healthy fat helps your body absorb all those useful vitamins you get from veggies and fruits. Fat is essential because it strengthens your immune system and reduces your chances of infection. They are also a long-lasting source of energy. Fats in nuts like almonds are rich in vitamin E, which is required for wounds to heal faster and to reduce the appearance of scars.
Healthy fats: Olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, oils in all nuts and seeds.
4. Dark Leafy Greens
A good serving of greens on your plate or in your smoothie suffices your dose of vitamin A, C, E and K. Vitamin K is used by the body to help blood to cllot. With more leafy greens in your diet, you will also be absorbing the B-complex vitamins, which significantly help to boost energy levels. Greens are like multivitamins – they are a source of fiber, magnesium, iron, calcium and potassium.
Vitamin-rich dark leafy greens: Spinach, kale, swiss chard, romaine lettuce, mustard greens, bok choy.
Adequate amounts of protein are required by the body, especially as you grow older. Following surgery, however, the body needs high levels of protein and iron. Surgical procedures damage movement and manipulate your muscles, leaving them in much need of repair. Amino acids present in meat help to repair muscle damage by regenerating tissue and speeding up wound healing. Also, the iron present in meat helps to regain energy levels as it creates new blood cells. Digesting or even chewing tougher meats after surgery can be painful, try eating slow-cooked meat in sauces or ground meats.
Stock up on protein and iron food: Poultry, eggs, seafood, tofu, beans and lentils.
Nature’s source of an ideal healing food. Eggs are a traditional first food item for individuals recovering from surgery to eat and are the easiest to prepare and serve.
One egg contains: Vitamins A, E and K, 6 Grams of protein, B complex vitamins (including B12), folic acid, riboflavin, calcium, zinc and iron.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that your body needs post-surgery. They help digest food, provide mental balance and fight off all the infections and germs that you are prone to after surgery. Surgery can be harsh on your body, anesthetics, antibiotics and painkillers upset your gut, leaving you with digestive upsets and constipation. Following surgery, a healthy dose of probiotics can help to regulate your digestive system.
Probiotic-rich foods: Yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut.
8. Brightly colored fruits
A bowl full of the brightest fruits and veggies serves as a good dose of vitamin A, C, fiber, carbohydrates, antioxidants and nutritious calories. These are essential for your body to bounce back. Fiber is a must post-surgery to avoid the discomfort of constipation. Brightly colored fruits provide fiber along with vitamins and energy-boosting carbs. Not only are fruits a powerhouse of healing nutrition, but they’re also light on the stomach if consumed in small, regular portions.
Brightly coloured fruits: Apples, berries, melons, peaches, apricots, grapefruit, mango, papaya and tomatoes.
9. Whole Grains
Eating plenty of whole grains post-surgery will provide carbohydrates to your body. Carbs in whole grains stop your muscles from breaking down as well as giving you another dose of required fiber. Surgery makes you feel tired and worn out; the right kind of carbs can bring your energy levels up. Although the bulk of minerals and vitamins comes from veggies, fruits, proteins and healthy fats, carbohydrates are an essential part of the healing puzzle.
Whole Grains: Apples, steel-cut oats, quinoa, wild rice.
It is one of the most important things we need after surgery. Don’t forget our body is made up of 55-65% water. Dehydration is common after surgery and maintaining adequate levels of hydration will help your body to recover quickly. The requirement of fluids for the body totally depend on the medication and the type of surgery and individual has had.
If drinking plain water is boring, try different combinations: Water with lemon or lime, herbal tea, coconut water, high water content foods like soups.
Tips for Fast Recovery
Give yourself the best possible chance for a speedy recovery from surgery by stocking up on nature’s best medications – healing foods. Consult your doctor about your post-surgery diet as the type of healing food will depend on the surgery. Irrespective of your restrictions, this list of healing foods will definitely benefit you. These foods speed up the healing process, decrease infections and increase your strength and energy.