Diet and Nutrition to Help Your Body Go Through Surgery

Diet and Nutrition to Help Your Body Go Through Surgery

In most cases, surgeries are scheduled early enough to give you time for preparation. And as much as you need to prepare yourself emotionally, there is another thing you need to have in mind. When you undergo a surgery, your body is put under tremendous amounts of stress, so it is also necessary to prepare your body for what’s coming. One way you can and should do this is through nutrition.

What you eat is very important even when you’re perfectly healthy, but even more so when you have health issues or you’re having a procedure for any reason. If you aren’t sure what you should or shouldn’t eat before and after your procedure, here are some guidelines.

Pre-surgery nutrition

Four weeks before your surgery, you should start boosting your immune system. You do this in order to provide your body with the strength and stamina it needs to go through the procedure.

Vitamin C is a good start. It’s an antioxidant that protects your cells from pollutants, preventing bruising. Fruits rich in vitamin C include citruses such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit, but also strawberries, papaya, kiwi, mango and pineapple. As far as vegetables are concerned, vitamin C can be found in Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, red and green bell peppers and chili peppers.

B-complex supports your immune system at a cellular level, so be sure to eat foods rich in these vitamins. They include folic acid, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, biotin, pantothenic acid, as well as vitamins B6 and B12. Some foods are rich in only one type of B vitamin, but other foods contain more of them.

For example, folic acid can be found in spinach, asparagus, beans, peas, avocado, as well as in citruses. You can find thiamin in cereals and ham, niacin in turkey, peanuts and mushrooms, riboflavin in beef liver, milk and yoghurt, biotin in bananas, nuts and sunflower seeds, pantothenic acid in chicken liver, salmon and corn. Vitamin B6 is found in turkey breast, pistachios and tuna, while foods rich in B12 include clams, oysters, crabs, sardines, beef and milk.

Vitamin D improves your immune system, balances you hormones and assists your bones in absorbing calcium. It’s called the sunshine vitamin, since exposure to sunlight is necessary for our body to synthesize Vitamin D from cholesterol, so taking walks outside is essential, but in combination with eating fish like sardines, salmon and mackerel.

Vitamin E may lower your blood pressure, prevent blocked arteries and help boost your immune system in the process. It can be found in sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and almonds.

In preparation for your surgery, it’s important to include foods rich in antioxidants in your diet. These are foods like garlic, eggplant and pumpkin, but also various types of tea (especially green tea), spices (like oregano and thyme), seafood, nuts and seeds.

Hydration is also something you need to pay attention to, so be sure to drink enough water, preferably filtered or bottled. Water helps clear medications from your body through the liver. You should also work on strengthening your gut by taking probiotics or eating kefir or sauerkraut.

A week before your surgery, you should start avoiding certain foods, since they might prolong your healing time, have a negative effect on your immune system, increase bleeding, or even interfere with how your anesthesia works.

These include vitamins E, C, K and B-complex, but also green tea, potatoes, eggplant and garlic – these can influence bleeding time and anesthesia. Refined sugars will affect your immune system for the worse, so avoid them as much as possible. Allergenic foods, like soy, wheat, eggs and peanuts should be eliminated completely from your diet, or at least reduced to a minimum. And finally, try to stay away from alcohol, caffeine and aspartame.

Post-surgery nutrition

There are more and less invasive surgeries. After some of the more invasive ones you might lose your appetite, but there are nutrients your body will need in order to heal, so try to keep your diet adjusted to the state and needs of your body.

For example, you can have minimally invasive liposuction, which means there is less swelling, trauma or bruising, not to mention shorter healing time, but there are still foods you need to eat more and those you should avoid before and after the procedure to help your body cope.

If your pre-surgery diet was adequate, your immune system should be strong, so the food you eat after your procedure should assist your body in recovering and  reduce pain, inflammation and swelling.

You should continue eating, but avoid the same foods you did before the surgery. Now, you ought to add some nutrients to your diet too. For instance, you will need protein from meat, fish, eggs, turkey or beans. This is because collagen, the protein your body contains the most of, helps bind the tissue back together. Increase the intake of fermented dairies like yogurt and kefir in order to restore the beneficial bacteria in your gut.

To avoid congestion, you should include fiber in your diet. A few prunes, apples, pears or some oatmeal every day should help soften the stool and regulate your digestion. The antioxidant properties of strawberries, blackberries, cherries and pomegranates will eliminate or reduce maximally the harmful free radicals in your body.

Avocado, sour cherries and extra-virgin olive oil have an anti-inflammatory effect, so feel free to consume them during the post-op period.

Although it’s extremely important what you eat after your procedure, what you don’t eat can be just as significant. Fast food contains saturated fats, so avoid them, as well as fried foods, pastries and full-fat dairy products. Instead, opt for fresh fruit and vegetables to quicken your healing process.

Another thing that can slow down your healing is sodium, so avoid salty snacks like crackers and chips, and season your food with basil, oregano and parsley. Sugary foods usually lack vitamins, minerals and other useful nutrients, so the only thing you can gain from them is weight, and gaining weight can only slow down your recovery.

Being aware of what foods reduce your pain and swelling and shorten your healing time means a lot. Following advice found online can be useful, but don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor for any further recommendations. Each surgery or procedure is different, so before having yours, consulting a specialist is something you should do.