Getting home from the hospital after a surgery may be a relief, but the time at home is just as important in the healing process. In fact, a lot of the recovery process is just beginning! Adjustments need to be made, especially when it comes to diet. Eating the right foods will promote healing and prevent complications, as well as minimize the bruising and inflammation that occurs post-surgery.
First off, there are a few things we noticed doctors often say to avoid: sweets, processed foods, dairy products and red meat are likely to cause constipation. Cutting these off your list might be tough, but it will be a great benefit towards your health and recovery, especially as these foods also tend to have higher sugar, fat and artificial preservatives.
The exception to the no dairy suggestion comes in the form of fermented products, such as yogurt or kefir. The active cultures in these foods will help repopulate your digestive tract with good bacteria, which are killed off by the antibiotics routinely prescribed after surgery.
Surgery also comes with pain meds, anesthesia, dehydration and interruptions to diet and physical routine, all of which impact the digestive system. As mentioned above, constipation is a common side effect after surgery. To avoid this, doctors recommend eating foods rich in fiber, such as prunes, beans and legumes, flaxseed, bran, and pears, as well as drinking lots of water.
In addition to fibrous foods, it’s important to include sources of lean protein in your diet. After surgery, the body requires more protein than it normally does in order to repair the surgical wound and lacerations to the skin. Red meat, which is high in saturated fat, is likely to cause constipation (as is dairy), so instead, try lean products such as chicken, turkey, or fish. Vegetarians should try to include more tofu, beans or nuts.
Eating fresh produce is also encouraged by healthcare professionals after a surgical procedure, as it is a great source of vitamins and antioxidants. Try stocking up on fruits that are deep in color -- raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries -- because in addition to being antioxidant-rich, they also enhance the effects of vitamin C and strengthen capillaries and the collagen matrix.
Vitamin C is a crucial vitamin because it helps with the production of collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, found in the muscles, tendons, bones, blood vessels, skin and the digestive system, and its production is essential to the quick and proper healing of wounds. Unfortunately, Vitamin C is often depleted by the stress of surgery. To get it back up, try eating foods like citrus fruit, guava, kiwi, kale or bell peppers.
Finally, health experts suggest incorporating foods that are proven to boost immune health into your new diet as a means of fighting off possible infection. This means things like cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage) and mushrooms, as well as foods that are high in zinc, such as pumpkin or sesame seeds. Zinc is instrumental in activating cells that are essential to immunity and responsible for cell growth in general.
Getting back into the groove of things after surgery can be tough, but with a little bit of patience and a wealth of good, nutritious food, you’ll be feeling your best again in no time!
We are not qualified medical professionals and are simply trying to aggregate information that may be relevant to you at this time - if you have any questions or concerns about your diet, you should speak to your doctor.