You’ve had the surgery, now you need the recovery. But what are the best foods for you in terms of recovering? How should your diet change—or stay the same—to assure a fast and safe recovery and get you back to the top of your game?
Ensuring you’re eating the best foods is all about ensuring the nutritional value of your foods. You want to get the most vitamins, minerals and fibers you can. That means eating whole, unprocessed foods. This doesn’t mean whole as in the entirety of the individual food but in that it wholly natural. Processing foods depletes them of their inherent nutritional value and the aspects that will help you recover faster. This means that fried vegetables, enriched flour, high fructose corn syrup are not going to aid in your recovery. If you want the best recovery, stick close to the Food Guide Pyramid.
Johns Hopkins University, renowned for their medical school, advises that sticking to the Food Guide Pyramid—likely the same one you’ve been taught in school—is the best way to assure a healthy recovery process. This means 6-11 servings of carbohydrates like bread and pasta, 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-4 of fruits, and 2-3 of both dairy and meat/protein.
This is the diet they recommend for the average person. Those people recovering from surgery should stick to this but with the possible amendments of upping their fruit and vegetable intake to about 10 servings per day. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins A, C, D and many of the variations of vitamin B—all crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system and supplying your body with the tools needed to rebuild the parts damaged from the surgery. Carbohydrates rich in fiber will also help prevent against the constipation precipitant from opiate-derived anesthetics and will help your muscles from breaking down. In addition, depending on the kind of surgery you have had, certain vitamins target specific areas more than others and taking supplements or just ensuring that you eat foods with plenty of these specific items will help expedite your recovery time. Vitamin A is a great antioxidant and can help with sight. Vitamin E is great for skin treatment and will help to reduce scar damage. If you can, in addition to taking the vitamin orally, break open the capsule and rub a bit of the vitamin onto the scar tissue. Vitamin A replenishes your mucous membranes and your tissue, making them stronger and more efficient; it is also fantastic for your eyes and could be a great addition to post eye surgery. Vitamin K, with its promotion of blood clotting, will be great to take in the early stages of your surgery. Make sure that you don’t overdue your vitamin intake with mega-doses as they can counteract your body’s natural healing hierarchy; also, do not attempt to replace fruits and vegetables with supplements, you will still need them in your diet.
Water is crucial in your recovery as it will help keep your muscles and soft tissue hydrated and aid in the wound healing process. It’s important to keep up with your water intake, approximately 8 cups of water per day at the very least. Some medications or antibiotics milk your body of its water supply in order to function properly and might require you to drink more. It might help to think of water as your body’s automotive oil, keeping everything lubricated and working properly.