Nurturing back to health post-surgery

After surgery, your body has gone through a major change and focusing on nutrition can mean the difference between quickly bouncing back and a lengthy recovery. This is extremely important because deficiencies after surgery can slow down the normal recovery process and reduce your chances for an optimal recovery by:

• Helping your system replace any blood loss

• Helping your incisions heal

• Providing the raw materials your immune system needs to avoid infection

• Increasing your level of energy

• Help repair your skin, nerves, blood vessels, muscle and bone.

On average, a person can expect to lose five to 10 per cent of their total body weight after surgery. Protein is needed to repair tissue, slow muscle catabolism and decrease the inflammatory phase. Post-operative protein requirements range from 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For elective surgery, the lower end of the range is sufficient. For major surgery, the higher end of the spectrum is more appropriate.

Good sources of protein include:

• Eggs

• Chicken

• Milk

• Peanuts/ peanut butter

• Yogurt

• Kidney beans

• Spinach, broccolli, green leafy vegetables

Constipation is common after surgery due to the effects of the anesthesia (which slows down your digestive tract) and the oral pain medication you may be taking. Nothing kills your appetite faster than feeling too full and bloated to eat due to constipation.

Adding more fiber rich foods to your post-surgery diet may help prevent the after effects of your surgery. However, if you're not used to eating a high-fiber diet, start slow. Too much fiber too fast may exacerbate your constipation

High fiber foods include:

• Oatmeal

• Fruits

• Lentils

• Bran cereals

Make sure you're drinking plenty of fluids following your surgery to prevent constipation. Certain nutrients are especially important for healing after surgery, including vitamin C and zinc. Include plenty of vitamin C-rich foods in your diet, such as oranges, red peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and cantaloupe. These vitamin C foods are also good sources of fiber, so they play dual duty. Zinc also supports wound healing after surgery by assisting in the production of protein and keeping your immune system in tip-top shape.