Recovery – Diet

Following surgery you may find that you have an intolerance for certain foods, particularly foods which are high in artificial sugars, sweeteners, and fats such as crisps, chocolates, cakes etc. This is because your body cannot break down these foods effectively and rejects them. It is important to follow a healthy diet and to follow the nutritional advice of your doctor or surgeon.

You can take steps to speed your recovery even before you go under the knife. Good nutrition and supplementation will help to ensure that small wounds heal quickly. Healthy immune systems also protect you from infection. In addition, the following herbs and supplements are well known for helping the body heal more quickly following surgery or trauma.

Zinc: Best taken before surgery, zinc reduces wound healing time, rapidly reduces wound size, and bolsters your immune system to help prevent infection. Topical zinc, such as calamine lotion, also reduces bacteria growth on the surface of skin, helping to prevent infection. 30 mg/day, taken orally for four to six weeks, will bring your levels up to par before surgery. If you undergo surgery in a zinc deficient state, your recovery time will be lengthened, so be sure to test and supplement your zinc levels, if necessary, well before any planned surgical procedures in order to ensure the best recovery.•Vitamin C: According to the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, levels of this vital compound actually drop in burn victims, post-op patients, and other victims of physical trauma. The minimum required intake of vitamin C to maintain healthy bodily function is about 300mg to 1g per day following surgery or other procedures.

Vitamin C is required to make collagen, the connective tissue in the skin that helps healing and prevents blistering. Vitamin C strengthens scar tissue and also helps reduce tissue death. It also helps to strengthen the immune system and fight off infection.

It is important that you do not take synthetic forms of vitamin C such as Ascorbic acid which is not the same thing as full-spectrum vitamin C. Get your vitamin C from nutritional supplements or superfoods made from plants. Good sources are rose hips andPure Camu— a product from the Amazon Herb Company that’s made from camu camu berries (the highest natural source of vitamin C in the world). (See…)

The Amazon Herb Company also makes a high-grade Camu C Serum product that’s excellent for wound care. It’s positioned as a high-end skin care product, but many people use it directly on wounds to speed healing. See:…

Bromelain:An enzyme found in the stems of pineapples, is useful for reducing post-op swelling. It acts as an anti- inflammatory and boosts the immune system to reduce pain, bruising & tenderness. It is a natural supplement that works the same way as Ibuprofen, the only difference being that bromelain will not harm your liver.

If you decide to take anti-inflammatory supplements following surgery, however, remember that inflammation is not always a bad thing. It is often your body’s way of bringing blood and nutrients to the area that needs healing. Conventional doctors tend to take the view that all inflammation is bad, but that’s a limited view of the body’s adaptive response to trauma. Inflammation actually serves an important healing purpose.

A great rainforest herbal product that eases inflammation is Recovazon offered by the Amazon Herb Company. It eases inflammation and speeds injury recovery.

Chlorella: Japanese studies have found Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF) to be especially effective in speeding up cell growth, a major factor in the natural repair of wounds. CGF helps heal ulcers and promotes bone and muscle growth. When taken internally, it also acts as an immune-booster. Topically, it functions as a protective cleansing compound for skin.Chlorella is found in numerous superfoods and superfood products, including Rejuvenate! from Health Products Distributors, Inc. at

You can also find chlorella in a variety of products at health food stores such as Holland & Barrett. Chlorella varies widely in quality. One of the best brands of chlorella is Yaeyama (from Japan).

Gotu kola: This herb has been used for centuries in Asia as natural medicine. Gotu kola – also called marsh penny, Indian pennywort, and British pennywort – helps in the treatment of scars and wounds with infections that have not yet reached the bone. The herb can be used both internally and externally while components of gotu kola have been shown to increase levels of antioxidants and help repair connective tissues.

Always ask your naturopath or physician about which herbs or supplements may work best with your particular health circumstances.Avoid processed hospital junk food and eat fresh, healthy foods that are rich in natural plant fibres, full-spectrum nutrients and trace minerals. Olive oil is excellent for easing inflammation following surgery.

Stay positive and relaxed, and let nature run its course. Remember: Your body is a self-healing system. It knows how to repair itself. All you have to do is give it the proper nutrition, relaxation and good circulation through staying mobile.

Also worth noting

Silica helps heal skin, ligaments, tendons and other tissues. Get a high-grade liquid form of silica

Sunlight accelerates wound healing quite dramatically, probably by producing vitamin D in the skin. Patients who are exposed to sunlight heal far faster than those who are not. However it is important to remember not to expose your wound directly to sunlight as this can have a negative effect on the areas healing process

Phototherapy can also help wounds heal quickly. Various phototherapy devices use infrared LED lights to bathe the wound in healing light. The cellular DNA responds by speeding up the repair process.

Avoid junk food during the healing process, especially processed fats such as hydrogenated oils and homogenized milk fats. They interfere with healthy cell wall construction.

Colloidal silver can be used topically to prevent infections. It works better than antibiotics and offers no opportunity for bacteria to build up resistance. Some people take it internally as a replacement for antibiotics.

Acupuncturecan help speed wound recovery. Needling the tissues near the wound can boost local circulation and help eliminate scar tissue.

One of the best things you can do to improve your nutritional health when recovering from surgery, is to focus on whole foods. That means to choose foods that are “whole” or unprocessed. For example, an orange would be a whole food. Orange juice, though, would be a more processed version.

Processed foods have higher amounts of fat, sugar, salt and chemical additives, but far less fiber and vitamins than whole foods. One easy way to stick to more nutritious, less processed foods is to focus on the outside aisles of the supermarkets. Most stores are set up with unprocessed foods on the outermost areas of the store in the produce, butcher/fish, dairy and bread areas. By doing the majority of your shopping in those areas, you will naturally choose healthier foods.

Focus on Fiber After Your Surgery

It is essential to include fiber in your diet as you recover from surgery. High-fiber foods are healthier than their low-fiber counterparts, fiber plays a major role in preventing constipation, a common complication after surgery.

High Fiber Foods:

  • Whole grain breads – Look for breads that use whole grains and are darker in color. White bread is typically too refined to be a good source of fiber.

    Whole grains are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. Rice is a great way to add whole grains to your diet, but many types of rice are heavily processed & the nutritional value is minimal. For both nutrients and fiber content, choose brown rice or other varieties that are not processed, and avoid white rice.

    Breakfast is an ideal time to add whole grains and fiber to your diet. Skip the bacon and eggs and choose oatmeal or another whole grain cereal, whole wheat bread and fresh fruit for your morning meal.

  • Fruits – Fresh fruit is an excellent source of vitamins and fiber.

    Fresh fruit and vegetables contain nutrients and fiber, essential to healing during your recovery from surgery. While fresh is best, frozen or canned items are also good. Try to choose items that are not processed, such as fresh broccoli, and avoid processed foods, such as canned broccoli soup.

    One side effect of eating more fruits and vegetables than usual is gas. While this can be an annoying or embarrassing problem, it should pass within a day or two. If the gas is so severe that you feel stomach pressure or abdominal cramping, you can decrease your intake of fresh produce or use a gas reliever, such as peppermint tea.

  • Vegetables – Vegetables are an excellent source of fiber and can be purchased fresh or frozen.
  • Cereal – Not all cereal has a high-fiber content. Check the label to avoid sugary or low-fiber cereal. Look for cereal with fiber in the name, or stick with old-fashioned breakfast foods, such as oatmeal or cream of wheat.
It is careful to avoid, in high doses, foods which can make constipation more likely. Constipation can increase your pain level and can place additional stress on the point of incision, so it is important to avoid whenever possible.

Foods likely to cause constipation:

  • Dried or dehydrated foods – These include dried fruits (prunes are an exception, they can help to ease constipation), beef jerky and some types of potato chips.
  • Processed Foods
  • Cheese
  • Milk and Dairy Products – 
    Dairy products are an excellent source of protein, which is essential to healing after surgery. Many people, find that consuming diary products can lead to constipation post surgery. There is also evidence that dairy products can increase secretions in the lungs, so if you have a chronic cough, it may be worthwhile to avoid dairy products in the short term.If you can eat dairy products without becoming constipated, focus on low-fat items, such as skimmed` milk, cottage cheese and yogurt. Cheese, low-fat or not, should be eaten in moderation until you can determine if eating it will cause you to become constipated.
  • Red Meat
  • Sweets – including pastries, chocolates, cakes and other sugary foods

Lean protein can be found in lean meats, such as chicken, turkey and pork. Seafood, including fish, is also an excellent source of lean protein. Red meat is not recommended because of the high level of saturated fat and can trigger constipation.

If you don’t eat meat,  consider nuts, tofu, beans and “vegetarian” foods, such as tempeh and texturized vegetable protein (TVP) to supplement your protein needs. Dairy products are also a source of protein, but they can cause constipation, so they should be used in moderation.

If you are having difficulty eating, consider supplementing your diet with protein powder, which can be added to drinks, such as smoothies.

Difficulty Eating After Surgery

Sometimes it is difficult to eat after surgery because of a lack of appetite. This typically passes a few days after surgery, but it is important to continue eating nutritious foods during this part of your recovery. Constipation can cause a lack of appetite. If this is the case, speak to your surgeon about ways to relieve constipation.

Failing to eat enough after surgery can slow healing and delay the closure of your incision.

If you are not constipated and are still having difficulty with your appetite, consider calorie-dense foods, such as a smoothie, which can contain dairy, fruit and even protein powder as necessary. If you are unable to consume enough calories after your surgery, try calorie-dense foods where possible. That means eating foods that contain more calories per bite than others. For example, a cup of green salad would be a food low in calories per cup, while avocado would be very high in calories per cup.

If consuming enough calories is an issue, you may want to eliminate low-calorie and calorie-free items from your diet until you are able to eat adequately. Avoid foods that say “lite, sugar-free, calorie-free, diet, low-fat or low-calorie” on the label.

12 Ways to Add Calories in Your Diet

  • Use heavy cream instead of non-fat diary creamer.
  • Use real sugar, not sugar substitute.
  • Use real butter, not low-calorie butter spreads or sprays.
  • Cook with oil, not with cooking spray.
  • Choose full calorie options if possible when eating prepared foods, such as frozen meals.
  • Suck on mints or boiled sweets
  • Eat the highest calorie items on your plate first.
  • Keep a full-calorie beverage (juice, lemonade, soda) nearby, and drink from it whenever possible.
  • Add a dietary supplement, such as Ensure or protein bars, to your diet.
  • Snack between meals.
  • Choose vegetables with more calories, such as avocados and potatoes rather than lettuce.
  • Add a bedtime snack to your schedule.


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