No medical professional working at a surgical practice is going to argue that post-operative recovery is an easy road, regardless of the surgery you endure. However, you can take steps to give yourself every advantage during your rehabilitation and set yourself up for success while also minimizing the risk of complication.
Surgery is a taxing process on the human body. Appropriate nutrition is vital for the healing of tissue in general, whether the injury be treated conservatively or surgically, but surgery does warrant specific nutritional needs. Surgical recovery warrants additional caloric consumption compared to the generally recommended 2000 calories per day. These extra calories should be given specific consideration and not just consumed in the form of whatever junk food you have sitting in the pantry. Increasing protein intake to aid in tissue repair and incisional healing as well as complex carbohydrates to maintain energy levels and blood sugar levels will facilitate your recovery. The challenging part of consuming enough calories after surgery to support healing is that most patients experience a lacking appetite and struggle to stay appropriately fed and hydrated upon coming out of anesthesia. It is crucial to have nutrient-dense foods on hand. These are foods that have a large amount of nutrients compared to the number of calories they contain.
Above and beyond the body’s increased needs for carbohydrates and proteins, eating foods to help decrease inflammation can be helpful as well. You can refer to our previous blog about healthy eating for more information regarding foods that help to control the body’s natural post-operative inflammatory response.
If you are provided post-operative antibiotics for any reason, consuming probiotic foods can help counter the effects of these medications by protecting the good bacteria in your digestive tract. Similarly, if you are taking oral narcotic pain medication, increasing your daily fiber intake will help battle the constipation that is often a side effect of this type of medication.
In order to keep up with current research regarding pre and post operative nutritional needs of the body, we are teaming up with ProHealth Care to provide all of our patients having surgery at Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital a package of three 10-ounce Ensure Pre-Surgical carbohydrate drinks to consume in the hours leading up to their procedures. These beverages are a specific formula not commercially available in stores like other Ensure beverages. They contain 50 grams of carbohydrates, 200 calories, and plenty of antioxidants (namely Zinc and Selenium) to aid in healing and strengthen the body against infection.
As you are readying yourself and your home for surgery, consider stocking up on some healthy, easy to prepare, nutrient-dense foods to make your recovery easier.
This blog is written by one of our very own-Morgan. She is a certified athletic trainer working in our clinic with our providers each and every day. She obtained a bachelor's degree in athletic training from Carroll University in Waukesha and a master's degree in Kinesiology from Michigan State University.