Role of nutrition in post operative care
Studies show that people who take certain dietary supplements before and/or after surgery experience several benefits, including fewer complications from infection, better wound healing and faster recovery. Below are some dietary supplements that can help with post surgery pain management and healing to aide faster recovery.
Protein provides amino acids which are the building blocks of lean tissue. Post-surgery recovery requires amino acids to repair and rebuild your body, and those found in fish, egg whites and chicken can help your body heal faster. Many animal sources of protein also contain vitamin B12, which helps your body produce new blood cells. Protein-rich foods also enhance your body’s ability to defend itself from infections and diseases that can hinder your recovery process and, since they have a mellowing impact on your blood sugar, promote maintained energy levels between meals. Additional sources of amino acids include turkey, lean meats, low-fat dairy products and legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils.
Proteins and amino acids
Proteins, and the amino acids that create them, are your body’s primary building blocks. They’re vital for cell renewal, tissue growth and repair, and other body functions. They play a significant role in rebuilding tissues after injury.
Two amino acids that may be of particular interest are:
- Arginine. Arginine is an amino acid that stimulates immune cells, promotes wound healing and acts as a precursor of nitric oxide — which aids in circulation. Arginine is produced naturally in your body; however, supplementing your natural levels can be helpful in certain cases. For example, studies indicate that using arginine before surgery can result in a shorter recovery time.
- Glutamine. Like arginine, glutamine is produced in your body and is an important fuel for your body’s immune response. Glutamine promotes wound healing, supports immune function and provides energy for intestinal cells. Research suggests that supplementing with glutamine before surgery can also result in shorter post-operative recovery times.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, which comes from a plant in the ginger family. Preliminary studies suggest that curcumin (which is what gives turmeric its bright orange color) has a number of health-promoting benefits. For example, it helps your body to maintain a normal response to inflammatory events, such as reducing soreness and tenderness after strenuous physical activity or promoting healing after surgery or an injury.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that provide a number of benefits to your body, including supporting cell maintenance, digestion and fertility. Omega-3s are found in fatty fish (salmon, tuna and trout), shellfish (crab, mussels and oysters), some vegetable oils, flaxseed oil and also in dietary supplements. Research suggests that omega-3 supplements should be taken in the weeks prior to having surgery.
Probiotics are a type of “good” bacteria that provide health benefits when introduced into your body. Just like the existing helpful bacteria in your body already do, probiotics can aid digestion and help provide a balance of healthy bacteria in your intestines, which helps maintain a normal inflammatory response in your GI tract. Probiotics are commonly found in yogurt and are also available in dietary supplements. Research suggests that using probiotics before surgery can help you heal and improve your digestion after surgery.
Vitamin C-Rich Foods
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in a variety of healthy foods that provides potent antioxidant, or disease-fighting, benefits. Vitamin C also helps protect your cells from toxic substances known as free radicals and is necessary for wound healing. A variety of vitamin C-rich foods, such as red bell peppers, citrus fruits and juices, berries, kiwi, mangos, papaya, cantaloupe, leafy greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and baked potatoes, regularly. Fortified cereals, smoothies and blended fruit juices are also rich sources of vitamin C.
Carbohydrates provide glucose — your body’s primary energy source. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, also provide rich amounts of nutrients, which support your body’s immune system, and fiber, which can help prevent or alleviate constipation while recovering from surgery. Nutritious whole grain foods include 100 percent whole grain breads, long-grain brown rice, wild rice, barley soup, old fashioned oatmeal and air-popped popcorn.
Consuming iron-rich foods such as liver, clams and beef is important for optimizing your hemoglobin content and increasing your iron stores before your surgery to account for the blood loss during the procedure. Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues, and this oxygen is essential for cellular metabolism and healing post-surgery.