No matter what kind of surgery you’re having, there are steps you can take ahead of time to help support your recovery. Because everyone has unique needs, it’s important to talk with your doctor about what’s best for you. Here are some general tips from The Valley Health System Chief Medical Officer Dan McBride, MD, for the weeks leading up to your procedure.
Nourish Your Body
Protein provides building blocks for muscle, bone and your immune system, which can be beneficial before and after surgery. Also, whole grains provide B vitamins to enhance your immune system and combat physical stress; and fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals needed to repair collagen muscle, bones and cartilage — all big pluses for healing.
Avoid the “Bad” Foods
Try to reduce or eliminate foods and drinks that don’t add nutrition, as well as things that may add stress to your body, like regular sodas, desserts, caffeine and alcohol. Foods high in saturated fats, trans fats and refined carbohydrates — such as processed meats and processed snack foods — can trigger an inflammatory response in your body, which you should avoid.
Smoking can have a number of negative effects, such as reducing your body’s blood flow and ability to heal, which can lead to infections and other problems. The sooner you can quit, the better, but stopping even the day before your surgery can be beneficial.
Talk with your doctor about any health concerns you may have, as well as what you can expect with your recovery. For example, will you need help at home, and when can you expect to be back to your regular routine?
After surgery, the same general principles apply, but there are dietary considerations to keep in mind. You will have higher calorie needs for healing. Also, eating more fiber and drinking at least 6-8 glasses of fluid each day can help you avoid constipation. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions and attend your follow-up appointments.