It can make anyone nervous to think about their upcoming surgery. Give yourself peace of mind by doing everything possible to get your body ready for the trauma of surgery. When you are prepping for surgery think of it like your getting ready to train for a marathon. The more you "train" (in this case we refer to nutrition and exercise) the faster and better you will run the "race" (or surgical outcome). The earlier you get started in making your body ready for your surgery through both nutrition and exercise, the better your outcome. Don't fret if you haven't given yourself the ideal prep time of a couple of months... even eating the right things the night before your surgery can have a positive impact in your surgical outcome. In fact, many studies have come out recently stating that doing some form of prehabilitation before surgery can decrease hospital stays by as much as 2 days and give patients less chance of infections or complications. This post provides tips on what to eat before the big day to help you have the best possible and quickest healing time. These are just general guidelines. Talk to your medical provider to make sure there are no contraindications to consuming the following foods or supplements.
Nutrition to include in your diet before surgery:
Probiotics: These are great for helping your body counteract the effects of pre or post surgery antibiotics. Great sources include: yogurt, fermented vinegar, kimchee, and kombucha. There are also many great probiotic supplements that you could take.
Antioxidants: Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, are great for promoting healing and lowering the risk of infections. Foods that contain antioxidants include blueberries, oranges, dark chocolate, pecans, strawberries, artichokes, kale, raspberries, red cabbage, beans, and goji berries.
Protein: Protein is necessary for healing and maintaining strength after surgery. Eat at least one to two servings a day one to two weeks before surgery. Beef, chicken, pork, fish, eggs, seeds, tofu, greek yogurt, milk, and nuts are good sources of protein.
Calcium: Calcium is needed to help support and heal muscles. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, canned salmon, sardines, broccoli, spinach, and kale. Try to get at least 1000 milligrams daily. You must also be getting adequate vitamin D to absorb the calcium. Luckily, salmon and fortified foods like cereals and milk will already have the vitamin D included.
Magnesium: Magnesium is required for energy production and protein synthesis. You should be getting around 400mg of magnesium daily. Luckily many foods contain this vital nutrient. Some of the best sources include pumpkin seeds, nuts, beans, halibut, spinach, whole grains, and dark chocolate.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps you absorb the calcium that your body needs. This vitamin is found in egg yolks, liver, portabella mushrooms, and fish. Fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, soy milk, and margarine will also work. Anyone over the age of 50 should also include at least one 400IU of vitamin D along with 400IU (what is in 2 cups of fortified milk) from diet daily. Most multivitamins include 400IU of vitamin D.
Iron: You need iron to make oxygen-carrying red blood cells. Meat, fish, poultry, canned oysters, clams, beans, leafy greens, and tofu are some excellent sources of iron. If you are vegetarian or vegan you must pair vitamin C (eg. tomatoes, citrus fruits, strawberries) with your source of iron so that it can be better used by your body. Depending on your age, gender, and other factors your iron needs may be more than you can get through diet. Talk to your doctor about how much iron you should be getting daily and if a supplement is right for you.
Vitamin B12: This is a great vitamin to help prevent anemia. Build it up in your system by eating fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products. If you are vegan or over the age of 50 try taking a B12 supplement or multivitamin with minerals as well. B12 is also found in some fortified foods such as cereal and non-dairy milks so check the labels.
Bromelain: This is a wonderful anti-inflammatory and has shown to decrease post operative swelling and pain. Bromelain is found in the core of pineapples or bromelain supplements. You should start ingesting bromelain at least a couple of days before surgery to see the benefits. You can also keep taking it after surgery to reduce swelling and alleviate pain even more.
Bone Broth: Bone broth is full of many vitamins and minerals. It has amino acids that are the building blocks of protein in the body and also aid in digestion. It's a great way to get lots of nutrition from something that is not too filling or hard on the body. It also has natural occurring gelatin which is great for fortifying and rebuilding tissues and joints.
Smoothies: If made with the right ingredients, smoothies can pack a good amount of nutrition and are fairly easy to make. These are also a good option if you find yourself losing your appetite. Find your own favorite combinations to make at home using some of the ingredients from the list above or go to a local smoothie place with a list of ingredients you would like included.