Modern surgery is, without a doubt, one of the greatest medical achievements of our time. Thousands of lives are saved through emergency trauma surgery, delicate organ transplants and your quality of life is also vastly improved by not having to live with that dodgy knee you busted playing footy.
Emotionally it can also be a stressful time with fears about your health condition and worry about the outcome.
So, it makes sense that if you want the best and fastest recovery possible to ensure your body (both physically and emotionally) is functioning optimally. The food you eat in
Here’s a guide to ensure you recover from your surgery brighter and better than you were before!
*** But first a caveat: Before starting any supplementation make sure to check your pre-surgery guidelines and discuss with your health care team (both medical and
Ok, our mission now is to promote wound healing in the shortest time, with minimal pain, discomfort
Here’s your plan.
Your wound healing diet
If you are having elective surgery you will have weeks or months to prepare. Use this time to knock your diet into shape. Optimal nutrition will support a speedier recovery, not to mention it’s a damn fine idea for ongoing health. I mean, we all have to eat so let’s make it count.
There’s nothing here you haven’t heard before but…
- 5-7 servings per day of a variety of fresh, seasonal vegetables, organic if possible
- Two servings of fruit per day
- Adequate protein from animal and/or plants sources. Aim for between 0.8-1.0 grams per kilo of your body weight.
Moderateamount of whole grains (if tolerated)
- Small amounts of “good fats” such as nuts, avocado, butter, olive oil
- Maintain adequate hydration with filtered water. Aim for 30mL per kilo of body weight and adjust for weather and activity levels
Things that will undermine your foundation.
Limit or avoid:
- Alcohol: no more than 1-2 standard drinks per day with a minimum of 2 alcohol-free days per week. Alcohol depletes the body of key nutrient stores required for tissue
repairsuch as B group vitamins, vitamin c andzinc. High alcohol consumers are 2-3 times more likely to suffer from post-operativecomplications than abstainers.
- Excessive caffeine intake. Limit your “cup o Joe” to 1 /day. Too much caffeine puts your adrenals on overdrive and we don’t want any more stress than is absolutely necessary.
- Refined sugar and trans fats. Refined sugar/carbs add next to no nutrients and actually knock nutrients such as vitamin, magnesium
andzinc out of your cells. Not to mention the inflammation they cause.
- Exercise within the limits of your current health. Aim to break a sweat 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes.
- Include mindfulness and relaxation exercises to support emotional resilience.
- Sleep: ensure you are
well rested. Your body resets and cleans out the cellular garbage while you sleep so this needs to be a priority. If you have a hospital stay the chances are your sleep will be disrupted so having your sleep account in credit will be beneficial.
My top 10 wound healing supplements
Grape seed extract (Vitis vinifera)
Grape seed extract as its name implies is made from the seeds of wine grapes. But, you’re not going to get the same benefits from drinking wine. Sorry!
This herb has been shown to reduce swelling, bruising and increase connective tissue formation enabling faster wound healing. It may also protect against
Gotu kola (Centella
Gotu kola has a long history of traditional use in Asia for wound healing. Modern research has validated this and identified that one of the components of the plants (the triterpenoids) increases the synthesis of collagen to speed wound healing and reduce scarring 3. This plant also has a host of other benefits for
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is widely known to be beneficial against nausea but it also is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatories modulating multiple pathways to reduce pain and reliance on pharmaceutical painkillers 5.
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic is another well-known culinary herb that helps post-surgical recovery on multiple fronts including reducing inflammation, supporting the immune system, preventing bacterial infection, reducing the likelihood of clotting and supporting the growth of new blood vessels. If using as a supplement the research has been conducted primarily using aged-garlic extracts 6,7. This is good news because this form of garlic is less likely to make you smell like you’ve been eating at your
These are usually a mix of proteolytic (protein digesting) enzymes and supporting nutrients and should contain bromelain, papain, pancreatin, serrapeptase, quercetin
Take proteolytic enzymes 1 hour before meals or between meals to protect them from destruction by high levels of stomach acid.
Adult dosage guide:
Your gut houses a large part of your immune system so it makes sense to ensure you’ve got the right mix of good bacteria playing on your team. A high quality,
Adult dosage guide:
Even if you’re not a salty, old, sea dog most of us are familiar with vitamin C’s role in preventing scurvy. Scurvy occurs when a diet lacking in vitamin C causes degradation of collagen
Collagen aside, vitamin C also supports the immune system, may decrease the risk of
Adult dosage guide:
Zinc is a mineral that is very busy in your body participating in over 300 enzyme reactions.
Adult dosage guide:
Vitamin A is another nutrient that is important in tissue and bone development and repair. Adequate Vitamin A ensures that immature cells can transform into the correct type required for wound healing. This vitamin is a huge player in your immune function. It helps your mucous membranes to repel microbes and increases the amount of
** Be cautious with supplementing Vitamin A if you are pregnant, on steroid medication or have a liver condition. Do not supplement vitamin A in large doses for extended periods of time.
Adult dosage guide:
Pre-surgery: 10,000IU/day for two weeks prior
Lots of protein (and its component parts, amino acids) is required to repair your body after surgery. If you don’t have enough protein your body will start breaking down your skeletal muscle to get the amino acids you need and this will prolong recovery time and keep inflammation levels high for longer14. The two most important amino acids are arginine (required for proline that is part of collagen, cartilage, tendons
Adult dosage guide:
Pre-surgery: ensure good dietary intake as per recommendations above.
“Best practice in surgery requires the support of the whole of the patient not just the hole in the patient” Keast & Ostead 17
Remember, surgery is a stressful event both physically and psychologically.
Support yourself with food and supplements but also support yourself with positive people and activities that nurture you mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
If you enjoyed this you may also like:
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- Ulbricht C. Peripheral Vascular Disease: An Integrative Approach. Altern Complement Ther. 2012;18(1):44–50.
- Incandela I, Cesarone R, Cacchio M, De Sanctis M, Scantvenere C. Total
triterpenicFraction of Centella asiaticain Chronic Venous Insufficiency and in High-Perfusion Microangiopathy. Angiology. 2001;52(2) :S9–S13. Available at: http://www.proquest.com. Accessed May 31, 2015.
- Valdivieso D, Kenner C, Lucia A, et al. Evaluation of the Anxiolytic and Antidepressant Effects of Asiatic Acid, a Compound from Gotu Kola or Centella
asiatica, in the Male Sprague Dawley Rat. Am J Health Behav. 2015;83(2):91–99. Available at: http://www.ebsoehost.com. Accessed May 31, 2015.
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- Majewski M. Allium sativum: facts and myths regarding human health. Rocz Państwowego Zakładu Hig. 2014;65(1):1–8. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24964572.
- Ejaz S, Chekarova I, Cho JW, Lee SY, Ashraf S, Lim CW. Effect of aged garlic extract on wound healing: a new frontier in wound management. Drug Chem Toxicol. 2009;32(3):191–203.
- Mpharm N, Sengottuvelu S, Manoj G, Sethumathi PP.
Efficacy , Tolerabilíty ,and Safety of a Multicomponent Antiinflammatory With Glucosamine Hydrochioridevs Glucosamine Sulfate vs an NSAID in the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis — A Randomized , Prospective , Double-Blind ,Comparative Study. Integr Med. 2009;8(3):32–38. Available at: www.ebscoe.com. Accessed September 1, 2014.
- Pasqualicchio M, Gasperini R, Velo G, Davies M. Effects of copper and zinc on proteoglycan metabolism in articular cartilage.
MediatInflamm. 1996;5:95–99. Available at: www.ebscoe.com. Accessed May 27, 2014.
- ková MD w, Wald M. Orally Administered Proteases in Aesthetic Surgery. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 1999;23(1):41–44.
- Chon H, Choi B. The effects of a vegetable-derived probiotic lactic acid bacterium on the immune response. Microbiol Immunol. 2010;54(4):228–36.
- Kelly D, Mulder IE. Microbiome and immunological interactions. Nutr Rev. 2012;70(SUPPL. 1).
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- MacKay D, Miller AL. Nutritional support for wound healing. Altern Med Rev. 2003;8(4):359–377.
- Lansdown ABG, Mirastschijski U, Stubbs N, Scanlon E, Agren MS. Zinc in wound healing: theoretical, experimental, and clinical aspects. Wound Repair Regen. 2007;15(1):2–16.
- Swaid F, Sukhotnik I, Matter I, et al. Dietary glutamine supplementation prevents mucosal injury and modulates intestinal epithelial restitution following acetic
acid inducedintestinal injury in rats. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2013;10(1):53. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-10-53.
- Keast DH, Orsted H. The basic principles of wound care. Ostomy Wound Manage. 1998;44(8):24–8, 30–1. Available at: http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/9782957. Accessed February 9, 2016.
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Norelle Hentschel is an experienced Naturopath with a clinic in Stones Corner, Brisbane who enjoys supporting her clients to reach their health goals.
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