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8 Foods to Boost Your Health Before and After Surgery

It is possible to speed your recovery and healing from surgery with healthy snacks and meals. Before you have surgery include the following foods in your diet to optimize your recovery:

  • Protein –  Protein helps the body repair itself and fight infections. Choose lean sources like beans, fish, skinless poultry, soy, and nuts to stay healthy and maintain your weight while on the mend.
  • Whole Grains –  Grains like brown rice, high fiber breads, cereals, and pasta are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. The nutrients found in these grains are particularly important during the recovery process to avoid complications like constipation.
  • Vitamin C – Giving your body enough vitamin C can provide the necessary building blocks your skin needs to heal quickly. Foods rich in vitamin-C include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, kale, kiwi, oranges, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes.
  • Beta-carotene – Foods rich in beta-carotene can promote immune defenses by keeping skin and mucous healthy to hold back bacteria and viruses. Apricots, asparagus, beef liver, beets, broccoli, collard and mustard greens, yellow and winter squash, and watermelon are all good sources of beta-carotene.
  • Vitamin E – Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps prevent build-ups in the arteries and limits tissue damage – especially during heart surgery. Almonds, broccoli, peanuts, spinach, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, and walnuts are good sources.
  • Zinc – Zinc is necessary for the production of collagen, a tissue responsible for scar formation.  Taking zinc can help speed up the healing of surgical incisions and also boost the immune system. Get more Zinc naturally by eating eggs, nuts, seafood, seeds, wheat germ, and whole grains (especially fortified cereals).
  • Multivitamin – Talk to your doctor about taking a pre- and post-surgery multivitamin. If you decide to take a multivitamin choose one that gives you B12 and iron, both of which help form bone marrow and new blood cells.
  • Supplements – If your appetite is low, try a supplement like: a regular or sugar free instant breakfast drink mixed into low fat milk, Ensure with Revigor, Boost, Resource, or Glucerna (if you have diabetes). Drinking fluids maintains vital blood volume, and the right blend of nutrients helps your body heal wounds and repair tissue. If you are not sure your diet contains all of the right nutrients, ask your doctor, nurse, or dietitian about supplements.

Have more questions about pre-surgical nutrition? Schedule a consultation with a registered dietitian from our nutrition team!