Updated: Oct 9, 2020
When you've got an upcoming surgery on the calendar, we rarely think about what we should do after surgery to ensure the most optimal recovery. Yes, rest and "take it easy" is always part of the post-op recommendation but what does that really include?
That period of recovery after surgery not only includes rest but believe it or not it also includes exercise and proper nutrition. Just as your body looks to a well balanced diet and activity without surgery, the importance of maintaining this or fine tuning that routine after surgery couldn't be more important.
A specific focus on nutrition while you're getting up and walking post-surgery could make all the difference in the world whether you go back to work after 6 weeks or 12.
“On average, a person can expect to lose five to ten percent of their total body weight after surgery. To infuse the body with calories and nutrition, consider protein first. Protein is needed to repair tissue, slow muscle catabolism and decrease the inflammatory phase. Post-operative protein requirements range from 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram or .7 to .9 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For elective surgery, the lower end of the range is sufficient. For major surgery, the higher end of the spectrum is more appropriate.” writes Tina Ruggiero, MS, RD, LD in her article - Nutrition After Surgery: What You Need to Know for a Speedy Recovery.
To put things in perspective, the average person's protein intake on a typical day is just a fraction of the recommended amount - not even .5 grams of protein per pound of weight!
In conclusion, better nutrition after surgery can:
Help to replace any blood loss.
Help your incisions heal - reduced scaring.
Provide the raw materials your immune system needs to protect you against infection.
Increase your level of energy - so you can get moving quicker.
Help to repair your skin, nerves, blood vessels, muscle and bone.
But why wait for an ah-HA moment like having to have surgery to get your nutrition in check?
If you start today, you'll notice things like increased energy, improved skin texture, stronger nails, shinier hair, decreased joint and muscle pain - all the things people look for in supplements when it's just as easy as eating the appropriate ratio of macro-nutrients: protein, fat and carbs.