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18th February 2021

7 Foods To Eat After Surgery for a Successful Recovery

Dr. Devan Patel, PharmD
7 Foods To Eat After Surgery for a Successful Recovery

What you eat after surgery can play an important role in your recovery process. Post-surgery nutrition helps to achieve a full recovery and overall well being. Eating the right foods will provide the nutrients that your body needs to rebuild tissue and heal properly. These foods can also speed up the healing process, minimize bruising, inflammation, and swelling that often come with surgery.

Malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies can negatively affect tissue repair during the healing process. The main goal of wound healing is to ensure that patients recover with minimal discomfort, scarring, and pain.

What you eat after surgery can play an important role in your recovery process.

1. Eat lots of berries

Berries contain high amounts of antioxidants which helps the body repair damage. The drugs that are used during the surgery can cause the body to be intoxicated. To reduce or eliminate these harmful chemicals, a higher dose of antioxidants must be consumed after surgery. 

Berries also contain anthocyanidins which are compounds that enhance the effects of vitamin C, improve capillary integrity, and stabilize collagen matrix.  Research shows that vitamin C helps rebuild collagen and soft tissue allowing wounds to heal faster. Consuming fruits like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, and pomegranates can be extremely beneficial during your recovery. 

2. Go for orange fruits & veggies

Fruits and vegetables that contain high levels of beta carotene should be consumed following surgery. Once our bodies consume these foods, it has the ability to convert Beta carotene into vitamin A.

This vitamin is needed for the repair and maintenance of soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin. For this reason, increasing your intake of orange fruits and vegetables after surgery is recommended. Foods that are excellent sources of beta carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, cantaloupe, mango, and dried apricots Other excellent sources of beta carotene include.

3. Up your whole grains

Whole grains are unrefined grains that provide more fiber and nutrients than refined grains. Whole grains contain vitamin B, iron, folate, selenium, potassium, and magnesium; which are all essential to strengthening the immune system and supporting the body’s natural healing process.

Consuming whole grains after surgery provides the body with carbohydrates. Which provides energy and prevents muscles from breaking down. Since these unrefined grains are easier to digest the body is able to maintain healthy levels of blood sugar and insulin.

4. Eat more high-fiber foods

Including fiber into your diet as you recover from surgery is very important. Pain medications, anesthetic agents, alterations to diet, dehydration, stress, and reduced physical activity after surgery can slow your digestive tract and cause constipation. 

Not only are high-fiber foods healthy for you, but they also play a major role in preventing constipation. Constipation can actually increase pain and develop severe complications during the recovery period.

5. Increase your protein intake

Protein contains amino acids that are essential during the healing process. In fact, they help with wound healing and tissue regeneration. Incorporating more proteins into your diet will help rebuild your bones, muscles, and damaged tissues, while also helping your immune system fight off infections.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. This protein plays an important role in regenerating tissue cells. The demands of protein intake can become much higher after surgery, especially if there is an incision in need of repair. 

Protein must be increased to about 1.5 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram. To increase your protein intake you do not have to eat more meat. Excellent lean protein sources can include eggs, fish, turkey, beans, and legumes.

6. Eat more zinc-rich foods

Zinc is an important mineral needed to maintain proper immune system function. This mineral helps the body develop and activate cells that support the immunity system. Zinc is also important during wound healing since it contributes to protein synthesis and cell growth.

Oysters have the highest concentration of zinc, followed by red meats which have some of the highest concentrations of zinc in food. Another excellent source of zinc can be found in pumpkin, squash, and sesame seeds.

7. Use healthy fats and oils

Consuming healthy fats and oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, and seeds; can help strengthen the immune system and decrease the risk of infections. Healthy fats are essential since they provide the body with the energy and nutrition needed to accelerate healing. In fact, research has shown that Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of post-surgery complications.

Foods to Eat After Surgery: The Takeaway

Proper nutrition is the main component for a successful recovery after surgery. It is very important to consume lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins during your recovery. These foods provide the body with essential vitamins, minerals, and protein. A single nutrient deficiency can affect the body’s ability to heal.

We also recommend that you incorporate supplements that can accelerate tissue healing, such as WoundVite.* Aside from proper nutrition, it is also important to stay hydrated so make sure to monitor your water intake.



* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.