Recovery speed and effectiveness after orthopedic surgery are largely determined by what we eat. Not only does our body need more calories to recover, but surgery also causes a stress reaction in the body that elevates the metabolism and increases our need for calories. If we don’t fuel our recovery with the proper foods, complications are more likely to arise. Curious what foods could help speed up your recovery after surgery? Read below for our top recommendations.
- Protein – soy, dairy, beans, eggs, cottage cheese, poultry, fish, meat, and nuts are all excellent sources of protein. Make sure you incorporate some into each meal to allow your bones and muscles to rebuild and help your immune system stay strong enough to fight off infection.
- Vitamin C – vitamin C helps your body make collagen. When your body is recovering, it needs healthy connective tissue and collagen is what those ligaments and tendons are made of. Citrus fruits, vegetables, berries, and potatoes can help ensure you get enough vitamin C.
- Calcium – this mineral is not made in the body and our bones are continually losing small amounts of it, so we need to consume calcium to maintain strong bones. Dairy like milk, cheese, and yogurt are often the sources we think of first, but chew on this: spinach, kale, and chia seeds are loaded with even more calcium.
- Vitamin D – this nutrient makes sure we can absorb calcium from the food we eat and can be found in orange juice, almond milk, and many of the same foods that contain protein and calcium.
While these foods help your body recover after orthopedic surgery, their positive effects can be canceled out by other foods. Make sure to avoid caffeine, alcohol, excessive sugar, and salt as they can all slow bone healing by depleting your body of nutrients. Unless advised otherwise by your physician, try to get your nutrients from food rather than supplements because food helps the body absorb them better.
For healthy eaters and athletes, it’s still important to adapt your diet for surgical recovery. That means that many of the foods you eat while maintaining a healthy lifestyle – like nutrition bars or protein drinks – can be swapped with nutrient-dense foods. This allows the body to absorb what it needs more effectively while taking the extra sugar and calories off the table.
Want more guidance about what to eat before or after surgery? The at Proliance Orthopedic Associates are here to help you learn more about the best foods for your recovery process. At POA, we care about providing the best care for our patients, specializing in joint replacement surgery, ACL reconstruction, meniscectomy, and more. Please contact us today!