With just eight days before my laproscopic myomectomy surgery, I am keeping myself healthy with clean eating. When the body is clear of junk, it heals faster. I have already stopped popping certain vitamins and foods. My surgeon / gynae has advised me to stop all my supplements a week before the surgery except for Sangobion (iron) as I am anemic.
Certain foods and supplements should be avoided before surgery. Some foods leave a residue in your digestive tract that may complicate intestinal surgeries or cause diarrhea. In addition to this, having food in your system may cause nausea and vomiting. Various types of vitamins may also cause complications during surgery.
No matter what part of the body is undergoing surgery, the process for healing is the same. Surgically “traumatized tissue” (skin, muscle, bones, cartilage, tendons, etc.) does not just magically heal; rather, the body has to rebuild and repair tissue on the cellular level. This involves energy and nutritional building blocks to support the healing process.
The best pre-operative nutrition will help the immune system fight against infection and prevent and treat excess blood loss. Research has demonstrated that optimal recovery, including the best possible results seen in the shortest time period, is achieved when particular dietary and supplement regimens are followed. Specific nutrients are needed to repair skin, blood vessels, nerves, and even muscles and bones.
What Dietary Supplements Should You Avoid BEFORE Surgery?
Vitamin E and surgery do not mix because Vitamin E is associated with increased bleeding, and this can lead to collection of blood (called a hematoma) that could result in serious complications. Most surgeons will instruct you to avoid preparations with Vitamin E before surgery, however, so it is important to check your dietary supplements/multivitamin carefully. However, after the surgery, your health care professional may indicate that Vitamin E may be appropriate.
Herbal supplements, in general, are to be avoided prior to surgery because they can cause bleeding or other operative complications. A few commonly taken herbal supplements to avoid are: Ginko Biloba, Garlic, Ginseng, Ginger, Dong Quai, Ephedra, Feverfew, St. John’s Wort and/or Omega 3 fatty acids.
A general rule is to stop taking these potentially unsafe preparations at least two weeks prior. Nonetheless, it is important to discuss all preoperative dietary supplements with a health care professional prior to any surgery or procedure.
A week or two before surgery, there may be foods and drinks to avoid. For example, it is recommended to stop taking any type of vitamins that contain vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B, vitamin K, all herbal supplements and fish oils; including multivitamins. You should also avoid all food with high sugar contents, because they can suppress normal immune function.
Even if you are not known to be allergic to these, you should avoid any potentially allergenic foods, such as:
- Fish and shellfish
- Soy or wheat products
You can, however restart your normal diet after surgery. This is purely a precautionary recommendation.
Don’t eat anything that is high in fiber for at least 24 hours prior to surgery. This includes fruits and vegetables. That is because foods high in fiber take longer for your body to digest, especially apples, raspberries, oranges and pears. Vegetables like broccoli, peas and artichokes also have a lot of fiber content.
It is important that patients tell their doctors about all the medications they are taking, including herbal supplements, before surgery. And doctors should provide patients with a list of supplements to avoid.
Here are some foods and nutrients you should focus on in your post-surgery diet:
Fiber. A common complaint after surgery is constipation. To avoid this uncomfortable post-surgery complication, eat plenty of fiber. Some high-fiber foods include fresh fruit and vegetables. Whole grain breads and oatmeal are other great sources of fiber. To prevent constipation, avoid foods like dried or dehydrated foods, processed foods, cheese and dairy products, red meats and sweets.
The amino acids in protein help with wound healing and tissue regeneration. Protein can also help with strength and energy following surgery. Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, pork and seafood are excellent sources of protein. You can also get protein from eggs, nuts, beans and tofu. Dairy also contains protein, but if you’re struggling with constipation, go for the other sources of protein instead of dairy options. If you have trouble getting enough protein in your diet after surgery, try adding protein powder to drinks or smoothies.
Carbohydrates. Fatigue is common following any surgical procedure, but eating the right kinds of carbs can help restore your energy levels. Get carbs from high-fiber foods like whole grains, fruits and veggies, and beans and legumes. These foods will boost energy levels without causing constipation.
Fat. Healthy fats from olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, nuts and seeds will improve immune response and aid the body’s absorption of vitamins. Fat will also help increase energy levels after surgery.
Vitamins and Minerals. Perhaps the most important nutrients in your post-surgery diet are vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A (found in orange and dark green veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, kale and spinach) and vitamin C (found in citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, melons, and sweet bell peppers) help with wound healing. Vitamin D (found in milk, fish, eggs, and fortified cereals) promotes bone health. Vitamin E (found in vegetable oils, nuts, beef liver, milk and eggs) protects the body from free radicals. Vitamin K (found in green leafy veggies, fish, liver and vegetable oils) is necessary for blood clotting.
Zinc (found in meat, seafood, dairy and beans) and iron (found in meat and poultry, beans, apricots, eggs, whole grains and iron-fortified cereals) are also helpful for wound healing and energy following surgery.
In addition to eating foods that are rich in fiber, protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, you must stay hydrated after surgery. Proper hydration isn’t only necessary for healing, but may also be necessary to help your body absorb medications following surgery. Be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water every day after surgery to stay hydrated.
The foods you should and shouldn’t eat can vary depending on the type of surgery and any medications you may be on. Be sure to talk with your doctor about your specific post-surgery dietary requirements.