Nutritional Needs For Injuries and Surgery
Whenever the skin is broken or cut either through an accident or for medical reasons, harmful bacteria gain access to the underlying tissues. The conditions in the wound are ideal for bacteria to reproduce. It is warm and moist, there is a plentiful supply if protein and, if the wound is dressed, it is also dark. A wound irifection can develop very quickly and this can slow down the healing process and may eventually overwhelm the immune system. It is possible, however, to build up your difences against this happening through your diet or with supplements.
Nutritional needs before an operation
About three or four weeks before the operation, in addition to your normal healthy diet, it may be advisable to:
- Eat plenty of good quality protein to ensure that the body is able to heal damaged tissue without delay
- Eat high fiber foods and yoghurt to replenish the natural, helpful bacteria that live benignly in the intestine
- Consume plenty of calcium as it is needed to regulate many of the cells' activities. Ideally, the calcium should come from a variety of sources including greens, grains and nuts
- Eat foods that contain vitamin F
- Avoid stimulants, such as coffee, drugs and all types of tobacco
- A few days before the operation, eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and juices, less protein and fewer starchy foods than usual
- You may wish to take extra minerals and vitamins for two to three weeks before an operation and four to six weeks afterwards
Nutritional needs after an operation or injury
After surgery or an injury, the body has several tasks. It has to repair tissue damage and recover from any anaesthetic, either local or general, and any other necessary drugs e.g. for pain relief. Finally, the shock and stress of events can alter normal body function, and recovery from this may increase the body's need of nutrients.
Hospital food can often be less than satisfactory and, if you are used to eating whole
foods that are largely chemical free and a good supply of fruit and vegetables, it may differ considerably from your usual diet.
With the agreement of your surgeon, you could ask your relatives to bring in fresh fruits and vegetables, take high protein powders to speed the repair of your tissues, and mineral and vitamin supplements.
The Healer Nutrients
VITAMIN A boosts the immune system and helps in the repair of tissues, and BETACAROTENE supplies extra vitamin A, if needed, and also acts as an anti-oxidant.
VITAMINS C AND P aid the repair of tissues, and should be taken in several doses each day as they are quickly lost in the urine.
ZINC is a great healer and enables the body to ward off any infection as well as being essential in the repair of damaged tissues.
MAGNESIUM activates many of the biochemical processes of healing.
The B-VITAMINS are all needed for the normal supply of energy, and an effective nervous system. In particular, vitamin B2 is needed for tissue repair and vitamin B5 for its anti-stress function.
VITAMIN K enables the blood to clot, and allows the early stages of scab and scar formation to proceed.
SELENIUM, COPPER, IRON, CALCIUM, POTASSIUM, MANGANESE, MOLYBDENUM AND COBALT all have a role in the healing process. In particular, iron is needed if there has been blood loss.
VITAMINS C, A, SELENIUM AND ZINC are the main nutrients needed to overcome the effects of an anaesthetic and other medication.
VITAMIN F aids wound healing.
VITAMIN E acts as an anti-oxidant, but should not be taken in large doses as it can interfere with blood clotting.
To avoid dietary imbalance, mineral, and vitamin supplements should not be taken in large doses, except with professional guidance.
HORSETAIL is high in silica, which is a mineral that strengthens tissues.
GOLDENSEAL helps to ward off infection.
Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when available.