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Here’s What to Eat to Help Speed the Healing Process After Joint Surgery

For anybody who has recently undergone surgery for knee pain, a doctor in Green Bay or Appleton will probably prescribe several follow-up recommendations. What many people don’t realize is that healthy eating and lifestyle choices can help work in conjunction with the professional advice of an orthopedic surgeon to speed up the recovery process after joint surgery.

While committing an overall balanced diet high in vitamins and minerals and low in preservatives and harmful fat is always a good way to give the body the fuel it needs to aid in recovery, there are some foods that pack a more powerful punch than others when it comes to boosting the body’s natural healing capacity.

With that in mind, the following is a list of food groups that anybody who just had surgery should make an effort to actively seek out.

Antioxidant Rich Foods

Many have heard about the positive effects of antioxidants in slowing aging, but foods rich in these wonder compounds can also help the body to heal faster after surgery. Essentially, antioxidants work by combating the free radicals that are natural waste products of cells. Basically, antioxidants keep the body from getting bogged down with a build-up of these free radicals as it works to keep a person healthy and strong.

However, studies have suggested that this powerful free radical fighting power might come in extra handy after surgery since the body has to naturally put in a bit overtime to get back in tip-top shape. By keeping the immune system from getting slowed down or even overwhelmed by all that extra cell waste, antioxidants ensure the body can put more of its resources into getting better faster.

Here are some foods to put on the shopping list that are especially high in antioxidants:

  • Berries (the darker the color of the skin the better)
  • Pomegranates
  • Grapes
  • Dark chocolate
  • Pecans
  • Artichokes
  • Kale
  • Red cabbage
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Spinach

Protein Rich Foods

Protein is the building blocks of muscles and bones, and it is essential to supplement and support the healing process. This is why it is especially important for a person to make sure they are getting enough protein in their diet in the weeks immediately following any kind of joint or other type of surgery.

Some of healthiest protein powerhouses include:

  • Seafood
  • Free-range poultry
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Lean, ethically sourced beef or pork
  • Quinoa
  • Soy

Foods High in Healthy Fats

Not all fat is bad fat, and foods that are a natural source of healthy fat will help ensure anybody recovering from surgery is getting the most out of their nutritional program. This is because these healthy fats actually make it easier for the human body to absorb all the vitamins and nutrients that it ingests.

This is why it is especially important to load up on foods high in healthy fat after any kind of surgical procedure. Essentially, the body needs all the nutrition it can get to help it feel better faster, and these fats make sure the body gets the most bang for its buck when it comes to eating right.

As an added bonus, many of the foods that are high in healthy fats are also high in Vitamin E that will aid in wound healing and help to minimize the appearance of scars.

Here are some foods high in healthy fats to be sure to stock up on:

  • Avocados
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Seeds and seed butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Olives
  • Salmon
  • Dark chocolate
  • Tuna
  • Tofu
  • Eggs
  • Lean, grass-fed beef and pork
  • Full-fat milk and full-fat milk products, such as cheese and yogurt

Immune Friendly Probiotics

After surgery, the immune system can be especially vulnerable, and this why foods rich in natural immune-boosting probiotics can provide such great support to aid in fast recovery.

Probiotics basically help make sure the whole digestive system is functioning right. While the immediate connection between digestion and surgery recovery may not be so obvious, if the digestive system isn’t in tip-top shape, it will sap a lot of energy that would normally be put toward healing. Poor digestion can easily overwhelm the immune system, and this means that if the gut isn’t in good shape, it can be a lot easier to end up sick or with an infection after a surgical procedure.

In addition to over the counter probiotic supplements, these foods are packed with natural good gut bacteria that will help keep the immune system strong:

  • Kefir
  • Yogurt
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kombucha (fermented tea beverage)
  • Pickles
  • Tempeh
  • Miso (Japanese fermented broth base)

Foods Rich in Complex Carbs

Carbohydrates are essential for giving the brain the energy it needs to keep the muscles strong after surgery.

When the body is healing, it is especially important to make sure it is getting a constant supply of energy since it is putting in extra work to get better fast. Complex carbohydrates like those found in whole grain foods break down slowly over time to give the body a gradual energy input that will keep it from crashing and burning.

Here are the whole grain foods to go for:

  • Steel cut oats
  • Brown or wild rice
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Rye sourdough bread

Vitamin and Mineral Rich Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables are chock-full of vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin K, D, C, E, and A, not to mention minerals such as zinc and magnesium and the fatty acids that bodies need to be at their best, and this is especially true when recovering from surgery.

Here are some fruits and vegetables that pack an especially potent nutritional punch:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach
  • Avocados
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Sweet red peppers
  • Bananas
  • Tomatoes
  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Oranges

The Takeaway

In all, it is important to shoot for a healthy and balanced diet high in proteins and minerals. Be sure to skip out on foods high in harmful trans and saturated fats, as well as caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and excess salt until the recovery process is complete.

Remember that healthy eating habits are great, but they should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Anybody who is feeling uncertain about the proper follow-up and care procedures after their joint surgery should always be sure to consult a professional orthopedic specialist in the Fox Valley for clarification.