Healing Foods for Post-Surgical Recovery or Wound Healing
There are many nutritious foods around the world, but knowing the right healing food, for post surgical recovery is essential.
There is a wide variety of nutritious foods available worldwide, but choosing the right kind for the suitable situation will assist in managing the condition better and looking after the overall health. For example, if someone has recently undergone a surgical procedure or an injury, the body needs good food to heal well and speed up the recovery process. A nutritional approach is consistently effective in speeding up healing.
Dieticians, health experts, and doctors believe foods rich in antioxidants, quality protein, and healthy fats repair the damage faster. However, the pathophysiology of wound repairing is a complex process. It involves various mechanisms, including hemostasis, cell migration, cell proliferation, tissue growth, and tissue remodelling. Therefore, if one lacks a proper diet or good nutrition, it will impair healing.
This article provides foods that are scientifically proven to be beneficial for wound care. Incorporating these few foods that are listed below promotes rapid wound healing.
Best Healing Foods
Research findings consider ginger to be one of the best healing foods. Ginger contains gingerol, which has potent medicinal properties and gives the superfood punch. It is famous for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is full of essential vitamins and minerals. Ginger speeds up the healing process and is beneficial, especially for minor cuts, abrasions, incision wounds, and nausea.
As per USDA, 100 grams of ginger hold the following nutritional values.
- Energy: 80 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 17.8g
- Fat: 0.75g
- Dietary fibre: 2g
- Calcium: 16mg
Note: This is the nutritional value for 100 grams of ginger. It is not the recommended amount for consumption. However, do not consume more than 4 grams each day.
Recent reports suggest beetroots possess antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties called betalains. The father of medicine “Hippocrates” recommended beetroot leaves for quick and secure healing of wounds. Rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, zinc, copper, iron, and other vitamins and minerals encourage wound healing. In addition, Beetroot juice can make scars, dark spots, and injury marks fade away.
As per USDA, 100 grams of beetroot hold the following nutritional values.
- Energy: 43 kcal
- Protein: 1.61g
- Carbohydrates: 9.56g
- Fat: 0.17g
- Dietary fibre: 2.8g
- Calcium: 16mg
- Magnesium: 23 mg
Note: This is the nutritional value for 100 grams of beetroot. 80-100 grams is considered safe for each day. However, every individual is unique, and the body requirements differ depending on specific conditions. Therefore, a customised plan is always good for healing faster.
Carrot is rich in vitamin C, which helps treat wounds faster. Besides vitamin C, it contains beta carotene, which helps heal scars and wound marks. Vitamin A plays a significant role in healing wounds. It is associated with collagen production, wound healing, and bone osteogenesis. Therefore, research proves carrots are suitable for wound care.
As per USDA, 100 grams of carrot hold the following nutritional values.
- Energy: 41 kcal
- Protein: 0.93g
- Carbohydrates: 9.58g
- Dietary fibre: 2.8g
- Calcium: 33mg
- Magnesium: 12mg
Note: This is the nutritional value for 100 grams of carrots. Safe recommendation differs from person to person, but 75-80 grams per day is good.
Research shows that flaxseeds encourage pro-inflammatory cytokine production at the location of the injury. You can consume it with yoghurt at breakfast. You can even add flaxseed oil for salad dressing. The benefits of flaxseeds are not unknown. Including flaxseeds in your diet improves your overall health.
As per USDA, 100 grams of flaxseeds hold the following nutritional values.
- Energy: 534kcal
- Protein: 18.3g
- Carbohydrates: 28.9g
- Fat: 42.2g
- Dietary fibre: 27.3g
- Calcium: 255mg
- Magnesium: 392mg
Note: This is the nutritional value for 100 grams of flaxseeds. It is not the recommended amount for consumption. However, 1 tbsp each day is considered safe for a healthy person.
Brussel sprouts fall under cruciferous veggies. It is rich in potassium, iron, thiamine, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin K, vitamin C, etc. It looks like mini cabbages. Since it is high in antioxidants, vitamin C helps produce collagen. The reasonable amount of vitamin K present in this vegetable stops the wounds from bleeding as it increases the clotting time. Studies have claimed the benefits of Vitamin C in brussels sprouts for wound healing. You can eat it as a salad, snacks, soups, and side dishes for meals.
As per USDA, 100 grams of brussels sprouts hold the following nutritional values.
- Energy: 43 kcal
- Protein: 3.38g
- Carbohydrates: 8.95g
- Fat: 0.3g
- Dietary fibre: 3.8g
- Calcium: 42mg
- Magnesium: 23mg
Note: This is the nutritional value for 100 grams of Brussels sprouts. However, the recommended amount for daily consumption is 75-80 grams per day.
Blueberries are a powerhouse of antioxidants. Therefore, nutritionists recommend them for treating wounds. Ascorbic acid in this berry helps in the clearance and apoptosis of neutrophils (one of the prime inflammatory cells employed in the wound section). Vitamin C and K present enable collagen synthesis. Polyphenolic compounds participate in contrasting features of wound healing. Overall, the consumption of blueberries is perfect due to the nutrients loaded in them.
As per USDA, 100 grams of wild blueberries hold the following nutritional values.
- Energy: 57 kcal
- Protein: 0.74g
- Carbohydrates: 14.5g
- Fat: 0.33g
- Dietary fibre: 2.4g
- Calcium: 6mg
- Magnesium: 6mg
Note: This is the nutritional value for 100 grams of blueberries. It is not the recommended amount for consumption. However, half a cup (75grams) is considered safe for daily intake.
Research has found that oatmeal helps improve diet quality. In addition, doctors recommend oatmeal if a patient has an injury in the digestive tract or is recovering from a surgical repair. It also improves digestive health. Rich in zinc and manganese, it helps renew skin cells, boost collagen production, and support wound healing.
As per USDA, 100 grams of oats hold the following nutritional values.
- Energy: 375kcal
- Protein: 12.5g
- Carbohydrates: 67.5g
- Fat: 6.25g
- Dietary fibre: 10g
Note: This is the nutritional value for 100 grams of oats. However, the recommended consumption is a half-cup (40 grams) per day.
Bee Honey (Raw-100% pure)
Traditionally, honey is known for its multiple benefits. Research has found that the use of honey helps improve wound healing. Applying honey to your wounds means you speed up recovery and inhibit bacterial growth in that area. It is used for healing, swelling, sores inside the mouth, burns, and wound dressing. Therefore, not only its consumption but also its topical application on injuries is beneficial.
As per USDA, 100 grams of honey hold the following nutritional values.
- Energy: 304kcal
- Protein: 0.3g
- Carbohydrates: 82.4g
- Dietary fibre: 0.2g
- Calcium: 6mg
- Magnesium: 2mg
- Potassium: 52mg
- Phosphorus: 4mg
- Ascorbic acid: 0.5mg
- Folate: 2µg
Note: This is the nutritional value for 100 grams of bee honey. It is not the recommended amount for consumption. Be sure that the honey is 100% pure. Honey bought from local stores or markets are adulterated with sugar solution, which will not be effective.
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, papaya, and kiwis contain a good amount of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is responsible for healthy skin and immune systems. Therefore, one must have vitamin C rich foods or supplements after surgery or any wound on your body. Research indicates citrus fruits can be a therapeutic potential for wound treatments. It can also aid in a minimal scar on the skin after surgery.
Studies aimed to determine avocado’s healing activities and properties show significant results. Loaded with vitamins, protein, and minerals, it proves good tissue healing. In addition, it accelerates collagen synthesis and decreases inflammatory cells.
As per USDA, 100 grams of avocado hold the following nutritional values.
- Energy: 160kcal
- Protein: 2g
- Carbohydrates: 8.53g
- Fat: 14.7g
- Dietary fibre: 6.7g
- Calcium: 12mg
- Magnesium: 29mg
Note: This is the nutritional value for 100 grams of avocado. It is not the recommended amount for consumption. ¼ to ½ (30-50 grams) avocados each day is considered safe. However, this is a general guide.
The essential element of turmeric is curcumin. This traditional spice has a lot of medicinal properties; curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric, has a powerful ability to control inflammation. Turmeric wound healing properties are no secret.
According to studies, curcumin present in turmeric is beneficial for wound healing and recovery. It also reduces the risk of having cutaneous wounds. The study also states that turmeric helps skin regeneration, and boosts collagen and skin elasticity. In addition, using turmeric with ginger has proven to be extremely helpful in treating wounds.
As per USDA, 100 grams of turmeric hold the following nutritional values.
- Energy: 312kcal
- Protein: 9.68g
- Carbohydrates: 67.1g
- Fat: 3.25g
- Dietary fibre: 22.7g
- Calcium: 168mg
- Magnesium: 208mg
Note: This is the nutritional value for 100 grams of turmeric. However, the general recommendation is half to one teaspoon per day.
As per research, walnuts are a rich source of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, the rich fibre content and vitamin E make them suitable for skin and hair health. Nuts and seeds like almonds, peanuts, or walnuts are excellent during post-surgery healing. It is a powerful healing food that is easy to consume as a snack. These foods provide plant-based protein and healthy fats, which are helpful in the healing process.
Walnuts are perfect for bone health. It is rich in copper, magnesium, and manganese, which are suitable for improving the quality of bones; if someone is going through a bone fracture, surgical repair. In addition, it helps maintain collagen and elastin, which are healthy for bone structure maintenance.
As per USDA, 100 grams of walnuts hold the following nutritional values.
- Energy: 654kcal
- Protein: 15.2g
- Carbohydrates: 13.7g
- Fat: 65.2g
- Dietary fibre: 6.7g
- Calcium: 98mg
- Magnesium: 158mg
Note: This is the nutritional value for 100 grams of walnuts. It is not the recommended amount for consumption. Approximately 25-30 grams (a handful) of walnuts are considered safe for a healthy human.
Apple is a rich source of phytochemicals. Consuming this inhibits cancer cell growth. In addition, according to a study, apples have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and wound healing properties.
As per USDA, 100 grams of apples hold the following nutritional values.
- Energy: 52 kcal
- Protein: 0.26g
- Fat: 0.17
- Dietary fibre: 2.4g
- Calcium: 6mg
- Magnesium: 5mg
Note: This is the nutritional value for 100 grams of apples. However, 1-2 small apples per day are allowed for a healthy individual.
Low-Fat Cow’s Milk
Proteins are the building block of tissues in our body. Milk is rich in it. Therefore, a person undergoing cell damage and wound healing should include milk in the diet, either for injury or post-surgery wound healing. Low-fat cow’s milk has proved to accelerate skin-wound healing. Therefore, daily, 1-2 servings of milk help recover from injury or surgery. In addition, low-fat cow milk has a good amount of calcium, essential in wound healing.
As per USDA, 100 ml of low-fat milk (1%) holds the following nutritional values.
- Energy: 43kcal
- Protein: 3.38g
- Carbohydrates: 5.19g
- Fat: 0.95g
- Calcium: 126mg
- Magnesium: 12mg
Note: This is the nutritional value for 100ml of low-fat milk (1%). The recommended amount for milk consumption is 1-2 cups/day for adults.
Foods to Avoid After Surgery
Some foods encourage wound healing and post-surgery recovery, but some can reverse the process. Most health problems and diseases are due to poor eating habits. Having a healthy gut itself targets the body for healthy functioning. Unfortunately, various foods slow down your healing process.
Red meat contains high fat in it. It can trigger constipation. However, amino acids in meat help in boosting wound healing but on the same side, there is a negative effect due to high-fat content. Health professionals recommend not to have red meat post-surgery. If one needs to rely on proteins to speed up healing, one should go for lean chicken, turkey, and seafood.
Processed foods contain artificial preservatives and flavours that may impair the healing process. These may give way to other discomforts and diseases. In addition, processed foods contain unhealthy added sugar, sodium, and saturated fats, slowing down the recovery process in post-surgery patients.
Sweets or sugary foods and drinks are the enemies of the healing process. It contain sugars and trigger blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and have an elevated blood glucose level, there will be a significant reduction in wound healing. Therefore, avoiding sugary foods and beverages is helpful.
Refined sugar and carbohydrates degrade the quality of healing. The term “degrade” means degrading the collagen and elastin quality by glycation process (loss of protein role and diminished elasticity of tissues, for example, blood vessels).
Alcohol consumption proved to impact negatively on recovery after injury or wounds. Therefore, one should avoid its consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption interferes with the stages of the wound healing process (inflammatory phase and proliferation phase). It disables the production of a protein that signals macrophages to repair the wounded area.
This article provides information on foods you should eat for quality recovery and speed up your wound healing process. In addition, making modifications in the diet may help to recover faster. For example, foods like raw honey, turmeric, apples, blueberries, beetroot, low-fat cow’s milk, lotus root, ginger, carrot, aloe vera, salmon, flaxseed, brussels sprouts, etc. assist in wound healing or post-surgery recovery and boost the process.
Avoiding foods high in refined products, processed food, and red meats is necessary. It affects wound healing and also mental state. Proper wound care prevents infections and other complications. Tissue healing is complex; therefore, include appropriate foods in the diet that can positively proceed with the healing process.
In conclusion, there are several ways to manage recovery, but a nutritional approach ensures sufficient calories and takes care of deficiencies. A customised plan from a registered dietician from the team of HealthifyMe will guide you better if you are experiencing any injury or need guidance for a diet after surgical repair. These foods listed above are beneficial for wound healing, ceteris paribus. Therefore, always consult a specialist to assess your requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What helps your body heal faster?
A. Making healthy food choices provide the right calories, vitamins, minerals, and good quality protein that promotes healing faster. Healthy eating habits, an appropriate lifestyle, quality sleep, and proper hydration are key elements that help the body heal at the earliest. Healing of the body requires various vitamins and antioxidants. Apart from your diet, the stress-free lifestyle also aids in faster recovery. Immunity is an important candidate for a speedy recovery.
Q. What foods make healing faster?
A. Many foods boost your healing process. All foods have their way of benefiting your recovery process. Some of the ideal foods are:
- Turmeric (which works as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic supplement)
- Low-fat cow’s milk (which helps in treating wounds, especially on the skin)
- Citrus fruits (fruits like lemon and oranges are much beneficial for improving overall skin quality and wound healing process)
The best foods associated with rapid healing are blueberries, ginger, lotus root, beetroot, apple, walnut, carrot, flaxseeds, salmon, aloe vera, and brussels sprouts.
Q. What foods clean your blood?
A. Foods such as pomegranate, blueberries, grapefruit, asparagus, cranberries, beetroot, strawberries, garlic, and cruciferous vegetables help clean the blood. In addition, antioxidants and vitamins remove toxins from the blood and promote detoxification. Having enough water in your daily routine also helps flush out toxins at an increased rate. Hydration also helps your kidneys to stay healthy and efficiently purify your blood.
Q. Can the human body heal itself?
A. Yes, the human body possesses an enormous and persistent capacity to heal itself independently. Even after the slightest injury or disease, our body begins producing new cells and repairing the damaged tissue. However, including nutritious foods inhibits oxidation, infections, and other complications and promotes the speedy regeneration of new cells and tissues.
Q. What fruit is good for recovery?
A. Citrus fruits like oranges and kiwis help heal wounds and post-surgery recovery. Avocados have potent antibacterial and antioxidants which prevent further damage to injuries and bacterial infection. Blueberries are rich in fibre and have good anti-inflammatory properties. Also, blueberries work after heart or cardiovascular surgeries. Apples also assist in the speedy recovery of the tissues.
Q. What drinks help heal wounds?
A. Water, unsweetened beverages, or drinks rich in calcium, antioxidants, vitamin C, zinc, and other essential nutrients help heal wounds. Green tea, chamomile tea, milk, and coconut water are a few drinkables that help the body treat wounds. The critical factor is to remain hydrated.
Q. How do you get rid of your body of toxins?
A. The term “toxins” typically includes chemicals, heavy metals, unwanted substances, and pollutants that negatively affect the body. Therefore, it is essential to detoxify the body to prevent bad breath, weight gain, fatigue, and other health concerns. Several detoxifying foods are available that assist in flushing out the toxins buildup, including blueberries, cranberries, grapefruit, apples, and many more. In addition, cucumbers are well known for eliminating toxins. Also, a few beverages like lemon cucumber water, beetroot and pomegranate juice, lemon ginger tea, coconut water, mint, and fresh aloe vera juice are ideal detox drinks.
Q. Which part of your body heals the fastest?
A. Wounds in the mouth heal the fastest. The mouth is the only body part in cells’ continuous formation and removal. It keeps on forming new layer lining and shedding old layers. Good hydration and skin elasticity are vital factors responsible for a speedy recovery.
Q. Are bananas good for recovery?
A. Bananas are rich in several essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them suitable for recovery. In addition, sports nutritionists often suggest bananas post workouts because they can rebuild damaged muscles and promote quicker healing.
Q. Is chicken good for muscle recovery?
A. Certainly, chicken is a good source of amino. Amino acids help recover any damage caused to skin, muscles or organs. However, for post-surgery recovery, try to consume lean chicken and avoid fatty foods and red meat. Red meat contains a good amount of fat which may cause constipation and slow down the recovery process.