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Surgery: Diet for Pre and Post Operative Surgery

By
Lynne Brown
BSc Hons, HDE, Dip Clin Nutr

Start with a healthy liver

In the case of operations involving a general anaesthetic, the liver is the organ that takes the hardest knock from the drugs used. A good form of preparation for an operation would therefore involve restoring the liver to optimum health prior to undergoing surgery. Avoid alcohol and saturated fats. Wake up to a cup of hot water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed into it. Eat grapefruit with your breakfast and plenty of fresh fruit with lemon juice squeezed over it. Eat lots of fresh, raw or lightly steamed vegetables, especially the colourful varieties. Drink plenty of juiced carrots, beetroot or any other vegetable juices you can tolerate. These will very effectively detoxify your liver.

Sulphur containing foods best

To prevent the after-effects of anaesthetics, such as hepatitis, eat foods rich in the sulphur-containing amino acid, methionine, such as free-range eggs, brazil nuts, fish and meat. St Mary’s thistle which contains the active ingredient, silymarin, is excellent in protecting the liver against anaesthetics and so is dandelion root. These also help to regenerate liver cells if there is damage to the liver.

Anti-oxidants

Plenty of anti-oxidants are needed to neutralize the free-radicals which result from all the chemicals in anaesthetics and other drugs that may be prescribed. Mopping up of these free-radicals depends upon your levels of beta carotene, vitamin A, C and E as well as zinc, manganese and copper levels. Take a good plant-based green leaf multivitamin and mineral supplement such as AIM’s Barley Life for a few weeks before the operation. Your surgeon may insist you stop all vitamin supplements just prior to and immediately after the surgery. This is fine, however do try to get back onto them as soon as possible to give your body a fighting chance against infection. Prior to surgery eat plenty of pawpaw, beetroot, carrots, broccoli, apricots, all citrus, even the pith, and green, yellow and red peppers.

Preventing blood clots

For at least a month before your operation take a pharmaceutical grade fish oil capsule daily to keep your blood thin and prevent clotting after surgery. You will need to tell your surgeon you are taking these as he may wish to put you on a blood-thinning drug such as Warfarin and the two should not be taken together as this may cause excessive bleeding during surgery. Continue with your fish oil capsules as soon after surgery as possible.

Healing of wounds

Build up your liver stocks of beta carotene a week prior to surgery with carrot and beetroot juice which will also detox the liver. Beta carotene converts to vitamin A in your body and will improve wound tensile strength, thus preventing possible tearing. Eat lots of apricots and watermelon if in season. Vitamin E promotes healing of ulcerated tissue and helps prevent hard scar formation. Use it mainly as an ointment rubbed on the scar after the wound has closed but the vitamin E in your plant-based multivitamin supplement will also be of great benefit.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C promotes elastogen and collagen formation and prevents pressure sores. Mouth ulcers, common after surgery or chemotherapy, heal faster with 250 g vitamin C at meals and 500 mg at bedtime. Eat broccoli, pawpaw, kiwi fruit and oranges pre- and post surgery. Throw in bioflavanoids to strengthen the integrity of mucous membranes and zinc for the correct formation of collagen and elastogen, particularly for leg ulcers.

Cancer patients

Cancer patients should try to avoid infections after any surgery as infections will only hinder recovery. Supplement with buffered Vitamin C, 2g per day in divided doses, 20 mg zinc, 2g bioflavonoids). This same program may be used by all patients going for surgery.

Bromelain

Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, reduces oedema and inflammation. Either eat lots of pineapple or take bromelain in supplement form. If undergoing plastic surgery you could minimize bruising by using Vitamin C, bioflavonoids and zinc before surgery and bromelain after.

Help from food

In general then your diet pre and post surgery should include fish, meat, oysters, brazil nuts, eggs, pawpaw, apricots, kiwi, oranges, grapefruit, all citrus including pith, pineapple, carrots, beetroot, brussel sprouts, broccoli and capsicum (the pepper family). Following these guidelines should take you comfortably and safely through surgery and lead to a speedier recovery.

Disclaimer: All information here is for educational purposes only and is not meant to cure, heal, diagnose nor treat. This information must not be used as a replacement for medical advice, nor can the writer take any responsibility for anyone using the information instead of consulting a healthcare professional.  All serious disease needs a physician.

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