The Often-Forgotten Factor: 10 Foods That Help You Recover After an Injury or Surgery

By on May 28, 2021

Food is the best medicine out there. What a person eats or drinks directly affects their body’s ability to heal following an injury or surgery. That’s why incorporating a well-balanced diet as part of the healing process is crucial.

Processed foods, like those found at fast-food restaurants or in the grocery store’s freezer section, are convenient. However, they also contain inflammatory ingredients that may hinder recovery. It’s best to incorporate various fresh foods, such as fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and protein. Patients who want to recover faster should request hospital meals that contain these 10 healing foods:

  1. Eggs

Eggs not only make a delicious breakfast, but they can also help a person heal faster. That’s because they are a great source of protein. A single egg contains about six grams. In addition, eggs also contain B12, vitamin A, zinc, iron, and selenium, which are all important to immune health.

Protein is essential after surgery or an injury. Patients should increase their protein intake by nearly double for the best results. While the recommended daily allowance for most adults is 50 grams per day, it’s best to aim for 100 grams during recovery. It doesn’t matter if a person chooses to scramble, fry, or poach their eggs. Eating plenty of them will aid in the recovery process.

  1. Leafy Greens

There’s a reason Popeye always downed his spinach. Leafy green vegetables are chock-full of healthy nutrients, including vitamin C, folate, and magnesium. These vegetables also contain a hefty amount of iron and lots of antioxidants. Which greens should a recovering patient request? Spinach, kale, arugula, and Swiss chard all top the list.

Leafy green vegetables help reduce inflammation and improve immune function. For instance, quercetin, a powerful antioxidant, helps prevent inflammatory responses in the body. The nutrients found in leafy greens may play a role in helping wounds heal faster. Go ahead and order that side salad, or add a handful of greens to a smoothie.

  1. Berries

Berries are colorful, sweet, and full of healthy nutrients. They contain plenty of vitamin C. This potent vitamin helps cells heal faster by stimulating collagen production. Berries are also packed with antioxidants which help fight free radicals in the body. Antioxidants fight inflammation, serve as antivirals, and support the immune system. During recovery, be sure to eat plenty of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, acai berries, and grapes.

  1. Wild Salmon

Do you want a single food that provides a variety of healing nutrients? Salmon should be the main course. This oily fish contains loads of protein, B vitamins, and healthy fats. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help wounds heal faster. Salmon also has plenty of selenium, iron, and salt to help boost the body’s immune response. Those who don’t like the flavor of salmon may choose to take fish oil supplements instead.

  1. Nuts and Seeds

As previously discussed, protein is essential to healing after an injury. However, most protein comes from animal-derived sources. Those who follow a plant-based diet need to get their protein elsewhere. Nuts and seeds are perfect options. Almonds, pecans, walnuts, and sunflower seeds contain large amounts of protein.

Additionally, nuts and seeds are good sources of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. For instance, almonds are very high in vitamin E. This vitamin prevents cellular damage and boosts the immune system.

  1. Poultry

As it turns out, eating a fresh chicken or turkey sandwich is the perfect lunch following surgery. Poultry contains essential amino acids, including glutamine and arginine. These amino acids help cells heal faster. Glutamine acts as a cellular protectant, and arginine boosts collagen production. Since the body loses amino acids when stressed or injured, eating plenty of poultry is even more important.

  1. Cruciferous Veggies

Cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts not only taste great in casseroles and side dishes, but these veggies offer a ton of health benefits. Cruciferous vegetables contain loads of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are a good source of glucosinolates. These compounds help reduce inflammation and destroy infected cells. Cruciferous veggies also have plenty of vitamin C and B vitamins, which may shorten a person’s recovery time.

  1. Sweet Potatoes

Can one food be sweet, savory, and healthy all at once? Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious foods available. Most health experts agree that sweet potatoes are a superfood. They contain lots of antioxidants, including beta carotene. This robust antioxidant gives the body the boost it needs to heal after surgery or an injury. Beta carotene is vital for immune health and even helps strengthen bones.

Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of carbohydrates. The body converts carbs into energy. Eating enough carbohydrates after surgery helps cells regenerate quickly, and following a high-carb diet following surgery is crucial. In fact, restricting carbohydrates could delay wound healing.

  1. Shellfish

Shellfish may help speed up healing after surgery. These foods contain loads of zinc. Just a handful of oysters contains more than 300-percent of the recommended daily value for zinc. This micronutrient helps regulate wound healing during every step. Zinc promotes membrane repair, reduces oxidative stress, and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Oysters, mussels, and clams not only make a tasty meal, but they can also aid in the recovery process.

  1. Organ Meats

While not palatable to everyone, organ meats remain some of the most nutrient-dense foods out there. Heart, liver, and kidney are the most commonly consumed. Organ meats contain plenty of vitamin A, B vitamins, iron, zinc, and copper. Together, these nutrients encourage the production of collagen and connective tissue. Furthermore, vitamin A helps fight inflammatory cells and boosts skin health. What’s the best way to eat organ meats? Try grinding small amounts into meatballs or burgers. Organ meats also taste delicious thinly sliced and fried in a pan.

Heal Faster with Food

Everyone has to eat, but consuming the wrong foods may hasten recovery after an injury or surgery. Try to incorporate a wide range of healthy foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, and meats. The right nutrients will give your body the tools it needs to heal faster and shorten the recovery process.

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The Often-Forgotten Factor: 10 Foods That Help You Recover After an Injury or Surgery