While surgery is no vacation, you should prepare for it like one. You should do some pre-planning and shopping (for food and supplements, not snorkels) and ensure you’ve packed your body full of all the most healing nutrients.
This is not to make light of what can be a very unnerving experience. But it is to get you or your loved ones in the right mindset when a surgery is on the horizon.
So here is a basic primer of a pre-surgery plan I would give—and have–to friends and family.
For mindset, I recommend trying mind-body techniques that are proven to lessen anxiety and promote faster healing. Peggy Huddleston’s Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster will provide visualization exercises, healing statements, and more.
For nutrients, Vitamin C and arginine are just two important ones that can help lower oxidative stress. Zinc is also important; if you avoid zinc-containing foods, like oysters, then it is worth supplementing separately.
Of course, before you take anything, check for a list of supplements that can interact with prescription medicine or anesthesia or pain medications that will be used. Your doctor I am sure can offer it. People’s Pharmacy has an excellent f=ree guide here.
Two weeks before surgery, begin to think of preparation in three areas: supplements, topical, and diet. Here are recommendations for each (links shared for convenience, but most of these can be found at good drug stores or pharmacies):
1. A multivitamin every day. Look for one with at least 30 milligrams of zinc, and low in vitamin E. In general, you want one with 100% DRI, or less. Also, opt for no iron if you are a woman who is no longer menstruating or a man.
2. Zinc, which might have to be taken separately as most multivitamins don’t have the amount needed for wound healing. Now Foods Zinc
3. Adequate Vitamin D3. Start with 1000 IU, taken with a little healthy fat in the morning, so you absorb it. NutriGold Vitamin D3 Gold Even better, know your vitamin D level to know whether you are deficient: many of us are. Test your Vitamin D level at home.
4. Bromelain and Vitamin C (stop if you get diarrhea or a stomachache), and rutin (or see diet suggestions, below). Now Foods Bromelain and Rutin. These plant compounds, also present in pineapple and onions respectively, help improve blood vessel stability: see below for more.
1. Daily application to the site of the surgery: several fat soluble vitamins. Remember A and D ointment? Some cosmetic procedures include pretreatment with retinoids (vitamin A) to accelerate repair. Vitamin D helps regulate the cell growth involved in wound healing.
2. Optional: coconut oil and shea butter are rich in Vitamin E, which decreases damage by free radical oxidation, and protects nerve tissue.
The key is to reduce inflammation throughout the body, starting two weeks before surgery if you can.
This means no fried foods, starchy or sugary foods, white pasta, potatoes or white rice. However, some research shows that carbohydrate loading the night before surgery can accelerate recovery. Eat 50-100 grams of carbs, if possible, the night before.
Do not char meat or cook it very well done: it increases inflammation. Marinate all meats to reduce HCA formation before cooking.
Eat more apples with their peels, asparagus, onions and buckwheat, for their rutin content: rutin is a flavonoid, antioxidant, a free radical scavenger, and an iron-chelator. It has been reported to decrease capillary fragility and permeability. Try to eat a rutin food daily.
Eat a high glutamine food, such as meat, fish, legumes, and dairy foods, daily. Two particularly high vegetable sources of glutamine are raw (uncooked) cabbage and beets
Eat two brazil nuts daily (will assure adequate selenium, which improves wound healing). Don’t eat more than this: too much selenium predisposes to diabetes.
Your efforts to prepare the body for surgery will not go unrewarded. With the right nutrients in place, wounds will heal faster and bones and muscle tissue will rebuild perhaps even healthier before.