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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Eating tips for best pre- and post-op outcomes

Jun 28, 2021 10:26AM ● By Wendell Fowler
A collection of vegetables, fruits and nuts

The human body possesses a wondrous inborn capacity to rebuild and heal itself when given the appropriate tools.

With every breath, trillions of cells work assiduously in maintaining the body’s natural balance. Our cells miraculously heal or replace themselves to keep our bodies functioning at optimal levels. But they require our mindful assistance. For eons, various cultures have relied on medicinal plants such as healing herbs, dating back to 3000 B.C.

However, when we abuse our earth suit by eating dead, manufactured foods, we become ill and our cells can be weakened, damaged or even destroyed.


After my wife’s bladder surgery, the surgeon entered the waiting room and declared, “She’s the healthiest 73-year-old I’ve encountered!” According to him, Sandi’s surgery wouldn’t have been nearly as successful if not for her plant-based diet, regular exercise and mindful self-maintenance.

In fact, a patient’s diet can affect their overall ability to heal. Collagen synthesis—an essential component of wound healing—requires a diet of unrefined carbs, clean animal or plant proteins, zinc and a cornucopia of plant-based vitamins in order to work and heal properly. According to,

“If you’ve had surgery, the food you eat can make a great impact on your recovery and on how quickly your wound heals. Eating the right foods can prevent complications such as constipation and high blood glucose, and provide the necessary building blocks of protein needed to heal quickly.”

Cells—life’s building blocks—need fuel to survive and thrive. Cells create tissues, bolster the immune system and convert nutrients into energy. Our miraculous body intelligence then sends signals and transports those nutrients to where they need to go. For all living organisms, food is energetic cellular fuel.

“Understanding the influence of food on cells could offer a better way to design diets,” said Randy J. Seeley, director of the Cincinnati Diabetes Center at the University of Cincinnati.

Cells operate at their best when fed a variety of clean plant nutrients. That’s why on the days we don’t eat a balanced, plant-centered diet or eat lots of processed foods, we can feel sluggish, short-tempered, light-headed and/or struggle to concentrate.

High-fiber foods also play a major role in preventing constipation, a common surgery complication especially when opioids are involved. Constipation can increase pain and the chances of returning to the hospital during recovery. Avoid constipating foods like dairy (milk, cheese), red meat, sweets and dehydrated foods (except prunes). However, some surgeries require avoiding fiber, so check with a medical authority first.

Dehydration causes an electrolyte imbalance and can decrease the oxygenation needed in organ tissues to promote natural healing. Drink several glasses of water per day to meet your hydration needs, and incorporate a variety of water-rich fruits, vegetables and dairy products in your diet.


Plan healthy, balanced meals and snacks that include the right amount of clean protein, dairy, seafood (not fried), fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber. Choose vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin C such as strawberries, apples, avocados, citrus, raspberries and spinach.

Foods with beta-carotene or vitamin A promote healthy scar tissue. Vitamin C helps make collagen, which is essential to wound healing and forming new tissue. Vitamin E or aloe vera may be used on the skin once the wound has healed and new skin has formed. Anecdotal reports claim vitamin E speeds up wound healing and improves the cosmetic outcome of burns and other wounds. (Note: oral vitamin E may increase the risk of bleeding.)

Zinc stimulates wound healing. B-complex vitamins, including B1 (thiamine) and B5 (pantothenic acid), may aid wound healing and skin health. Bromelain, a blood thinner, has reduced post-surgical swelling, bruising, healing time and pain in some studies.

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate may help heal wounds by encouraging the repair of connective tissue in the body. Both can increase the risk of bleeding, especially with blood thinners. If you have asthma or diabetes, ask your doctor before taking glucosamine.

Some third-party-inspected nutritional supplements may help wounds heal. However, if you’re having surgery, don’t take herbs or supplements without medical supervision, as they can negatively interfere with many pharmaceutical drugs.

Without the use of appropriate materials, a building will collapse. In the same way, when we feed our cells food diminished by processing, we, too, weaken our body’s miraculous mechanisms. Let’s take better care of these earth suits our souls inhabit during our short journey on this planet, starting with the food we consume. 

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