Healing Fast After Surgery

March 5, 2024

Americans undergo an average of nine surgical procedures in their lifetime, so today, we’re sharing tips and tools on how to eat real food and support your body for the best possible surgical recovery. If you haven’t had a surgical procedure yet, odds are that something will arise in the future, even if it’s just a minor procedure. Both of our co-hosts for this show have had major surgeries and know firsthand what the typical recommendations are that your surgeon and nursing staff tell you to do ahead of time to prepare. Tune in to hear what you can do with food and a few key supplements to help your body heal to reduce some of your post-surgery pain, swelling, risk of infection, and slower wound healing.

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MELANIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. We are a company specializing in life-changing nutrition education and counseling. I'm Melanie Beasley, a Licensed and Registered Dietitian, and I've been in the field for over 30 years and really enjoy meeting with my clients either in person or virtually.

Surgery prevalence

I've noticed a pattern in the last decade that ties into today's topic, which is healing fast after surgery. More and more of my clients talk about having upcoming surgery scheduled, or they list off several surgeries they've had in the past. I don't remember surgery being so common 10 or 20 years ago. It could be because I was younger and my group of people wasn't having surgeries, but I feel like my clients, I'm hearing more surgery.

KARA: That is really interesting, Melanie. And one reason surgeries are more common these days; there actually are statistics about this; well, it could be because Americans have a longer lifespan. The average male lives to be 74 and the average female lives to be age 79.

And there was an article in Johns Hopkins Medicine, and it said that more than a third of all surgeries in United States hospitals, now this is both inpatient and outpatient surgeries, they're performed on people age 65 and older.

MELANIE: Wow. So, statistically, we are having more surgeries in our country.

KARA: Based on, yes, the number of surgeries happening and the average age of how long folks are living these days.

MELANIE: Yeah. And those parts start breaking down.

KARA: Mm hmm.

MELANIE: So basically one in three people getting surgery are over the age of 65. Well, that could explain with our aging population why it is more common these days to get surgery. I read something else while preparing for the podcast that Americans undergo an average of nine surgical procedures in their lifetime and this came from the data found in the American College of Surgeons and that number was in 2018. It's probably even higher in 2024. I know I've had 14 surgeries.

KARA: I forget that because I only know about a handful of yours.

MELANIE: I don't brag on them.

KARA: I mean, no, you're so healthy and everything. It just, you know, so you've, I'm very glad that you've recovered from all of them.

MELANIE: Oh, thank you. I often wonder if I get a discount on cremation.

KARA: Oh, Melanie; you're funny. Well, we both saw that information that you just shared and I was kind of shocked that the number was that high. The nine average surgeries in a lifetime breaks down to an average of three outpatient; outpatient is basically just a same day surgery.

MELANIE: Yeah, they don't keep you.

KARA: And six inpatient. So that's there's where you get your nine average. Inpatient is it's more invasive where they keep you overnight or for longer. So that's a good lead into our show that backs up why we want to share tips and tools on how to eat real food to support your body for the best possible surgical recovery. Chances are if you haven't had a surgical procedure yet, the odds are in your favor that something might arise in the future, even just a minor procedure; just pretty common.

MELANIE: Mm hmm. I think so.

KARA: So I should introduce myself before we go any further. My name is Kara Carper. I'm a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist, and I've been with Nutritional Weight and Wellness for a while. I'm really excited to be teaching a couple different sessions of classes right now.

I'll just briefly share, but there's our signature 12 week series. It's called Foundations. Our longtime listeners may know that as Nutrition for Weight Loss. But it has a new name since the classes were recently updated, and starting in March, I will be teaching Foundations via Zoom and an Ongoing Support and Education session over Zoom as well. If you're not familiar with Ongoing Support and Education, Melanie and I will just briefly fill you in about that during break today.

MELANIE: Yep. Yeah. Those are great classes.

KARA: Yeah.

MELANIE: Well, back to our topic, healing fast after surgery, Kara, you and I have both had major surgeries. We've compared notes and we know firsthand what the typical recommendations are that your surgeon and nursing staff tell you to go ahead in time to prepare. And there's usually a period of time where you can't eat or drink anything prior to surgery. 12 hours of fasting is common. Right?

KARA: Yep. And they might have you scrub down with a strong antimicrobial soap or solution. Sometimes they'll recommend stopping certain supplements or medications pre surgery. But it's not common to get instructions on what foods to eat or not to eat so that you can support your body to successfully heal post surgery.

MELANIE: So listeners, as you're listening to our show, think about a surgery you have coming up. Some surgeries are more of an emergency and you can't really plan ahead. But many surgeries are scheduled, which means you do have time to set your body up for a successful healing post surgery. And that's what we want to talk about today.

KARA: And I happen to have a personal example. It's the big surgery that I had last year. And I sustained an injury, unfortunately, during a dance performance in my daughter's dance recital of all places. So it wasn't diagnosed correctly right away. Once it was diagnosed, It was determined that I had a ruptured Achilles tendon and I had three weeks before my surgery to prepare nutritionally and take a couple supplements and just mentally prepare as well.

MELANIE: Yeah. Get the house in order.

KARA: Absolutely.

MELANIE: All those things.

KARA: Get the childcare situated.

MELANIE: And you did some things. What did you do?

KARA: Well, being a nutritionist, I do eat pretty good, you know, probably 80 percent of the time and balanced, but knowing that you're going to be put to sleep and a surgeon's going to be cutting into you, that gave me even more motivation to do things better, closer to 90 to 100%.

Adequate protein consumption is helpful before & after surgery

So I started weighing out my protein. And we're going to talk. more about how important protein is for healing the body. But I wanted to make sure I was getting enough. And my goal was to be eating 16 ounces per day at minimum. An example of what that looked like was four ounces at breakfast, which was for me, three eggs and an ounce of nitrate free sausage.

Then my lunch consisted of five ounces of protein. I just weighed out a five ounce cooked chicken breast. Some days I'd have a whole can of tuna. And for dinner, I'd have another five ounces. Examples of that would be a beef patty; maybe a salmon filet, and in between lunch and dinner I typically would have one snack. And I would incorporate two ounces of protein, like a half cup of full fat cottage cheese. So if you're doing the math, there's 16 ounces in a day.

MELANIE: Just to pipe in there, I remember during several of my surgeries coming out and I just had no appetite. But I knew what I knew from being a nutritionist. So for me at time it was protein smoothies and that was the best that I could do because I just didn't have an appetite, which a lot of it is the pharmaceuticals that you're on when you come out of the surgery or the nature of the surgery. I know you can lose appetite if the surgery, you're more likely to have nausea and appetite loss if the surgery is between your throat and your hips.

KARA: Oh, I didn't realize that.

MELANIE: So those can really affect your appetite. So keep that in mind, just to be flexible, right? Because if the cooking of food isn't appealing, but it sounds like your appetite was fine because it was foot.

KARA: Yeah. And this was, you know, cut before and after, but I was fortunate that I did not lose my appetite.


KARA: Afterwards.

MELANIE: Which is great.

KARA: Yeah.

MELANIE: Well, hands down getting enough quality animal protein really, it's the most important thing people can do to set up for successful surgery and recovery.

Why is protein so critical?

So let's talk about why protein is so critical. We could do a whole podcast on protein. I think we have several on our website on protein, but here's a list of ways protein is helpful to recover from surgery. We need protein for wound healing to keep our immune system strong and to prevent inflammation or infection because that's going to keep you comfortable and help that wound to heal better.

KARA: And protein is also key for repairing damaged tissues. Think about all the tissues you have in your body. Well, what are tissues? First of all, everything in our body is made up of some type of tissue. Protein breaks down into amino acids and those are used to repair our skin, organs, muscles, bones, ligaments, my tendon, and cartilage as well.

MELANIE: Yeah. Protein is going to help restore energy after surgery and if someone is not eating enough protein post-surgery, the body starts breaking down muscle tissue to get its supply of amino acids. So, to preserve muscle mass, we need that protein and it really helps to speed up that whole healing process.

You know, after one of my surgeries, again, I had no appetite; wasn't hungry, wonderful neighbors and friends were bringing food over and nothing appealed to me until someone brought walking tacos, was what it was called. After I got some of that protein in, the ground meat in, I felt like someone had watered me. Like I just came to life.

KARA: Like a dry plant.

MELANIE: Yeah. It was amazing. And then that in turn fed my appetite again. So once I started eating, then I, my appetite started coming back.

KARA: So it sounds like your body responded because it naturally needed that protein for healing.

MELANIE: Yeah. Starving doesn't help either. It makes you nauseated.

KARA: Right. I think, yeah, that's a great point. Just kind of finding something that you're willing to eat and just getting creative. Like you said, we'll talk more later about whey protein shakes and different alternatives to eggs and chicken and things like that.


KARA: And so Melanie had shared earlier, there's a couple different types of surgeries. Some you can't plan for because they're more of an emergency. So even if that happens to you or has happened to you, it's important to still try to figure out how can you get the equivalent of four ounces of protein at every meal. And remember, my goal was 16 ounces total per day.

Now, if you are someone who is not really understanding the ounces or you prefer to measure protein in grams, then you're striving for about 100 grams per day. So that's 30 grams at meals and 15 grams at snacks.

Ways to get protein in

MELANIE: Yeah. And that would be a minimum depending upon your size and the magnitude of your surgery, you might need more. So if you're not in the habit of eating at least a hundred grams of protein each day, for some people, having a smoothie with that high quality protein powder is a great way to get a quick, easy 30 grams in.

I also like clients to slip on bone broth and there are a lot of cheaply made protein powders out there that you don't want to be taking in because then that's an onslaught to a body that's already fighting something. So you want to avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame. Even better is a grass-fed source of protein powder that isn't overly priced or heated to a high temperature. So you're getting the bang for your buck without it causing damage to the body.

KARA: Right. Like the high sugar or the artificial sweeteners you mentioned, those are just creating more inflammation and they're not going to do as well with the healing portion.

MELANIE: 100 percent.

KARA: And so personally I do stick with our brands I guess. Well, I work here so it's easy, but they are top notch quality and my favorite is the Wellness Whey Chocolate. Now if you're someone that doesn't digest whey protein very well…


KARA: Okay. So Melanie, you can maybe speak to this. If you still have shakes or protein shakes or you were going to make one, would you use the Paleo?

MELANIE: A beef source. And it doesn't taste like a steak, it tastes like the vanilla or the chocolate or whatever, but, it's more of a Paleo Protein. So it's made from beef. I also like the collagen as another, we're going to talk about that.

There's zero dairy in those and so it doesn't, if you're dairy intolerant or allergic, you're going to be avoiding that, and still getting your protein in. And they're, delicious options and if you go to our website at weightandwellness.com, you're going to see the options that in the brands that we stand behind because we know they're third party tested.

Shop Protein Powder

KARA: Yeah, absolutely; very high quality, pharmaceutical grade.

MELANIE: So you and I, we love that brand by Nutrikey, and we have both used Key Collagen powder as well, and this gives some extra healing and recovery in addition to the protein we've been talking about. Collagen is a building block for cells, so in wound therapy it stimulates immune cells and fibroblasts and that promotes healing.

KARA: And especially if you're having knee surgery, hip surgery, skin surgery, or something like my surgery, which was done on a tendon, collagen is a type of protein that makes up your skin, nails, hair, and bones and joints. And so it's like an extra boost of healing in addition to that dietary protein that we're suggesting you get in.

MELANIE: All the connective tissues take a role in healing and that's what that collagen helps with, which is great. And if a client tells me they have a surgery scheduled for any type of joint replacement or surgery to a joint like hip, shoulder, ACL, knee surgery, I always suggest adding in two scoops of collagen.

The one I recommend is usually Key Collagen. Again, that's the one I know. And ideally a couple weeks before surgery and a couple months after surgery. So I like a collagen that is medical food grade; collagen that has specific medical peptides for healing, not just any collagen that you can buy in the grocery store or on Amazon.

KARA: Again, just like similar to the protein powder we discussed, it's important to get that high quality collagen that's bioavailable as well. And so collagen helps to restore joint mobility. Another big benefit is improved skin elasticity. Studies show that it helps tissue repair, wound healing, and can actually reduce pain around that incision site. So, you know, everyone who has surgery is going to deal with an incision site. Wouldn't you want your incision site to heal quickly and as well as possible?

MELANIE: Yeah, my husband had skin surgery. And, we did all the things that we're talking about today. And within six weeks, it looked like a fine line. It was amazing. So one thing people might not realize is that collagen protein is a little different than other complete animal proteins. I recommend having all the regular animal protein and then adding collagen as a bump for healing surgery.

KARA: That's a question that I hear a lot. Can you please explain, why isn't collagen the same as eating eggs, meat, fish, or even having a whey or a beef protein powder?

MELANIE: It's not a complete protein. It's a medical food bump that helps bump us into a better place, which means when it's not complete, it's missing one of the essential amino acids, which is tryptophan, which we need to make serotonin and melatonin and some other functions in the body. So that in turn is why we don't call it a complete protein; doesn't have all of those amino acids.

KARA: Great discussion. Yeah, I think that's an important piece. I definitely took Key Collagen powder after my tendon surgery and I just pictured it in my head as doing that extra healing on the tendon, the joints, and all the tissues and skin.

But it wasn't something that I replaced my other protein with. I just, in addition, added one scoop of Key Collagen. I put one scoop in my coffee actually and it stirs right up, it kind of melts right in and it's flavorless, odorless. Then I would add another scoop later to a protein shake. But I was still putting in 30 grams of whey protein powder in that shake.

MELANIE: All of it to get it all together. And when you're going through any kind of surgery, whether it's minor, whether it's major, it’s traumatic to the tissues and there will always be some inflammation after surgery. And that's the body's natural protective response and this kind of inflammation, it's normal.

Avoid processed carbohydrates & sugar to manage inflammation/support immunity

It's to be expected, but if you're a soda drinker or you love to have ice cream before bed every night, or you grab cereal with milk for breakfast because you're too tired to make anything because you are recovering from surgery, here's a few things we want to keep in mind. That extra, processed carbohydrate or sugar is creating unnecessary inflammation that will make it harder to heal and recover after surgery.

So short term acute inflammation is normal, but sugary foods and soda and processed carbohydrates are going to lead to chronic inflammation. which is long term inflammation. It's also something to keep in mind is that steady flow of sugar in your bloodstream increases your risk of infection because bacteria feed on sugar. So we don't want that inflammation site to be pumped full of sugar on top of it, but we're ready for our first break.

KARA: You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Our topic today is “how you can heal and recover quickly after surgery”. The average American will have nine surgical procedures in their lifetime. So, this is a relevant topic for most people. We know that eating a real whole food diet that's low in sugar and has adequate protein, of course, healthy fats and vegetable carbohydrates, is ideal for pre and post-surgery healing.

But we also know that sugar cravings and sometimes old food habits we've gotten into can interfere with our good intentions. And we have a program at Nutritional Weight and Wellness that offers group support and behavior change if you're struggling in these areas. And you can get more information on our website, which is weightandwellness.com.


MELANIE: Welcome back. You are listening to the Dishing Up Nutrition weekly podcast. Fast healing after surgery is our topic today. Before break, Kara mentioned our Ongoing Support and Education program. We offer these 8 week sessions for people who have already taken the 12 week foundation series.

Ongoing Support & Education is a series for folks who are looking for like-minded people when it comes to nutrition and lifestyle. So are you wanting a community of nutrition peers who will be there to support and listen? You'll also receive a knowledgeable facilitator to guide your group through the way for these 8 weeks.

Call our office at 651-699-3438 or go to weightandwellness.com for more information on these wonderful class sessions called Ongoing Support & Education. New groups are starting up this spring in 2024.

Sign up for Ongoing Support & Education

KARA: Wonderful. So before break, Melanie, you were talking about inflammation. You know, there's the acute inflammation post surgery, which is completely normal. And we want that inflammation to start the healing process. But if someone is eating too many processed carbohydrates or sugary foods or drinking soda, that can create unnecessary longer term inflammation. And like you shared, it's really important. It's going to take longer to heal, and there's an increased risk of infection. So, if your body can't heal as well, you also might have more post surgery pain, swelling, and slower wound healing.

MELANIE: We went over the importance of eating protein with every meal and snack, but it's also important to stop drinking soda and those sugary beverages because of your risk of infection. And also remember reading research about sugar affecting the immune system, because when you're eating sugar, your immune system is suppressed and lowered for several hours.

KARA: So interesting. I'm going to actually repeat that because if you want to recover and heal from surgery, your immune system needs to be working as well as it can going into surgery and post-surgery. So Melanie just said sugar weakens and lowers the immune system. The white blood cells act as protection against viruses and bacteria, but eating sugar or drinking soda, maybe it's a sweet coffee drink or an energy drink loaded with sugar, those lower white blood cell count and of course that lowers immune function.

MELANIE: Nobody wants a weak immune system going into surgery and the risk of post surgery infection, which is called a nosocomial infection, goes up. And when you're already in the hospital environment, you think about all the bacteria that you're exposed to; I think I read on the average, it's 3% of people that go into the hospital end up with a nosocomial infection.

So that would be something like urinary tract infection, bacterial infection, and so forth. Also, when that sugar is high, when, like we mentioned, from eating processed carbohydrates and sugar, you're at a higher risk because it suppresses your immune system.

KARA: The big offenders are the obvious sweet treats, but remember that processed carbohydrates act the same way as sugar in the body. So when we talk about cereal, muffins, bread, crackers, granola bars, things like that, all being processed carbohydrates, they break down into too much sugar in the bloodstream and that weakens the immune system as well. And so if you're wondering, well, what should I eat for carbohydrates?


Eat real food carbohydrates

KARA: “I'm not supposed to eat bread and crackers and granola bars.” Real vegetables and real fruit. Those are carbohydrates. So just think about your favorite vegetable and fruit. Find a couple ways to prepare them that you enjoy. You know, it can be really simple. I love to do a pan of roasted cauliflower in the oven. And it's just got some olive oil, salt and pepper;

Super simple. Another great oil aside from olive oil is avocado oil. You can go to the grocery store and you can find a salad dressing that is made of avocado oil. And you can have, make a simple green salad, you know, sometimes I'll just put cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and sprinkle some feta cheese and put a nice dressing on it.

So again, it can be very simple. If you like berries, you could get fresh or frozen, pour a little heavy whipping cream right from the carton on top. And as an extra treat, maybe add a few dark chocolate chips. So eating that real food and those real carbohydrates, it can be delicious and satisfying as well.

Eat natural fats for healing

MELANIE: So did you know, listeners, that every cell in our bodies have a membrane that's made up of fat? So each little cell surrounded by a wall of fat, and for your best post-surgery healing, you'll want to give your body an oil change and remove all the process factory made oils and fats from your refrigerator or cupboard and replace them with real natural oils, cold pressed or expeller pressed fats, grass fed animal fats. So that's the best way to prepare for surgery is get rid of those inflammatory processed factory fats.

KARA: Most of us at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we have a pretty small list of oils in our cabinet because a lot of the oils at the grocery store are those refined oils and those are going to create more inflammation. And remember that higher inflammation created by inflammatory foods prevents wound healing, surgical recovery, and can weaken that immune system.

Here's a short list of oils that many of our dietitians have in their cupboards: unrefined coconut oil, grass fed butter. One brand that is fairly easy to find is that Kerrygold; avocado oil, 100 percent olive oil. So those are just a few: simple and easy.

MELANIE: Yeah, that's a great list, Kara. For the sake of healing your cells, just please throw out vegetable oil, corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower and cottonseed oil and even canola oil. There is no canola plant by the way. So it's very processed and unrefined and check, you know, labels for these oils are hidden in everything right now.

KARA: They really are. Anything that has an ingredient list, you should be reading labels and just avoid anything that has the soybean or the canola or the vegetable oil. Now, a few more ways to incorporate healthy fats and oils with your meals and snacks are just to stock up on avocados, olives, raw or dry roasted nuts and seeds, really avoid nuts and seeds roasted in any oil because that's going to be damaged. Nut butters; and if you're looking for a peanut butter or preferably like an almond butter, maybe a sun butter, just nuts and salt in the ingredients. Guacamole, full fat sour cream, full fat cream cheese.

Injury & Surgical Support Formula supports healing from surgery

MELANIE: We do have more tools in the toolbox for you and one that Kara and I are really excited to talk about is a supplement called Injury and Surgical Support Formula. The company that makes this wonderful formula is local here in Minnesota. It's called Nutridyn. They manufacture professional grade supplements, which just means that they need to be sold to a licensed practitioner. The quality is impeccable. I have people coming in off the streets in our clinics asking, “What should I take before surgery?” This is always my go to.

KARA: And Nutridyn, they've been around a long time. It's a family owned and run business. They do so much research and third-party testing before they launch any of their products. The first time I learned about this Injury and Surgical Support, it was years ago.

Like you and I said, we've both had some major surgeries and I had an unplanned cesarean section and the recovery was fairly brutal. But I remember Dar, who's the owner of Nutritional Weight and Wellness, she heard about this and had the front desk staff mail me a bottle of this magical supplement when she found out about my C section. And it really checks all the boxes that you would ever want for healing and recovering after surgery.

MELANIE: Let's take a deep dive into some of the things that are in there.

KARA: And so if you want to speed up wound healing, not just for your incision site, but for the tissues and bones and organs that were operated on, this product has vitamins A, C, E, and zinc. That's going to help keep your immune system strong and aids healing tissues and healing that wound as well.

MELANIE: Yep. And I like that they put in MSM, which reduces bruising, swelling, and scar tissue, and glucosamine in the formula to reduce inflammation and support cartilage and other tissue recovery. Plus there's trypsin, which is an enzyme that removes dead cells and allows healthy tissue to grow, and when combined with other enzymes, it seems to reduce inflammation and swelling.

KARA: And lastly, there are BCAAs. That just stands for branched chain amino acids. And when I was taking this pre and post-surgery, I was able to use it like a multivitamin because it does also contain B vitamins, some vitamin D and minerals. But it is important to take the recommended six tablets per day.


KARA: Don't worry. It's not something… I know six.

MELANIE: Which let's just clarify why is it six? It's because when you activate and chelate and put the nutrients in the appropriate form for high absorbability, they're larger molecules. So you can't just jam it all into one pill.

KARA: Absolutely. That list that we gave you of everything that is contained in the product, if you were to purchase that separately, it probably would be, what 12, 15 bottles of supplements?

MELANIE: Yep. And if you take two with each meal, you know, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it's doable.

KARA: Yeah. We do recommend that. You know, maybe take it with breakfast, take it with dinner, take it with a meal. If you know you have a scheduled surgery coming up, it's great to take this ahead of time. Just purchase one bottle, which is a 30 day supply and start it ASAP. You know, as soon as you find out you have a scheduled surgery.

MELANIE: Yep. And did you notice that it helped in your recovery, Kara, for either of your surgeries?

KARA: Absolutely. Actually it was more my surgeons who were impressed and passed on that information to me. Sometimes it's hard to know what's going on inside the body when you're healing post surgery, but when you take the Injury and Surgical Support Formula, that quick healing around the incision and the wound is phenomenal.

And I remember in both cases of the surgeries I've discussed today, the surgeons commented on how good everything looked. The scarring from my C section and the Achilles tendon repair had minimal scar tissue showing.

MELANIE: Yeah, it's great. And really we don't want a bunch of scars after surgery. Another dietitian shared several years ago that she went in for skin surgery. And if you've ever had skin surgery with a mole removal or precancerous or cancerous growth removed on your skin, those wounds can be really deep.

And this dietitian's skin surgery was on her face. So she was really worried about scarring and with the first, the food first approach, which she did, she focused on, like we talked about adequate protein, healthy fats and vegetables; she also took the Injury and Surgery Formula and added in some Key Collagen and she recovered beautifully.

KARA: I remember hearing that story as well and at her four week follow up she went in for a recheck and the skin doctor commented on how quickly the wound on her face was healing, much faster than what he was used to seeing for wound healing. So I guess at the four week mark, he could hardly even see her wound.

The importance of supporting intestinal health

MELANIE: Yeah, it's wonderful. Before we wrap up our podcast, I wanted to share a story about a client of mine who had a surgery and ended up with some serious digestive issues afterward. And what happened was during our nutrition consultation, she complained about constipation, nausea, bloating, and gas. She had a hysterectomy and ever since was dealing with these severe gut issues.

KARA: Well, when someone has surgery, they also have antibiotics to prevent infection during the procedure. And we know antibiotics there’s certainly a time and a place and this would be the right time to take them, but it's wiping out both good and bad bacteria. So it makes sense that she would have some of those uncomfortable issues post-surgery because her good bacteria was killed off from the antibiotics.

MELANIE: Yeah, and we know a common bacterial infection that can happen is C. diff.

KARA: C. difficile is the full name.

MELANIE: Yeah: full name. And, that can cause a whole host of other problems. That was not her portion, but, anesthesia, pain medications, all of these can cause some digestive issues because microbiome system.

KARA: And most surgeries do require anesthesia and then antibiotics; either the oral pills that you swallow, or you might not even realize you're getting antibiotics in an IV that's hooked up to your arm in the bloodstream. And then often you go home and you have a prescription for a narcotic, or maybe Tylenol and Ibuprofen. But regardless, those medications can really do a number on the gut.

MELANIE: They can. And she had all of these things: this surgery cocktail, which included some pretty heavy pain medications to manage her pain after surgery, which contributed, of course, to constipation.

KARA: That's not uncommon. I can certainly relate to that with my past surgeries as well. Taking probiotics, which is just another term for good bacteria, before and after surgery, that was always part of my regimen. I was always fortunate to know about probiotics and the benefits because I was working here.

MELANIE: Yeah. Which is great. Most of my surgeries, I was not working here, so I didn't know some of these things, but I felt really bad for this client. She was bloated. She was constipated. She had signs of yeast infections. So pretty common after, like I said, that cocktail of medications that you need, but it does take a toll on the body. So the solution is adding in that quality probiotic supplement and then upping some fermented foods that have an active culture to replace what she'd lost.

Shop Quality Probiotic Options

KARA: And plain yogurt does contain some good bacteria, or probiotic, to restore that missing bacteria. Other foods that contain good bacteria are kimchi, miso, and fresh sauerkraut. One brand that I've seen is Bubbie’s. And those are good sources of probiotics.

MELANIE: You just don't want to heat them up, because then you kill the active bacteria in there. But one thing I've found with my clients, and actually family members as well, is that after the strong antibiotics and medications given during surgery, the microbiome in the digestive system is really compromised and food sources of good bacteria really in the fermented form are many times just not strong enough to replenish everything that was killed off. And that's when a good probiotic needs to be…

KARA: Great point. I totally agree. Fermented foods are wonderful for maintaining good bacteria in the gut, especially if someone's eating them at every meal. And that's really what they do in a lot of other countries, especially the Asian, in Asian countries. They'll incorporate kimchi, miso, or sauerkraut with every meal to support digestion.

MELANIE: Yeah, this is a good point.

KARA: It's not as common in the United States. So taking a high strength, good quality, probiotic can be more effective, especially in an acute situation like post injury or definitely post-surgery. What I did is I just doubled up on my regular daily probiotic after I had my surgery.


MELANIE: Yeah. And you want to take that about two hours away from an antibiotic on top of it. So just to summarize, if you're going into surgery, you want to prep the body so that for the best outcome and that's going to be definitely food forward in the form of real food. So foods that you can pluck; foods that you can hunt.

These are going to be your best options. So meat, vegetables, healthy fats. So a month prior to your surgery, you might want to add in the Nutridyn Surgery and Support Formula. And, continue that for a good two months after your surgery, in addition to maybe prepping some food in advance, some real food so that you're not exhausted, in pain after surgery. And then you have no real food on hand.

So, that's where we come into play is we help our clients get ready for surgery so they can optimize their outcome, give them ideas, menu ideas, maybe supplement protocol that can best help them to have the most positive outcome from a surgery.

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KARA: And our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.

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