Nutrition’s Impact on Healing Wounds
The food we eat provides the nutritional tools you need to maintain and grow a healthy body. No matter how healthy you are, your needs will dramatically change because you have chosen to undergo surgery. The increased needs require that you consider nutrition as an important part of your after surgery instructions.
When you sustain a major stress such as a surgery, everyone requires additional protein to provide extra building blocks to heal and recover from this stress. Surgery of any sort is a major stress upon your body. It is not uncommon for your protein needs to increase 11/2 – 2 times your normal needs. Without this additional protein, your body struggles to recover. Without this additional protein, you are at risk of wound related breakdown, healing delays, and infections.
Patients who have chosen to undergo gastric bypass, or any type of gastric reconstructive procedures, can benefit tremendously through the weight loss that the surgical procedure promotes. Unfortunately, the nature of gastric reconstructive surgeries is to make your stomach smaller, therefore decreasing the amount of food intake you can have at one setting. This can make it difficult to increase your protein intake mainly because of the small size of your stomach. Without constant awareness of your nutritional intake, you can actually slow the healing process. This can increase your risk of complications post-operatively. Patients that have had a gastric bypass in the past, need to maintain a proper diet and nutritional supplement intake both before and after surgery.
To meet the increased need of nutritional intake both before and after surgery, small frequent meals that are high in protein are beneficial. The average person needs 0.4g of protein per lb of body weight daily. Gastric Bypass patients need an average of 1-1.5g per lb of body weight of protein daily. Breaking meals down into 5-6 small high protein meals throughout the day can be helpful in the healing process. Supplementing between meals with high protein snacks is also important. The goal is to make the majority of your nutritional intake high in protein, low in fat, and moderate in carbohydrates (sugars).
Foods such as lean meat, chicken, fish, legumes, eggs, and beans are excellent sources of protein.
Protein powders, drinks, and bars can be purchased at any grocery store, drug store, or health food store.
Carbohydrates turn into sugar as they are broken down. It is best to use complex carbohydrates (carbohydrates that are more difficult to digest) due to the fact that they provide a longer lasting source of energy. Complex carbohydrates consist of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Sugary foods like white rice, white potatoes, and white bread tend to provide a quick energy boost, that quickly decreases leaving you weak and hungry.
Fat intake tends to be more than most of us need anyway. Fatty foods tend to make you feel full longer. This can decrease your appetite, causing a decrease in your nutritional intake. Hunger encourages your protein intake. During your post-operative period, try to decrease the amount of fat in your diet, so your appetite will increase and you will increase your protein intake.
At meal time, eat low fat meat (chicken, turkey, fish, or very lean (97%) beef), beans (red beans, pinto beans, black beans, etc), and green vegetables. Whole-grain rice, sweet potatoes, and whole grain breads are preferred and should be used sparingly.
Eat your meat first, followed by your vegetables, and then bread, potatoes, and whole grain foods last. (This allows you to eat your high protein foods first, therefore increasing protein intake.)