What is the best diet for recovery from surgery? Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center Nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, discusses the best foods and diet for cancer patients.
This video was originally filmed as part of a live video webchat, “The Best Foods and Diet for Cancer Treatment and Survivorship,” held on March 25, 2015. View the entire webchat here: https://youtu.be/w-92_tZr_B0
More information on nutrition during cancer treatment is available at: http://www.dana-farber.org/nutrition
Yeah, so for surgery, one of the big things is actually definitely talking to your surgeon about your supplements. They’ll more than likely want you to stop all your supplements about two weeks before surgery is scheduled, and that’s really important, because many supplements… We mentioned things like fish oil or garlic—there’s so many that actually can have a side effect of being a blood thinner, and that’s risky during surgery. So, stop your supplements, but talk to your doctor. You may not need to stop them all.
Preparing for surgery, we know that people who go into surgery better nourished have better outcomes—meaning shorter hospital stays, less risk for infection, faster recovery time, less chance of complications. So, you can really help yourself by doing a little bit of a nutritional boot camp before your surgery and really being on top of that healthy eating, having natural, unprocessed foods, getting enough protein, fruits and veggies, eating more often, being hydrated, really trying to limit those junk foods in your diet as a way of preparing yourself.
But specifically, protein is very important and so are certain immune-supporting minerals that are important for healing, and vitamins. So, Vitamin-C-rich foods, everybody things of the orange, but actually cauliflower this time of year is in season—very rich in Vitamin C. Also, looking at foods that are high in Zinc and Selenium, like in Brazil nuts, other kinds of nuts and seeds—those are things that you want to be sure to include in your pre- and post-surgical diet plan.
So, there are actually a lot of very specific restrictions and guidelines, that patients having different kinds of GI surgery would absolutely need to follow post-surgery. Some of those are a transition. You might start off with liquids and transition into softer, lower-fiber foods and gradually increase the fiber, perhaps just go back to a healthy, regular diet. Some people may have longer-term restrictions. So, there are very detailed specifics, depending on the type of surgery that you’ve had. Again though, that small, frequent meal, having protein with your foods—those kinds of things can be really helpful, but you definitely want to talk to a dietician post-op to find out based on your particular surgery… Do you have to watch out for fat content? Fiber content? Things like that.