Habits to Avoid for a Surgical Recovery Diet

December 26, 2012
In our past few blogs on nutrition and bone health, Dr. Doyle-Lucas has discussed the nutrients important to optimal surgical recovery.  In short, a diet consisting of adequate protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids should aid in a faster and successful recovery from injury and surgery. But there is another piece to this puzzle we have not discussed. What foods and behaviors can be detrimental to bone health and post-operative recovery?  Are there foods and habits that should be reduced or kicked altogether during periods of healing?  Definitely. Let’s take a look. First, it is evident that smoking will significantly hinder your recovery process. 
If you want to ensure a complete recovery, smoking is something you will need to give up.  Smoking elevates nicotine in the blood that causes blood vessels to constrict by 25%.  This reduces blood that would otherwise make it to the bone and aid in healing.  Smokers who break a leg, for instance, take 62% more time to heal than non-smokers.  In a study conducted at Northwestern University, of 54 patients treated for a wrist injury, 95% non-smokers healed completely as compared to only 68% of smokers.  Also, it took the smokers two months longer to heal than the non-smokers.  On a positive note, evidence shows that quitting smoking before surgery can improve post-operative wound healing and decrease recovery time. Click here for a website that we often refer patients to that has excellent information for patients that want to quit smoking. Other items to consider avoiding are colas.  Drinking sodas has been linked to osteoporosis, but the exact mechanism behind this outcome has yet to be elucidated.  For some individuals, soda consumption replaces milk consumption that in turn often reduces total calcium intake.  Dark colas also contain phosphoric acid.  It is thought that the phosphorus binds to calcium, and therefore decreases calcium retention.  Most colas also contain caffeine that may interfere with calcium absorption increasing urinary calcium excretion.   In the Framingham Osteoporosis study, women who consumed three or more colas per day had a 4% lower bone mineral density than those who consumed less.  These findings were observed to occur in both women who drank regular or diet colas. As the new year approaches we hope you will consider changing some of your habits to ensure the best outcome after your surgery and achieve optimal health. In our next blog, Dr. Doyle- Lucas will discuss why some of our favorites food around the holidays may not be the best for us after surgery, sugars and grains.
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