Rapid Surgery Recovery
Any surgery, even if it does not seem serious, involves a pre-op and post-op period. During pre-op the body should be optimized to recover quickly from a procedure. During post-op the body is fragile, and the patient should be mindful to promote their recovery with healing foods, herbs and activities.
Digestive distress or “irregularity” can really put a damper on any day. But, a bowel backup after surgery can be an even bigger bummer. Being bedridden AND bloated is no fun at all, but unfortunately, it’s a common post-op conundrum. This gut-rut typically lasts between 24 to 72 hours (and more for some) and involves symptoms like constipation, excessive gas, or a combination of both.
Why does surgery often lead to a stressed-out stomach? Well, the standard pre and post-op protocol tends to be a recipe for digestion disaster. Let’s take a look at these belly blunders:
- Fasting and liquid restriction. It makes sense that when food isn’t coming in to stimulate digestion, the GI system slows down; you’ve given it the day off from normal digestive duties. On top of that, our intestines rely on liquids to lubricate the gut and keep things moving. So, less fluid and no food before surgery means that digestion is going to look something like a major traffic jam during peak rush hour.
- Inactivity. Rest and recuperation are really your best bet when focusing on recovery. However, when you slow down, so does your digestion. Walking and even just standing play a role in pushing things along in your gut, so reduced activity tends to mean reduced regularity.
- Medication. The meds that make an appearance around surgery including general anesthesia and opioids/narcotics help with pain management. Unfortunately, one of the common side effects of these drugs is that they can wreak havoc on digestion. In fact, studies show that up to 40% of patients will experience opioid-induced constipation. That stat, plus the constipating effects of anesthesia, explains why many patients just can’t “go” after surgery.
But fear not, we’ve got some tummy-saving tips to help kick post-op constipation to the curb!
Preparing for Surgery with a Juice Cleanse
When planning to undergo surgery, it's a good time to reset your body's metabolism. A juice cleanse is a great way to ease the digestive process by replacing regular meals with delicious, organic, cold-pressed juices. You may also add The Good Sh!t Cleanse to your juices for boosted results.
Your pre-surgery diet should consist of:
- Fruits and vegetables. They are easily digestible, which will help maintain your weight in the postoperative period when your body will need to rest. Vegetables and fruits are also rich in vitamin C, which promotes the formation of collagen, which is essential for subsequent recovery, increases the amount of energy, and promotes healing.
How do I get my gut to work after surgery?
Drink plenty of liquids; eat lots of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink warm liquids to help your bowels move. Avoid gas-producing foods such as asparagus, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, prunes, pears and beans. Be sure to add the Good Sh!t cleanse to your liquids as well, post-surgery.
Some surgeons recommend taking probiotics after having surgery because it can reduce post-operative sepsis, accelerate wound healing, boost your immunity, lower the risk of infections, and even sometimes help prevent bouts of diarrhea caused by antibiotics.
A Body in Motion Puts a Bowel in Motion
Once your doctor has given you the go ahead, it’s time to get moving! Following a procedure, adding some approved activity will provide a host of benefits, including increased intestinal motility and stomach emptying. Any movement that gets the blood flowing post-op will wake-up a groggy GI tract so it can begin contracting.
Studies show that physical activity goes right along with good gut health, so it’s important to get active ASAP (under the guidance of your physician). A few great ways to get moving include short walks, periodic stand-up breaks every few hours (or every few Netflix episodes), and gentle stretches to keep your joints lubricated and your muscles pliable. If you’re bound to bedrest, put yourself on a schedule to lift and lower your unimpaired limbs every so often to keep blood flowing. And hey, maybe flapping your wings or fluttering your legs will give you a good belly laugh, which will certainly be good for your gut!
There are a few things to consider when choosing your post-op snacks that’ll really boost your chances of beating the belly block:
- Avoid highly processed foods like refined grains (think white starches) and high-fat dairy products, especially if either has caused you tummy-trouble in the past. The last thing you want is to add a sour stomach to your list of post-surgery symptoms. Not feeling hungry?
- Fuel up with fiber! Try to up the ante with fiber-rich foods like fruits, veggies, and whole grains, since this nifty nutrient is infamous for its ability to get your digestion system dancing.
- Stay on track with snacks. Consuming regular mini-meals will keep your system working, without overloading it.
- Drink up! Dehydration is a known contributor to constipation, so an adequate fluid intake can make a huge difference after surgery. Just be sure to avoid beverages that’ll dig you into a deeper dehydration ditch, such as caffeinated sodas, teas, coffee, and of course, alcohol.
After surgery, making smart diet decisions will help tackle the post-op constipation calamity and put you on the path for smooth sailing through recovery.