NUTRITION BEFORE AND AFTER SPINAL OPERATIONS
Dietician Banu Suzen
Preoperative body weight affects the postoperative healing process. Being over the ideal weight increases the weight on the spine, prolongs the postoperative recovery period, increases the risk of complications, and causes restriction of movement. A 5 percent weight loss prior to surgery reduces the risks. If you are going to have a planned surgery, you need to balance your caloric intake to get rid of some portion of your excess weight. By considering the restriction of movement, you can prepare for surgery with a healthy weight loss program.
Increasing food intake to recover quickly from surgery causes a positive change in the energy balance, and consequently results in weight gain. Surgical interventions are a predictable controlled type of trauma. The extent of the surgical intervention varies depending on the surgical location as well as energy and protein requirements. After spine surgery, partial movement restriction is experienced. However, the increase in the amount of food intake leads to weight gain. As in the preoperative period, weight gain or being overweight means a greater weight on the spine after surgery.
Planning your diet and preventing excessive weight gain immediately after surgery accelerates the healing process. The first step in this regard is to calculate and adjust the caloric and nutritional requirements of the patient. The partial restriction of movement reduces the amount of your basal energy requirement. If you have no chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension, a nutritional program involving caloric adjustment based on your requirements will make your life easier after surgery. A healthy nutritional plan is made with a caloric adjustment in accordance with the carbohydrate, protein, fat, mineral and vitamin requirements. Getting help from a dietitian in this regard will help you experience a healthy recovery period.
If you cannot receive dietetic consultation from a dietitian, the important points you should take into consideration are as follows::
- You should stay away from foods and beverages with high energy density.
- You should choose healthy carbohydrates. Eliminating carbohydrates completely from the diet causes the body to take the required energy from other sources, and also reduces the dietary fiber intake. The sources of healthy carbohydrates are derived from unrefined cereals, vegetables, fruits, dried legumes.
- You should stay away from sugary products. Foods and beverages that contain natural sugar, such as honey, syrup, fruit juice and fruit juice concentrate, also contain unnatural sugars added by the food industry to foods and beverages. High amount of sugar consumption leads to weight gain. Therefore, your caloric intake from sugar consumption should be less than 10% of your total caloric intake. This means approximately 50 grams of sugar or 12 teaspoons of sugar per day. However, according to the recommendation intended for obtaining more health advantages, this rate should be lower than 5%.
- Beef broth soups, chicken broth soups, and bone broth soups are beneficial in terms of their nutritional contents, but their excess consumption causes weight gain since their caloric content are mainly from fat. If you want to consume such foods, make sure they are fat-free and do not consume more than 2 bowls of soup per day.
- Proteins are the most important building blocks of our body and are an important part of healthy nutrition. However, they have many different sources and their effects in the body are different from one another. Eating foods with high-protein content such as beef broth soups, chicken broth soups, and bone broth soups, meat (not processed meat products), chicken, fish,eggs etc. is more effective for tissue regeneration.
- Care should be taken to ensure that the caloric intake from fat consumption does not exceed 30% of the total caloric intake. It would be healthier to reduce saturated fat (red meat, butter, coconut oil, cream, cheese, tail fat) consumption and mainly consume unsaturated fat (fish, avocado, nut oil and sunflower oil, canola oil and olive oil). On the other hand, industrial trans fats (processed foods, fast food, pastry products, foods fried in oil, etc.) should be avoided as much as possible.
- Intestinal motility may decrease after surgery. To avoid this, you should consume 4-5 servings of vegetables and fruits, foods with whole grain cereals, and dried legumes. Consume all kinds of fruits and vegetables in season, by being attentive to colors and variety. You should also keep in mind the fact that potato, sweet potato and other starchy root plants are not classified as vegetables and fruits.
- You should take adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D after the surgery. Important sources of calcium: Milk and dairy products that protect bone health have also some other important benefits, such as protecting from chronic diseases and supporting weight control. 2 cups of milk and yogurt consumption per day is recommended. Many important studies conducted in the past showed that like calcium, vitamin D has favorable effects on many things such as bone health, chronic diseases and immune system functions. Therefore, adequate intake of these nutrients is of great importance.
- Adequate amount of water should be consumed Sugary drinks, carbonated drinks, ready-to-drink fruit juices, tea and coffee cannot be alternatives to water. 1.5 to 2 liters (8-10 glasses of water) of water per day should be consumed.
- In line with the advices of your physician, you should arrange your physical activity after surgery.