Can Your Diet Improve Recovery From Total Joint Replacement Surgery?

Does Your Body Have The Right Tools?

Nearly a million Americans undergo total joint replacement surgery per year. Hip, knee, and other joint replacements encompass most of the procedures, making joint replacement one of the most highly requested elective surgeries in the country. As joint replacements increase due to rising obesity rates in patients under 65, many doctors recommend patients achieve a BMI of 30 or less before undergoing joint replacement surgery. A nutrient-rich diet is vital to provide the body with the necessary building block of recovery during the post-operative process. By focusing on a diet centered on protein, fiber, and vitamins D and C, patients raise the likelihood of a seamless recovery while lowering overall BMI.

Protein is vital

Making up 50% of bone volume, protein is a foundational ingredient in a restorative post-operative diet. Consuming a protein-rich diet after orthopedic surgery has been shown to reduce the possibility of post-operative infections while increasing bone mass. In addition to protein sources like meat and eggs, some physicians recommend consuming vegetable proteins such as quinoa, chia seeds, and beans for a varied blend of amino acids. 1g protein per 2lbs of overall body weight is a good calculation for most people.

Avoiding digestive issues

Since many post-operative pain medications can lead to digestive issues, increasing levels of fiber in the diet is key to achieving a comfortable recovery. Many doctors recommend consuming whole grain bread, rice, and cereal and fiber-packed fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots. Adding fiber-rich foods to a patient’s diet after surgery, along with plenty of water or fruit juice, helps ease any potential discomfort and speed up recovery.

The power of vitamins

Beyond the boost to the immune system, vitamin C is an essential factor in forming cartilage and bone along with strengthening tendons, ligaments, and skin. Adding 75-90mg of vitamin C to a post-operative diet is as simple as adding varied fruits such as strawberries and papayas to each meal. Some healthcare professionals suggest consuming foods high in vitamin D, which amplifies bone density and aids muscle and tissue regeneration. Sun is the most direct source of vitamin D, but the body’s ability to turn energy into vitamin D depends on the time of year and the angle of rays. Patients can achieve higher levels of vitamin D year-round by eating foods like fatty fish, salmon, tuna, eggs, and cheese.

Speeding up your recovery

With nearly a million Americans undergoing joint replacement surgery per year, the procedure is one of the country’s most popular and effective elective surgeries. Doctors recommend increasing protein, fiber, and vitamin D and C levels in the post-operative diet to empower a smooth recovery. With higher levels of key nutrients, the body can more easily replace the minerals lost in surgery while strengthening the new joint.


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