Nutritional Support After Surgery

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After your surgery adequate nutrition is necessary to improve the healing process. Here at the Institute of Spinal Disorders we take this very seriously and recommend that you follow a nutritional program that promotes the healing process after a spinal fusion.

Dr. Myles Nutrition at Institute of Spinal Disorders

You may not know that after a spinal fusion the body’s metabolic demands increase in order to provide adequate energy for healing. Therefore, you will need to supply your body with the proper nutrition to promote the necessary healing. Your metabolic rate will increase in order to provide your body fuel needed to proceed with the proper healing process. This increased metabolic rate means that your body will burn more calories. Calories supplied are fuel that your body uses during the healing process. Caloric demand can double or triple after surgery. In order to supply the body with sufficient calories we must focus on the diet. Immediately after the surgery we would like to increase the caloric intake and spread these calories throughout the day. We recommend that you eat 5-6 meals a day. Be sure to include: lean protein, unprocessed foods, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, foods and fats that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Avoid any processed and/or fast food, because these foods contain fewer necessary nutrients.

Your diet should be high in protein, calcium and Vitamin D3. These nutrients are used for tissue and bone healing after surgery. In order to build bone, protein is laid down first and then calcium is then incorporated into the protein to form bone. Vitamin D is an important in the regulation of bone formation. In order to ensure your body obtains adequate protein, calcium and Vitamin D post-operatively we focus on proper dietary intake and recommend specific supplementation for the first three months after surgery.

We recommend protein intake to be increased to 1.5 grams per kilogram. In order to determine how many kilograms of protein your body needs you must take your weight then divided by 2.2 which will give you your weight in kilograms. Then multiply your weight in kilograms by 1.5. The final number will be the milligrams necessary per day for example, a 150 pound person divides his/her weight by 2.2 which equals 68.1. A 68.1 kg is now multiplied by 1.5 g of protein which equals 102 g of protein that should be consumed per day. Sources rich in protein include lean unprocessed beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs, yogurt, beans, Cheese, and tofu. You should avoid highly processed foods which contain high amounts of salt, fat, and calories.

In order to obtain the appropriate amount of protein we recommend 5-6 small protein rich meals per day along with some form of protein supplementation. We generally recommend a protein shake twice a day to supplement the small protein rich meals.

Calcium is important for healthy bones and the development of a solid fusion after surgery. Your body takes about 2-3 months to completely heal a solid fusion after surgery. During this time of healing it is important to supply your body with adequate calcium to promote proper healing. It is important to provide your body with the appropriate type of Calcium. Some calciums on the market are not absorbed very well by the digestive tract. The type of calciums that are well absorbed by the digestive tract are calcium citrate and calcium aspartate. These calciums are absorbed easily through the digestive tract and quickly converted to usable calcium in the blood stream. We recommend calcium by Metagenics, which can be purchased at our office or from the following website: Metagenics or here from Wellevate. This Metagenics calcium is easily absorbed and It provides additional minerals which assist with bone healing include phosphorus and magnesium, as well as trace minerals including zinc and manganese. After your surgery we recommend 1500 mg of calcium daily taken in 2 divided doses for a total of 3 months. One dose is to be taken in the morning and the second dose to be taken in the evening. Once the 3 months are over we recommend that women over 40 continue daily doses of calcium but decrease their daily dose To 1200 mg.

Vitamin D is an antioxidant that is important in the regulation of blood calcium level and bone metabolism. Vitamin D is necessary for adequate bone formation and decreases the development of osteoporosis. It has been found to decrease the occurrence of 25 different cancers. In our practice we have found that 85% of our patients who are tested are significantly deficient in Vitamin D levels. Low Vitamin D levels after surgery can slow or prevent proper development of bone. Post-operatively maintenance of normal Vitamin D levels is necessary for optimal bone formation and healing. Because of importance of Vitamin D in regards to proper healing we test all patients vitamin D levels before surgery and recommend supplementation with 5,000 international units Of Vitamin D daily. If you are found to be severely Vitamin D deficient, after testing, and we will increase your supplementation of Vitamin D accordingly for 3 months, then recheck your levels, and adjust Vitamin D dosing as needed.

Additional information on Dietary Planning and the importance of protein can be found by clicking here.