I'm all for healing slow and steady, using what nature has so generously given us. But sometimes, surgery is the only answer.
Here are some questions I'm frequently asked about the best ways to heal and protect the body after a surgical procedure.
Dr. Connealy, I'm about to have surgery. Any tips to help me recover?
First, keep your mental game positive. It can make a world of difference in healing.
If you haven't done so already, get rid of the refined carbs and added sugars that can interfere with your immune system's antibacterial powers when you need them most.
And up your intake of fresh, organic, fruits and veggies. They're loaded with the vitamins and minerals your body needs to heal.
Since you may be laid up for a little while, you might want to stock up on healthy foods before your surgery. Have only healthful goodies waiting for you when you get home. That way, eating for health will be so much easier.
What about my meds and supplements? Should I change anything?
Some supplements can act as blood thinners—vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids among them. So, talk to your doctor about your supplement regimen prior to your procedure to ensure nothing stands in the way of a healthy, speedy recovery.
What about exercise? My friends and I are big walkers.
Along with a healthy diet, exercise is about the most important health practice we've got. It's essential that you try to become mobile as soon as you're able—not least because it will reduce your risk of clots.
But don't push yourself too hard. Going 100 percent back to your usual routine holds some risks, greater or lesser, deepening on how invasive your procedure was.
Even if you've had "minor" surgery, back off of high-impact exercises like running or other types of cardio. Instead, go at first for low-impact exercises—biking, swimming, and tai chi, yoga, easy walking.
Always consult your doctor about exercising to ensure safety. Depending on the procedure, there might be internal as well as external sutures. You might not feel them, but they can be fragile—not to be pushed until they've finished helping you heal. Your doctor and surgeon will have a good estimate of how long you'll need to be cautious.
Someone told me that laughing is good for healing. Is that true?
Yes, that is true. You can literally laugh stress hormones right out of your system, and laugh feel-good, pain-easing endorphins into it. There's a ton of research showing that laughter also boosts your immune system. So stock up on funny books, magazines, and videos, or find comedy online. Visit with your funny friends. Play charades. Make faces together.
Clear this "laughter therapy" with your doctor, to make sure a belly laugh won't stress any of those internal sutures I mentioned. You might be advised just to giggle at first.
Congratulations on taking this important step. Here's to your health.