Eating may be the furthest thing from your mind after having your appendix removed, especially if you've been experiencing abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea prior to surgery. An appendectomy is usually performed because your appendix has become infected or burst open. But what you eat after surgery is important to promote healing and prevent infection. Consult your doctor about your individual diet needs.
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Start With Foods Easy to Digest
After just having abdominal surgery, the best foods to eat are those that are easy to digest, according to the University of Wisconsin Hospital. This includes foods such as cream of wheat, milk, yogurt and cream soups. This type of diet is referred to as a full liquid diet and is considered a transitional diet because you eat it for a while before adding in other foods. While this diet does provide some protein and calcium, it's low in other essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin A and thiamine and should only be consumed for a short period of time, following your doctor's recommendations.
Foods From All the Groups
If you're not experiencing any abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea after a short time on a transitional, you should be able to resume your usual diet in a few days. But to promote healing after having your appendix removed, it's important to eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups. Your body needs a supply of these nutrients to help produce new cells that are important in healing the surgical site and preventing any further complications. To ensure you get a full supply of nutrients, add whole grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy foods and lean sources of protein such as poultry, seafood, tofu and beans to your daily diet.
Foods for Healing
Eating a balanced diet ensures that your body gets adequate amounts of protein, carbs and fat. Each of these nutrients plays a role in healing after surgery. Protein supports formation of collagen, which is an important part of connective tissue that fills in the incision site. Carbs provide the energy to create new tissue and blood vessels. Healthy carb choices to eat after an appendectomy include beans, whole-wheat bread, brown rice and fruits or vegetables. Fat is necessary for membranes for new cells and can also help reduce inflammation. Choose heart-healthy sources of fat, such as olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados.
Foods for Immune Health
Eating the right foods ensures your body gets the vitamins and minerals it needs to keep your immune system healthy and strong to prevent or fight off infection. Vitamin A protects you from infection by helping maintain the integrity of your digestive and respiratory systems, vitamin C is necessary for the production of antibodies and the antioxidant properties in vitamin E protect your cells from damage by free radicals, which can damage cellular membranes and DNA, and raise your risk of illness. Leafy greens and red peppers help you meet both your vitamin A and C needs, while almonds and spinach are rich in vitamin E. Zinc also helps your body fight off infection because it is necessary for the formation of white blood cells that help make antibodies and perform other immune functions. It also helps maintain skin integrity. Seafood, milk, whole grains, beans and nuts are all good sources of zinc.
- MedlinePlus: Appendectomy
- Hospital for Special Surgery: Nutrition for Healing
- University of Wisconsin Hospital: Surgery: Appendectomy
- Jackson-Siegelbaum Gastroenterology: Full Liquid Diet
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What's on Your Plate?
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Protect Your Health With Immune-Boosting Nutrition
- British Journal of Nursing: The Importance of Patients' Nutritional Status in Wound Healing
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc