You’ve got periodontal surgery at our Hickory, North Carolina office coming up on your calendar and you’re prepared. The freezer is stocked with frozen yogurt, the fridge is filled with pudding and applesauce, the cupboard has boxes of gelatin dessert just waiting to be mixed and chilled.
Good for you! Eating a soft, smooth diet is the best way to treat delicate tissue after surgery. Now, let’s look at a few ways to make that diet not only soothing, but healing.
Proteins are essential for all of our vital bodily functions. The protein in our diet is broken down into amino acids, which then combine with other amino acids to create the new protein building blocks our cells need to replace and repair damaged tissue. These proteins provide structure for cells in the skin, bone, and blood vessels as they recover. When you are healing, your body requires more protein than usual to help the process along.
Of course, right after periodontal surgery, you won’t be eating your regular protein sources of meats, seafood, beans, and nuts. But dairy foods such as yogurt and milk products are also rich in protein—and delicious in milkshakes and smoothies. You can also add a protein supplement if you will be eating soft foods for a while. Just remember, no straws!
- Vitamin A
Vitamin A helps stimulate cell reproduction and the immune system, both important factors for quicker, safer healing. It also helps our bodies form and maintain bone tissue, mucous membranes, and soft tissue, all of which are involved in bone and gum recovery after surgery.
If you are wondering where to get more vitamin A, think green and orange. Spinach, kale, leaf lettuce and other leafy greens, mild peppers, carrots, cantaloupe, mango—all these foods keep you supplied with vitamin A. How to get those solid foods into your soft diet? Think smoothies. Adding some fresh ingredients to your blender will give you this important vitamin in an easy-to-drink form.
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C is vital for wound healing because it is essential in forming the protein collagen. Collagen provides both structure and support to our tissues, especially important as tissues heal.
We usually associate vitamin C with citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and limes. But if you’re avoiding acidic foods because they might irritate delicate tissue, you can also find plenty of vitamin C in green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale, or in fruits like strawberries, mangos, and papayas. Here’s where that blender comes in handy again!
Zinc has been found to improve healing by promoting membrane repair, blood clotting, and skin cell recovery, and by helping to boost immunity. Too little zinc in the diet has been associated with slower wound healing, especially in the skin—and because our bodies don’t store zinc, it should be part of everyone’s regular diet.
Foods high in zinc include red meat and seafood, but since steak is off the menu for a while, where can you find another good source of zinc? Dairy products, again! Let your milkshake do double duty.
Of course, there is no one magic diet that brings instant recovery. But if you follow the doctor and our team’s advice, eat foods designed to soothe rather than irritate your recuperating tissue, and take advantage of the nutrients that encourage healing, you will be doing all you can to make your recovery speedy and healthy. Good for you!