If you missed Part 1 to this blog series, click here to read all about how I prepared my body for surgery. Recently I had emergency surgery to remove all four of my wisdom teeth. The surgery I had required me to have general anaesthetic which renders you unconscious, so you’re relaxed and unable to feel pain. It also shuts down your ‘body systems’ for hours, so it takes a while for those systems to return to normal. Fortunately for me, I’m in the right profession so I know exactly what I needed to do in order to begin nourishing my body and healing my gut again after the damage caused from the stress and drugs my body had received.
As I was leaving the hospital, the nurse handed me a bag full of a concoction of pain killers, antibiotics and different medications. I personally opted not to take any of them because of the additional damage it would have caused to my already compromised gut flora. Those types of drugs would have stripped my body of its natural ability to fight infection and ward off illness. Yes, pharmaceuticals can have their place, but I believe they shouldn’t be taken unless you absolutely have to. Take a look at this article by Chris Kresser, explaining how even just one round of antibiotics can be lethal to our flora and may permanently alter it.
Due to the amount of stress and drugs my body endured during surgery, I made sure I was prepared to fight for a speedy recovery using real food as my medicine. I truly believe that you are designed to heal yourself in most cases. The following information is how I managed to heal and nourish my own body quickly after surgery and avoid infection.
This is what my diet looked like to help me to recover quickly
Since I know that digestion is the corner stone of health and immunity, it’s extremely important that I consumed food that was easy to digest, incredibly nourishing and rich in fibre, probiotics and enzymes.
My usual diet is free from all inflammatory foods such as gluten, wheat, dairy (except grass-fed butter/ghee), eggs (as I cannot tolerate them), sugar, vegetable oils and grains. It sounds like I don’t eat much, but in fact it’s the opposite. My everyday diet consists of real, whole, fresh foods from nature, quality fats, organic meats, organ meats, seafood and lots of naturally probiotic rich foods.
As I knew I wouldn’t be able to chew for at least 7-10 days, I prepared lots of nourishing, pureed foods, including:
- Bone Broth: The gelatin contained in bone broth helps to heal, seal and soothe the gut lining and in doing so, can be very helpful for reducing intestinal inflammation, reversing leaky gut and other digestive problems. It also aids with sleep, boosts immunity and nutrient absorption, aids detoxification, supports adrenal health as well as skin, nails, hair and teeth health. I used bone broth as the base of all my soups and purees, and would drink a cup of warm broth with turmeric, lemon juice and pepper mixed into it each morning.
- Soups and Purees: When you puree food, this takes an enormous amount of stress off your pancreas and other digestive organs because the food is partially pre-digested. It is absorbed and assimilated very easily, with minimal symptoms of incomplete or poor digestion such as bloating, gas and food remaining in the digestive tract for long periods of time. The nutrients from the food are much more readily available when food is pureed. My go-to soup/puree was this ‘Cauliflower & Herb Detox Soup’. I added in a lot more grass-fed butter because it’s a fantastic source of minerals, vitamins, choline, butyric acid, healthy fatty acids and has so many health promoting properties which you can read more about here and here.
- Smoothies: I made my ‘Keto Green Detox Smoothy’ quite a lot because it’s loaded with greens, live enzymes, probiotics, vitamins, minerals and other high quality healing fats. I also froze a lot of my smoothies into ice-blocks so it would help to soothe my sore gums.
- Fermented Juices: I created lots of different fermented drink concoctions. One of them was my ‘Pineapple, Turmeric & Ginger Juice’ which was a beautiful way to combat inflammation, boost immunity and get my daily dose of probiotics and enzymes. Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain which is associated with the prevention of infection and injury, aids in speeding up wound healing and supports digestion. Another fermented juice I created was my ‘Beetroot Liver Tonic’. It’s very easy for our livers to get overburdened, so I had this concoction daily because of its strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which has a great effect on the various detoxification pathways of our body, especially the liver.
Drinking fermented smoothies and juices will ensure you’re getting all the good stuff from fruit and vegetables while allowing your digestive tract to take a rest.
- Liver Pate: After my surgery, for a few days I was completely exhausted. I had no energy whatsoever and I was constantly on the verge of feeling like I was going to faint. Sometimes you just need a real food nutrient boost, especially when faced with certain health challenges. Liver is a great food to add to your diet if you are anaemic, low on energy or fatigued. In order for me to regain my energy levels back, I had liver pate twice a day for 10 days in a row because that’s what my body needed. Liver plays a key role in rebuilding nutritional deficiencies; it contains anti-fatigue factors and all the B Vitamins, particularly rich in B12 and iron. I knew when my body no longer needed that amount of liver because my cravings for it stopped and I even struggled to eat even just 1 tablespoon of pate. It’s amazing how our bodies send us signals and signs!
- Fermented Foods: I could only eat my fermented smoothies/juices/tonics and the Kultured Wellness Coconut Yoghurt & Kefir. I made sure I had these every few hours throughout the day to ensure I was rinsing my mouth with loads of beneficial bacteria. These types of homemade fermented foods are not only teeming with beneficial pre and probiotics that aid in repopulating the good bacteria in our guts and reducing the harmful bacteria that can cause indigestion; they also decrease inflammation, aid hormone balance and digestion, increase immunity, fight bacterial infections, viruses and prevent them from spreading, aid in detoxification and increase the absorption of nutrients and minerals. I was even using the Kultured Wellness Coconut Yoghurt as a face moisturiser to reduce the swelling of my jaw/ face and to improve and nourish my skins microbiome. It honestly worked wonders!
Here is a look at some of the supplements I took to speed up my healing and recovery after surgery and to act as natural pain relief.
- CBD Oil: CBD is the non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant and is sold legally (for now) because it does not produce the ‘high’ that THC does. CBD Hemp oil is regarded as one of the richest concentrations of cannabidol (CBD) on the market. It provides therapeutic benefits such as; reducing nausea and vomiting, combats inflammation, anxiety, depression, acts as pain relief and aids with sleep. As I wasn’t taking pharmaceutical pain killers, I chose to take this instead which really helped with my sleep when the pain was almost unbearable.
- Turmeric: Turmeric has been playing a big role in my life of late because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s even argued to be the most powerful herb on the planet. In fact, a number of studies have even reported that utilising this herb is more beneficial than anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical medications. Turmeric aids with liver detoxification, contains antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties, is a natural pain reliever, is rich in antioxidants and more. As well as adding turmeric to my fermented juices, soups, purees and broth, I wanted to make sure my doses were quite high to ensure a speedy recovery, so I also took a turmeric and ginger supplement.
Apple Cider Vinegar: ACV can help to disinfect and sterilise because it contains antibiotic and antiseptic properties. Most germs can’t survive in the acidic environment that the vinegar creates. Because I was trying to prevent my teeth getting infected, I would swish some around in my mouth every few hours.
Coconut oil: There are many benefits of coconut oil. It has naturally occurring anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-microbial properties and is packed with antioxidants. You can use it to boost your immune system and blood sugar levels, as well as improving your brain function.
Herbs and spices: I tried to include a variety of herbs and spices in my diet; thyme, cinnamon, basil, rosemary, turmeric, cayenne pepper, chili, cloves, anise, garlic, ginger, mustard seed and fennel. If you have a high temperature and feel a cold coming on, fenugreek tea will help to break the fever and cause sweating. Garlic is a superb antiseptic and helps to protect against infections. Sage, thyme and rosemary tea infusions can be used as a gargle for sore throats due to its antiseptic properties.
Oregano oil: is considered antimicrobial, antibacterial, anti-parasitic, antiviral and antifungal. It can be used internally and externally in the treatment of wounds, respiratory problems, digestive upset, and even the common cold. The oil also helps to heal and strengthen the immune system.
My natural detox remedies
- Fats: This one may seem strange; however I made sure I included lots of good quality fats in my meals to ensure stable blood sugar levels and satiation. They are essential for healthy detoxification processes. I included coconut oil, avocado, animal fats, grass-fed butter/ghee and inca inchi oil.
- Epsom salt baths: encourages a gentle sweat to release toxins through the skin. I also went to The Float Space for float therapy which aids detoxification, stress-relief, enhances healing, rejuvenation and recovery, manages pain, boosts immunity and magnesium absorption.
- Activated Coconut Charcoal: is a highly absorbent material with millions of tiny pores that can capture, bind, and remove up to 100 times the charcoal’s own weight in toxins. I took this to help to alleviate some of the negative side effects from the drugs and to mop up all the toxins.
- Essential oils: I also diffused lots of different essential oils. Eucalyptus is powerful; it offers antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral properties. It’s often used as a decongestant for fever, flu, coughs, sinus and disinfecting rooms. Lavender is favoured for its antiviral, antiseptic and antifungal properties. Lemon has astringent and antiseptic properties; it’s great for clearing the head, energising an aching body and boosting circulation. Tea-tree is a household all-rounder as it holds antiseptic, antifungal, antibiotic and antiviral properties. You can read a comprehensive guide to essential oils here.
- Rest: this might go without saying, but rest is perhaps the single most important part of recovery.
- Being around loved ones: It’s known that having loved ones present and actively encouraging recovery can make a profound difference to your health and healing.
I will attest to the fact that a diet of nourishing, wholefoods should be the priority when considering healing after surgery. When we rest up, de-stress and feed the gut good, clean, healthy fuel it is of course more likely to function better and heal faster. For anyone who may be seeking a little bit of support following surgery, I suggest starting with some of the above information, monitoring your progress and moving further if and when you are advised by your health care professional.