Spices After Surgery

Did you know that there are relatively simple spices and fruits that you can add to waters, teas and smoothies that have anti-inflammatory properties, remove toxins and alleviate symptoms of pain?  And there is a fairly good chance, these items are already in your kitchen. They are turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper, lemons and limes.

 

I will go over the properties of each of these and how it works.  Then I will provide you with some exciting and delicious ways to incorporate these items into your post-surgical routine to enhance your recovery.

 

But you don’t need to have surgery for these spices and fruits to impact your life, start using them now to feel the maximize benefit of what they have to offer.

 

Ginger

 

Ginger is a superfood that you may have missed getting into your diet, but I’m going to help you chance this.  Ginger can easily be added to so many foods and drinks that there is no way you can’t use this food everyday.

 

First, let me explain why it’s so important to add ginger to your diet now and definitely after your surgery.  You see ginger is one of the healthiest spices on earth because it’s loaded with nutrients and antioxidants.

 

You are properly familiar with gingers use to help digestion and reduce nausea.  Interestingly ginger ale is the most requested drink after surgery in the hospital.  We stock pile the stuff. Even people who never drink ginger ale request it. It’s almost instinctual that people seek out ginger after surgery.   It’s great to relieve nausea and vomiting after surgery as well as after chemotherapy.

 

Their instincts are correct.  Ginger is thought to aid in speeding up the emptying of the stomach, which can reduce indigestion. Gingerol is the main ingredient in ginger and it has been well studied in academics and over centuries of use.  

 

Gingerol also inhibits growth of many different types of bacteria so it’s very good at reducing your risk of infection.  Surgical site infections are a dreaded complication of surgery that can occur in 30 days up to 1 year after in patients with implants.

 

Ginger may also reduce muscle pain and soreness, which is important after surgery.  No matter where your surgery was, it is likely the surgeon had to cut through some muscle tissue.  With ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties, muscle soreness and pain may be reduced.

 

Finding ways to incorporate ginger into your diet is easy, and I’ll show you with recipes below.

 

Cayenne pepper

 

Cayenne pepper is more than just a spice to add life your meals.  In fact cayenne pepper can stimulate blood circulation and reduce acidity in the body.  Cayenne pepper has tons of antioxidant properties and also contain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, B6, E, potassium and manganese.

 

Just a teaspoon a day can help relieve indigestion, upset stomach, slow intestinal gas, improve circulation, lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease.

 

Cayenne pepper stimulates enzyme productions and gastric juices.  This helps metabolize food and toxins.

 

There is also evidence that cayenne pepper can relieve migraine headache pain, joint and nerve pain and pain after surgery!  Scientists don’t know exactly how the spice works, but they think cayenne pepper reduces the amount of substance P, which is a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain.

 

Cayenne pepper also has anti-inflammatory properties that ease upset stomachs, easing ulcers and soothe bloating.  Interestingly, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper “capsaicin” inhibits acid secretion stimulates mucus secretion and aids in the healing of ulcers.  Cayenne pepper doesn’t cause ulcer formation, it actually helps heal ulcers. So don’t be afraid to use this spicy spice!

 

And I have an easy way to get a healthy dose of cayenne pepper into your diet every day.

 

Turmeric

 

There are several very high quality studies that espouse the major benefits has on the body. Turmeric may be one of the most effective nutritional supplements in existence. That is quite a claim for a spice you may not have ever used before.  So let me convince of how great it is and then I’ll show you a couple ways to use it.

 

First, one of the most important things to know about turmeric is the main active ingredient is curcumin, which has extremely powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.  

 

The second most important thing to know is that curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream without a facilitator.  So if you want the benefits of curcumin, you must take it with black pepper. Black pepper has piperine, which is a natural substance that increases absorption of curcumin by 2000%.

 

Curcumin is being increasingly studied and taken very seriously by the medical community for its ability to reduce pain after surgery.  A study* in the Anesthesiology Analogs (2014) concluded: “Our studies suggest that curcumin treatment is effective in alleviating incision-induced inflammation, nociceptive sensitization, spontaneous pain and functional gait abnormalities.”  Their final comment on curcumin: “These preclinical findings demonstrate curcumin’s potential as a preventative strategy in postoperative pain treatment.” This is a really strong statement coming from the medical community!

 

More and more studies are confirming what Indians have known for a really long time, that turmeric has medicinal properties.

 

As a natural anti-inflammatory agent, turmeric helps to combat heart disease, cancer, degenerative conditions, prevent strokes and increase the immune system.  The anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin are so strong, that they are even compared head to head with anti-inflammatory medications that are prescribed by physicians.

 

Because of this anti-inflammatory property, arthritis patients respond very well to curcumin supplementation and in several studies has been found to be even more effective than drugs currently on the market.

 

Finally, curcumin has shown some anti-depressive properties as well.  Depression is linked to altered chemicals in the brain. Curcumin has shown some potential to restore chemical balance in the brain and boost levels of serotonin and dopamine (2 neurotransmitters in the brain thought to play significant roles in depression when depleted).

 

*Sahbaie, P., Sun Y., Liang, D. & Clark, J. (2014).  Curcumin treatment attenuates pain and enhances functional recovery after incision.  Anesth Analg, 118(6), 1336-44.

 

Lemons

 

The health benefits of lemons are long.  Lemons are well known to strengthen your immune system, cleanse your stomach and is considered a blood purifier.  Lemons are associated with treating kidney stones, lowering high blood pressure, alleviating constipation, lowering body temperature and reducing anxiety.  The health benefits of lemons are supported by the American Urological Association who have shown that lemon juice can eliminate the occurrence of kidney stones as well as help get rid of gallstones.  Lemons also have anti-inflammatory properties that help protect against arthritis.

 

The healing properties of lemons comes from the amazing vitamins and minerals that is contains such as Vitamin C, B6, A, E, folate, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium and even protein.

 

You can use lemons to alleviate indigestion and constipation.  Just a few drops of lemons will make you feel better. A really great feature of lemons is its ability to provide a calming sensation to the mind and body.  Lemons are commonly used to reduce stress and depression.

 

Eating or drinking a half a lemon a day is an excellent way to get the maximum health benefits from this fruit.

 

Limes

 

Limes are amazing.  They are well known to have anti-inflammatory properties and have been linked with weight loss, increasing digestive aid, relief from constipation and urinary disorders and treatment of peptic ulcers and gout.  Limes have been used in skin care lines and in eye care.

 

The lime has been used extensively for culinary purposes as well as for cosmetic and health products.  And the great thing about limes is that they are actually refreshing to add to any drink. Adding lime juice can help flush out toxins from your body and boost immunity.

 

The natural acidity in lime stimulates the digestive system, which in turn facilitates relief from constipation.  The acid also washes and cleanses the intestinal tract, kind of in the same line as it does for washing and cleaning floors.  You know lemons and limes are used in cleaners, and it’s not for their pretty smell --> it’s for their cleansing properties.

 

Limes are antioxidants, but they are also well known for burning fat.  Consuming 2 glasses of warm water with lime juice a day is enough to produce noticeable results.

 

If you have diabetes or heart disease, limes are considered a superfood by the American Diabetes Association.  The high levels of soluble fiber help regulate the body’s absorption into the blood stream and eliminate bad cholesterol.  The anti-inflammatory properties of limes help repair blood vessels, which in turn can reduce heart disease, heart attacks and stroke.

 

Limes also have a high potassium content, which makes them extremely useful in disinfecting toxic substances in the kidney and bladder.  These disinfectant properties of the lime can treat urinary tract infections.

 

And did you know that limes are a great treatment for fevers?  The high levels of vitamin C naturally lowers the temperature of the body.

 

Recipes

 

Whewww.. That’s a lot about spices and fruits, but it’s not even touching the surface of all the health and cosmetic benefits of limes or lemons or any of the spices I’ve talked about so far.  It can be overwhelming. And how can you possibly incorporate all of these items into your life everyday?

 

Well the point isn’t to make sure you use each and every one every day, but there are some simple changes that you can incorporate into your diet that will have noticeable benefits.

 

Especially after surgery, you want to be really cognizant about what you are drinking, because you might not “feel” like drinking much.  So we want to be sure that when you do get fluids in, we have optimized what we can.

 

Here are some simple recipes to get you started.

 

Lemon or Lime Water

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Lemon or lime water is so good for you. After surgery, you need to stay hydrated, so infuse your water with lemon or lime juice. You will get all the health benefits of lemons and limes and you will stay hydrated.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Total time: 2 minutes

Servings: 1

 

Ingredients:

  1. 8oz of water

  2. Fresh juice of ½ lemon or ½ lime

  3. Add additional ingredients (optional)

 

Directions:

Juice ½ lemon or lime into 1 glass of water and add additional ingredients below if desired.

You can also greatly enhance your infused with water with one or both of these ingredients

  • Sprinkle cayenne pepper (⅛ teaspoon or a few sprinkles)

    • Cayenne pepper in the morning will jump start your metabolism, stimulate your circulatory system and start breaking down toxins.

  • Add ½ inch of ginger, grated

    • Ginger aids in digestion and helps purify the body


 

Coconut Lime Detox

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The coconut lime detox is a great snack during the day especially after surgery to keep you hydrated as well as provide your body with much needed nutrition.  You might not feel like a big meal, but this drink will reduce inflammation, increase digestion and help relieve constipation, all while giving you lots of nutrients you need to feel better.

Prep time: 3 minutes

Total time: 3 minutes

Servings: 1

 

Ingredients:

  1. 2 handfuls of baby spinach

  2. Fresh juice from ½ lime

  3. Fresh juice from ½ lemon

  4. ½ inch of ginger peeled and roughly chopped

  5. ½ cup of coconut water (no added sugar)

  6. Handful of ice

 

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Add water or ice to achieve desired consistency.


 

Ginger Tea

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Sometimes you want a warm beverage and not a glass of water.  Instead of coffee or black tea, reach for an herbal tea. Caffeine has natural diuretic properties which will dehydrate you.  An herbal tea like ginger tea will hydrate you and provide you with the health benefits of ginger. Ginger by itself can be rather tart, so adding a little lemon and honey will make this a delicious treat.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Servings: 1

 

Ingredients:

  1. 1 inch fresh ginger root (no need to peel!)

  2. 1 tablespoon of fresh juice of a lemon

  3. 1 tablespoon of honey

  4. 1 cup of boiling water

 

Directions:

  • Grate or finely mince ginger.  No need to peel it.

  • Pour one cup boiling water over ginger root and let it steep for 3 minutes

  • Strain the ginger tea into a mug

  • Add lemon juice and honey to taste


 

Turmeric Tea

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Try turmeric tea after surgery to help alleviate some pain or to enhance the pain medications you are already taking.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Total time: 5 minutes

Servings: 3-4

 

Ingredients:

  1. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

  2. ½ inch raw ginger minced or grated

  3. Honey and lemon juice to taste

  4. Pinch black pepper

 

Directions:

  • Bring four cups of water to a boil

  • Add turmeric powder and ginger (skin removed).

    • Reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes

  • Strain the tea through a fine sieve into a cup

  • Add honey and lemon to taste

  • Add a pinch of black pepper to increase absorption of turmeric!

 

Keep leftover tea in the refrigerator so you can heat it up over the next few days.


 

Turmeric Smoothie

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The turmeric smoothie is real treat!  Not only is it good for you, but it’s filling too. Get hydrated, get your anti-inflammatory and anti-pain properties with this great drink. Huge bonus: This is a Fat-Blocking Smoothie that is great for weight loss as well!

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Total Time: 3 minutes

Servings: 1

 

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup of almond milk

  2. ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder

  3. 1 teaspoon coconut oil

  4. Dash of vanilla

  5. ½ teaspoon of cinnamon

  6. Sprinkle black pepper (don’t forget to better absorb turmeric)

 

Directions:

  • Add all the ingredients into the blender or whisk together

Catie HarrisComment