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Nutritional Strategies for ACL Recovery

What you eat and drink has a significant impact on how your body heals after surgery. If you suffer from an ACL injury, need ACL surgery, or are recovering from knee surgery, nutrition can help optimize your recovery.

Your body consists of a brilliant built-in mechanism that allows you to recover after any form of trauma, including surgery. With proper rest, nutrition, and hydration, your body can recover quickly and efficiently. The anterior cruciate ligament, (ACL) in particular is made up of connective tissue that contains collagen, making it crucial that you support the rebuilding process of tissues with adequate nutrition.

Nutritional strategies for ACL recovery should include nutrient dense foods and supplements to help your body heal from an ACL injury.

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins and minerals. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, including berries, which are high in antioxidants. Consume dark leafy greens regularly because they contain vitamins A, C, E, and K and aid in the healing process. Fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense and contain fiber, which is crucial for regular bowel movements. This is important after surgery as many people suffer from constipation from pain medications after surgery.

Focus on whole grains.

Whole grains will provide you with fiber and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide your body with the energy it needs throughout the healing process. Good options can include oats, rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread and pasta.

Consume healthy fats.

Olive oil, coconut oil, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds are all great options. They contain vitamins, fiber, and healthy fats that provide you with energy and support healthy cell function.

Eat adequate protein.

Protein is essential for rebuilding and repairing tissues, creating new blood cells, and speeding up the recovery process. Choose lean protein, such as chicken, turkey, fish, beans, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, lean ground beef, and eggs.

Drink plenty of water.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Adequate hydration is vital for recovery, and helps flush out toxins and waste.

Consider taking supplements and vitamins.

The most important vitamins to take after surgery are vitamins C, A, D, B, K, and E. Most physicians recommend a good multivitamin that contains essential vitamins. Iron, zinc, and calcium are also essential for the healing process. Collagen is a great supplement to take while recovering from surgery, as it helps in the wound healing process by repairing tissues.

Avoid certain foods.

Avoid over-processed foods that come prepackaged. Processed foods are void of nutrition and usually contain added sugar. Avoid alcohol while recovering from surgery. Alcohol thins the blood and slows down the blood clotting process, which is necessary for healing. It also causes dehydration and can cause complications with some prescription medications. It’s best to avoid alcohol until you are fully recovered.

AUTHOR: Dr. Anup Shah is a board-certified, fellowship-trained Sports Medicine Orthopedic surgeon specializing in Knee and Shoulder Surgery in Phoenix, Arizona at Banner Health. Dr. Shah uses a patient-centric and an evidence-based approach to help his patients achieve their desired goals.

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