Maintaining good nutrition is important both before and after joint replacement surgery to help you heal quickly, recover your strength and protect your joint. Before joint replacement surgery, you should eat a well-balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, grain products, lean meats, fish, poultry, low-fat dairy products or other sources of protein every day. After surgery you should continue to eat a balanced diet, including a good source of protein at each meal. This will help your muscles relax and make you stronger.
Long touted for their anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to relieve joint pain and swelling. A review of 17 studies reported that using omega-3s for three to four months reduced joint pain, stiffness and tenderness in people with rheumatoid arthritis. It also reduced the need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain. Boost your omega-3 intake by eating salmon, krill, flaxseed and walnuts.
Long used in Eastern medicine to treat musculoskeletal problems, ginger contains a complex mix of compounds that researchers suspect helps thwart inflammation in several ways. Along with its inflammation-cooling properties, ginger may have anticancer powers too.
A newcomer to the pain relief spotlight is magnesium, which works as a pain reliever and muscle relaxant, and can make you a little sleepy too.
Glucosamine and chondroitin
Glucosamine and chondroitin are both precursors to a type of protein called proteoglycans. This protein is the building block for the cartilage that cushions your joints. Glucosamine helps build and repair cartilage, while chondroitin keeps it from breaking down. Most glucosamine and chondroitin supplements come from animal sources.
Eat healthy for your heart
In addition to the foods and supplements listed above, you should follow a heart-smart diet to ensure that your cholesterol and weight remain at a healthy level.
- Fish, skinless poultry, lean meats, dried beans, peas and lentils
- Egg whites or egg substitutes
- Fresh, frozen and dried fruits and vegetables
- Whole grain, nonfat or low-fat breads and cereals
- Nonfat or low fat crackers, pretzels, granola bars, baked chips and snack foods
- Regular mayonnaise, sour cream or salad dressings
- Vegetables prepared in fat such as butter, cream, bacon, fat back and shortening
- Fatty meats, organ meats, cold cuts, sausage, hot dogs and bacon
- High-fat breads such as croissants, biscuits, doughnuts and cornbread
Finally, being overweight puts extra stress on your joints. If you are not at a healthy weight after you have healed from your surgery then you should consider the following: set realistic weight loss goals (one to two pounds per week); choose low-fat, high fiber foods; limit portion size; and exercise regularly.