Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eating To Heal The Body

After my recent 6 day stay in the hospital, I was more than ready to return home and eat nutritious foods.  It seemed very weird to me that I was in a state of the art teaching hospital, having a miracle kidney transplant, but being fed inferior food to nourish my body.

The first foods I was given were of course "clear liquids".  This consisted of chicken broth, Popsicles, and apple juice.  I have to admit that after not eating for 48 hours, the first few tastes of the artificially flavored, orange Popsicle were divine.  The chicken broth literally tasted like they had dipped a whole chicken in some water and added a spoon full of salt to it.  I couldn't choke it down. 

Every day, a very pleasant young man would walk through my hospital room door and announce "Nutrition" as he slid a plastic tray of food onto the table next to my bed.  I would peer under the domed lid and wince at what I saw.  White bread french toast with maple flavored corn syrup, diet yogurt, bacon product, and ultra-homogenized skim milk.  Nutrition?  I think not!

I wondered why the surgeons had worked so hard to save my life but the cook was now set on destroying it.  I couldn't get home fast enough.  If I hadn't been in a hospital that was two hours away from my home, I would have had my husband bring me meals from our own kitchen. 

Upon returning home, I was happy I had prepared meals in advance and frozen them.  Hubs made a quick trip to the market to pick up fresh dairy and produce and we were set.  

Since most of us will deal with a surgery or severe illness at least once in our lifetime, I thought I'd share what foods and activities I'm using to help me recover as quickly as possible from my kidney transplant. 

Foods To Recover With:
1.  Local Honey:  Local honey is good for digestive health and wound healing.  It also has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.  I emphasize local honey because it is good for helping your body deal with local allergens.  I use honey as my main sweetener - in my oatmeal, tea, and on my toast.

2.  Organic blueberries:  Blueberries are high in antioxidants and support urinary health.  They also have anti-inflammatory properties.  I emphasize organic because blueberries are on the "dirty dozen" list of foods that are highly sprayed on non organic farms.  I eat them in salads and make smoothies with them.

3.  Wild Alaskan Salmon:  High in omega-3 fatty acids and protein that promotes tissue healing.  It has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for the cardiovascular system.  I emphasize Wild Alaskan Salmon because it is "cleaner" than farmed raised.  I broil or saute the salmon with organic butter and a little bit of sea salt and pepper. 

4.  Green Tea:  Green tea is good for reducing inflammation and decreasing the incidences of stroke and heart disease.

5.  Fresh Veggies:  Fresh vegetables, especially dark green ones, contain loads of vitamins and minerals.  Be sure to eat several servings a day and serve them with a "good" fat like olive oil, coconut oil, or organic butter to help your body take advantage of the vitamins. 

6.  Yogurt:  Organic whole milk yogurt contains protein for healing as well as vitamins, minerals, and probiotics.  Probiotics are very important to take in if you are on any kind of antibiotic.  The probiotics help to add good bacteria to your system as the antibiotics kill the bad bacteria. Try to eat one serving of yogurt every day.  If you don't like the flavor of yogurt, disguise it in a smoothie.

7.  Pomegranate juice:  Pomegranate juice is great for healing blood vessels.  I've been drinking a blueberry/pomegranate juice combo every morning.

8.  Coconut oil:  Containing medium chain fatty acids, coconut oil helps your body absorb the important vitamins and minerals you're getting from the other foods.  That's why I add it to my oatmeal, smoothies, and granola.   It also contains anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-fungal,anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties.  As an immuno-suppressed patient, I treat coconut oil like my hero!

9.  Oatmeal:  Oatmeal contains valuable fiber which is needed to help get the sluggish digestive track back on track after an illness or surgery.  It's the vehicle in which my honey, coconut oil, and blueberries travel every morning.

10.  Bananas:  Even though I try to eat most of my fruits and veggies from local sources, bananas are an exception I make.  They help control your blood pressure and contain valuable magnesium and potassium.  Our whole family loves them and they make a great mid-morning snack.

11.  Eggs:  Good quality organic eggs are an excellent source of protein and helps reduce inflammation. 

In addition to eating good-for-you foods, I'm also making sure I incorporate some good life-style habits as well. 

1.  Exercise:  After being bedridden due to an illness or surgery, it's important to get your blood pumping again.  There is an increased danger of blood clots and strokes from being inactive.  Make it a point to get up every hour and walk around for a few minutes.  If you can't get up very often, wiggle your legs and feet and tighten your muscles to get some blood flowing.  Moving around helps fight off depression and helps your digestive track start working too.

2.  Fresh Air:  Our great grandmothers knew the benefits of getting some fresh air and sunshine.  It helps boost your spirits and makes you feel better.  A little bit of sunshine will give you a bit of vitamin D. 

3.  Water:  Getting enough liquids is very important in helping your body heal.  A dehydrated body cannot function very well.  Your digestive and urinary systems need water to function.  Your brain and circulatory system need water to function.  Your skin and tissues need water to heal.  Yes, you need water - at least 2 quarts a day.  I opt for 3 quarts a day but include soups, broths, juices, and tea in my total. 

My doctors are impressed with my recovery thus far and are happy with how my body is healing.  Now, if I could just find the cook from the hospital kitchen and give him/her a piece of my mind - or maybe just the address to this blog post!



  1. You know my dear sister, you could write a book or talk to other patients who have been diagnosed with kidney disease.
    Love you!

  2. P.S. I put a bug in their ear today about the food. I think you should say something too. : ) Maybe they will get the hint.

  3. I'm so proud of you Mom, and your healthy habits are motivating!

  4. Wishing u a speedy recovery. Sending hugs your way..
    MJ Poracky

  5. The food in hospitals has always amazed me. You can't have salt on your food, but here's some jello and pudding. Never makes any sense.

  6. Kelly, I bookmarked this post a when you wrote it. I'm so glad I did. I had an ongoing uncomfortable health issue that seemed to be caused by residual inflammation from an infection. I felt sure that was the case, but the drs. didn't want to listen to me. So, I decided to start drinking a glass of pomegranate/blueberry juice every morning. Before this, I'd had symptoms every day for 3 months. After drinking the juice, my symptoms noticeably decreased. After a week, they've practically disappeared.

    Thanks for sharing what you've learned!


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