If you’ve ever had a stay in hospital, you’ll be grateful for the level of care that’s freely available when you need it most. Whilst hospitals are providing life-saving treatments every single day, a lengthy stay can also take its toll on other aspects of your health.
Changes to your normal diet, poor quality food, inactivity, stress and lack of sleep are all common in hospital and can contribute to that ‘below par’ feeling when you come out. Recovery following illness or an operation can take time and it’s important to plan-in significant periods of rest to allow this process to happen at a reasonable pace. In addition, you can take steps to boost your nutritional intake to gently nudge the recovery process along.
Here’s some simple steps you can take to optimise your recovery after a stay in hospital:
Boost your good bacteria – Given the high level of media interest in ‘good bacteria’ or ‘probiotics’, you’ll be well aware of the importance of maintaining a balanced level of these friendly micro-organisms that are absolutely vital to your overall health. It’s important to look after your beneficial bacteria at all times, and especially if you’ve been unwell, as the gut bacteria form an important part of your immune defence. Replenishing your good bacteria is particularly important if you’ve received antibiotic therapy as this doesn’t just fight the bad guys but wipes out the good too. Choose a high strength probiotic formula that contains strains that have been shown to be important for health such as Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM strain and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07, and are known to survive conditions in the gastrointestinal tract.
Calm & de-stress – Any length of stay in hospital can be a highly stressful experience, from worrying about your health condition to not sleeping well; even just being away from your home environment and out of your normal routine can be a significant strain. Coming out of hospital can be an anxious time too, it can take some time to re-adjust to being back in your own home without nurses and doctors on hand to answer any concerns. And all of these different types of stress can soon add up. Stress is a significant anti-nutrient, and can rapidly deplete your body of essential nutrients such as vitamin C, B vitamins and magnesium, so it’s key to replenish stores as soon as you can. Choose a relaxing high strength magnesium formula that supplies this balancing mineral in powder glycinate form with added vitamin C, B vitamins and calming amino acids L-glutamine, L-theanine and L-taurine.
Support restful sleep – Sleep routines are often disrupted in hospital and this can get in the way of recovery, especially if you struggle to get back to your normal sleep routine when you return home. It’s important to take steps to restore healthy sleep habits as soon as possible, as rest is a key ingredient of recovery. Magnesium is often nicknamed ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ and is a vital nutrient for sleep. Choose a high strength powdered magnesium formula that supplies this mineral in glycinate form, combined with vitamins B6, B12 & folic acid. In addition, consider supplementing with hops, which have been traditionally used to support rest and relaxation, milk protein hydrolysate, which supports a balanced stress response, L-theanine - a relaxing amino acid found in tea, and L-tryptophan - the amino acid precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin which is crucial for sleep.
Boost your appetite – Zinc is a key nutrient for the immune system and common signs of deficiency are loss of appetite and lack of sense of taste and smell. If you’re struggling with a low appetite after illness, it’s worth considering getting a bit of extra zinc. It is best supplemented as part of a high quality multivitamin & mineral that also supplies copper as these two nutrients work together.
Get moving & eat protein – Lack of activity in hospital can quickly lead to weight loss and different degrees of muscle wasting. This is partly unavoidable if you’re confined to a hospital bed, but important to address once you’re able to get moving again. As well as gently re-introducing exercise to your daily routine, you need to make sure your body is regularly nourished with high quality protein to support muscle re-building and repair. If you’re struggling with low appetite you may find it difficult to eat enough protein to meet your body’s needs and this can quickly become a vicious circle; this is where you need to plan ahead and be prepared to avoid further weight loss. A high quality powder formula that can be mixed into a drink and supplies an optimal ratio of protein, carbohydrate and fat, as well as a comprehensive range of essential vitamins and minerals is a good option for getting extra snacks into your day.
With support & optimal nutrition you will soon be back to normal
Coming out of hospital and getting back to normal can feel daunting at first, and recovery may seem slow. It’s worth taking a bit of time to consider any additional effects of your hospital stay so you can take action to address them. You might find it easier to work with a nutritional therapist who can help to guide you along the way. It can typically take weeks or even months to get back to some kind of normality, but with the right support and optimal nourishment you will soon get there.