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Natural defense mechanisms

Surgery for a Total Knee Replacement is a major assault on the body. It creates a great amount of stress and your body’s natural defense mechanisms react to the stress. Pain, swelling, and inflammation reactions are to be expected. At the same time your body reacts to the knee surgery, it starts to heal itself. Unfortunately, some of these reactions can hinder the healing and your subsequent recovery. The body’s resources are stretched to meet all of their needs.

There are some simple things you can do to ensure you heal from your knee replacement as quickly as possible. They aren’t complicated nor do they cost a lot of money. They will require your attention both before, and after your knee operation.

The body’s ability to recover from any assault is dependent on a number of things. Adequate rest is one. Most healing occurs at night. Relief from stress is another. Stress, or to be more blunt, the fight or flight response, releases various chemicals into the body that channel activity away from long term care and over to quick response capability. You want to avoid this. The last requirement is the presence of appropriate and correct nutrients so the body can repair tissues and reduce inflammation.

Unfortunately our current diets don’t have anything like the variety and quantity of vitamins, minerals and other elements that our ancestors evolved with. Part of the problem is the calorie density of our food. The constant presence of sugar and other carbohydrates provides more than adequate energy for our daily requirements, especially with our reduced levels of activities. In the distant past, our forbears had to eat a much larger quantity of vegetative material, and even meat (much leaner meat, with significantly less fat content) to fuel themselves up for their daily activities. And those daily activities did not involve turning up the thermostat for heat, or flipping a switch for cooling. All travel was by foot, and the hunt for food, before the invention of agriculture, required steady travel during much of the day. The calories burned by primitive peoples were large, but the benefit was that their diets were varied and their daily intake of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients was significantly higher that we get today.

Certainly you should make a point of eating a varied diet, high in fresh vegetables and quality protein. Dark green leafy salads containing romaine, leaf lettuces, kale, swiss chard and spinach are good. Bright colored veggies like peppers (red and orange as well as green), carrots, tomatoes etc. contain the range of vitamins such as A, C, and E that will assist your recovery. And don’t forget to take your multi-vitamins. Even with your best efforts, you are consuming produce that has been bred to look good in the store, and travel well, not to be nutritious. So double up on your on-a-days. A study involving 11,000 dentists, followed over a decade, identified that the healthiest 10% tended to consume about four times the RDA of most essential vitamins and minerals. Something to consider.

You might also think about starting the day off with a protein shake. A rounded scoop of whey protein powder with some frozen berries and half a banana in a blender is an excellent source of low fat protein and anti-oxidants. Have another shake mid-afternoon, and make your main meals, lunch and supper, slightly smaller than normal. This way you are spreading your nutrient intake out across the day. This is easier on your system.

There are some supplements you can take that will help you in your quest to heal. Two amino acids that you might consider are L-Arginine and Ornithine. These two are considered “non-essential” because your body can synthesize them from other proteins, but studies have shown that under conditions of stress, your body does not produce enough of them.

In particular, arginine and ornithine encourage the thymus gland in the production of more and more active lymphocytes. Lymphocytes play an important role in the body’s immune system.

As well, studies have shown that arginine, in combination with lysine (1200 mg each), promotes the release of human growth hormone. HGH accelerates wound healing and slows muscle loss after surgery. If you have liver or kidney disorders, you should not take these supplements without consulting your doctor.

Your system has a major job in front of it. Healing from knee replacement surgery will stretch your systems resources. Provide it with the quality fuel it needs. And it will reward you with a faster, more comlication free recovery.

Paul Stevens is a Certified Personal Trainer and was recently the recipient of a new Stryker Triathlon artificial knee. You can read about his experiences pre and post surgery and take a look at his informative knee replacement links at his blog site: http://www.totalkr.blogspot.com/

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