The Right Diet Makes All the Difference: What You Should Eat and Avoid While Recovering from Knee Replacement Surgery

The first thought you have after undergoing such a life altering procedure like a total knee replacement is having a smooth sailing recovery. There are many successful strategies that work wonders in healing your body such as following your doctor’s orders and engaging in some knee strengthening exercises. But if you’re looking for another excellent way to have a major impact on your recovery, try turning to what you’re eating. Your body has much to repair from loss of important minerals to cells and tissues which means it needs the right nourishment now more than ever. By acknowledging which vitamins and minerals quickly and efficiently assist in getting your body back to normal, you will fly through your recovery.

To get started, check out these five most essential vitamins and minerals to add to your diet.


This mineral takes an important role in cell regrowth as well as keeping your immunity up so making sure you get your daily amount (about eleven grams for men and eight grams for women) will help make your recovery a breeze. With meat being the highest source, you’ll find at least 5 grams towards your daily goal in beef and oysters, 3 grams in turkey, pork, and veal, and although the levels are much lower, those living the vegetarian life will rejoice knowing nuts and seeds also contain the zinc they need.

Vitamin C.

Going beyond just an immunity boost, Vitamin C is a necessary part of forming cartilage and bone as well as repairing tendons, ligaments, and skin. Consuming your required 75mg-90mg is as simple as adding an array of fruits and vegetables to your meal plan. With food out there containing higher levels of Vitamin C than just your typical glass of orange juice, you can indulge in some great dishes like stuffed roasted red peppers and preparing a strawberry or papaya parfait.


It’s inevitable to lose blood during an operation and that blood loss is also accompanied by low levels of iron. Seeing how this mineral helps combat blood clotting along with avoiding anemia, in most cases your doctor will prescribe a supplement, but you could do more on your behalf by opting for iron-rich food such as spinach, fish, and even cashews.

Vitamin D

Strengthening your knee is a key factor that follows replacement surgery, so why not give your body a vitamin that amplifies bone density along with muscle and tissue regeneration? If you enjoy flounder or codfish, mushrooms, and love eggs for breakfast or mixed into your salad, you’ll find yourself obtaining the right amount of Vitamin D to get the job done.


One of the most important things to add to your diet plan is fiber-rich food. A major complication many people endure after surgery is constipation due to a side effect in their pain killers. To derail any risk of further discomfort, it’s in your best interest to make sure your body is taking in enough whole grain bread, rice, and cereal as well as fiber-packed fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots.

Being aware of the amazing benefits of consuming the right nutrients is only the first step though. It’s important you now acknowledge some foods to take caution with and avoid while you’re recovering from your knee replacement.

Vitamin K.

Although vegetables are a crucial part of any healthy diet, those that are a source of Vitamin K may contribute to blood clotting, which is already a risk factor after surgery. Make it your short-term goal to ditch broccoli, cauliflower, onions, kale, cabbage and any other food that contains this vitamin.


We mentioned earlier how constipation is a culprit in amplifying your pain level which ultimately can place additional stress on your recovering knee. As important as it is to eat food that will help you go, it’s just as important to avoid foods that contribute to constipation such as candy, cake, and other pastries. Furthermore, there’s no nutritional value in these items and with their ability to make you feel full faster, they more often than not take the place of the essential food your body needs to heal.


It isn’t always necessary to completely cut dairy products from your diet, however it can cause constipation for some people because of how difficult it becomes to digest after surgery. Focus on low-fat products like yogurt, skim milk, or cottage cheese and eat these in moderation until you establish whether or not your body can handle dairy, and if not, it’s wise to eliminate it for the time being.


Since you’re avoiding constipation, you might think having a cup of Joe when you roll out of bed or need a quick energy boost is a safe way to go, but drinks high in caffeine could make matters worse by causing diarrhea. Therefore, it’s best to avoid coffee, soda, and other caffeinated drinks for at least a couple of weeks after surgery.


Just in case this was questionable, you cannot kick back with a beer while you watch the game. Alcohol causes blood thinning which slows down the healing process as well as risks bleeding and bruising so avoid it entirely.

As always, before altering your diet, consult your doctor to make sure increasing your vitamin intake won’t affect any medication you might be on or to discuss if you need to go a different route such as taking supplements. But overall, adjusting what you eat and what you avoid is an excellent way to have a fast and successful recovery. For more advice on prepping for and healing after surgery, be sure to check out our blog!