Nutrition After Resection Surgery

During a surgical resection, what your body needs in terms of nutrients will mostly depend on two things:

  1. The length of the intestines left after surgery.
  2. Where along the digestive tract the surgery is done.

Different parts of the intestines do different jobs when it comes to absorbing nutrients. For instance, if part of the ileum is taken out during a surgery, like ileal-colonic resection (ICR), the body might find it harder to absorb vitamin B12 because the section where it usually gets absorbed is now shorter. In this case, your GI care team might prescribe things like injections, sublingual B12, or nasal sprays after carefully checking your vitamin B12 levels. You might also be encouraged to eat foods rich in B12, like fortified cereals, nutritional yeast, lean meats and salmon, and tempeh.


The ileum also plays a big role in absorbing bile acid, an important part of digestion that helps break down cholesterol, oils, fats, and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. After ICR, some people might have issues with bile acid absorption, leading to symptoms like watery diarrhea and separation of oil from stool. Choosing foods that aren’t fried or high in saturated fat, especially in large amounts during one meal, might help ease these symptoms during recovery. There are also medications that can help with bile acid absorption, so if you’re worried about this, talk to your surgeon or GI doctor. (12-14)



12. Matsumoto Y, Mochizuki W, Akiyama S, et al. Distinct intestinal adaptation for vitamin B12 and bile acid absorption revealed in a new mouse model of massive ileocecal resection. Biol Open. 2017;6(9):1364-1374. Published 2017 Sep 15. doi:10.1242/bio.024927


13. Godny L, Maharshak N, Reshef L, et al. Fruit Consumption is Associated with Alterations in Microbial Composition and Lower Rates of Pouchitis. J Crohns Colitis. 2019;13(10):1265-1272. doi:10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjz053


14. Liska D, Mah E, Brisbois T, Barrios PL, Baker LB, Spriet LL. Narrative Review of Hydration and Selected Health Outcomes in the General Population. Nutrients. 2019;11(1):70. Published 2019 Jan 1. doi:10.3390/nu11010070