Pre-Operative Nutrition and Physical Activity

Pre-operative nutrition and physical activity advice

Surgery has a significant impact upon the body. The effect of the surgical stress can be minimized by preparing for surgery. This can be achieved by increasing your:

  • Physiological reserve
  • Cardiac output and delivery of oxygen
  • Energy reserve

Physiological reserve is the capability of your organs to carry out its function under stress. Your physiological reserve can be improved through changing some lifestyle factors; such as smoking, drinking, malnutrition and inactivity. By just improving your diet and physical activity levels will improve your physiological reserve in preparation for surgery.

Participating in physical activity can improve your cardiac output. Cardiac output is the amount of blood pumped around the body by the heart per minute, to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the organs and brain. Your heart is a muscle and needs to be trained to contract (beat) more rapidly. This will increase the amount of blood it pumps, and therefore increase the cardiac output. Physical activity requires your heart to pump more blood to meet the demands of your body, this trains your heart to beat faster. In preparation for your surgery, it is important to undertake physical activity to increase your cardiac output to reduce the effect of the surgical stress.

Furthermore, by participating in physical activity will increase your lean muscle mass, as well as consuming more protein in your diet. Which will reduce the impact if some muscle mass is depleted as a response to surgery. The maintenance of lean muscle mass is essential wound healing and your immune system, but also for physical function/recovery to regain your independence.

As discussed previously, our bodies gain energy from the food we consume. Energy can be stored as fat, adipose tissue, glycogen in the muscles or liver, or amino acids (proteins) in the muscles. However, proteins will always be the ‘last resort’ as an energy source if other sources are depleted. Use of proteins as energy will negatively impact the lean body mass and therefore muscle strength and function. By building up the energy reserves, i.e. carbohydrate loading, will prevent protein use for energy.

There is some evidence and suggestion that additional nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, can complement surgical recovery. These nutrients are thought to build proteins, which improves muscle strength. This will enable an individual to be conditioned stronger for better post-surgery recovery.

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