Did you know that up to 50% of patients are malnourished when they enter this hospital? This is problematic because malnutrition prolongs recovery, increases post-operative complications including death, and is associated with increased length of stay and hospital readmissions. Good nutrition before surgery is important to help with your recovery.
Surgery increases stress on your body, which triggers inflammation and impairs the immune system. Preparing your body for surgery is like training for a marathon, in which good nutrition helps your body to recover faster. Two nutrients, arginine and omega-3 fatty acids, are especially important to help your body to prepare for surgery. Arginine is an amino acid and is found in foods such as dairy products, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, beans, nuts and seeds. Arginine helps with immune function, tissue repair, and wound healing. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, and help to reduce inflammation.
Good hydration and exercise also help your body to prepare for surgery. People who are well hydrated report less pain and nausea after surgery. Also, increasing lean body mass with exercise helps with strength after surgery. In fact, three days of bed rest can result in a loss of up to 10% of total leg muscle, so getting out of bed soon after surgery can also help with recovery.
Everyone can benefit from good nutrition before surgery, but it is even more important for some people. Those who are underweight, have a reduction in food intake, or who have recently lost a significant amount of weight are at a higher risk for post-operative complications and should work to boost their nutrition status before surgery. At Upland Hills Health, Registered Dietitians work with patients to improve nutritional status before surgery so that they can have the best possible outcome.