What You Should Eat Before Surgery

Having surgery can be traumatic. If you want to lower your risk for complications, research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital shows that eating certain foods right before your operation can improve your chances of a speedy recovery.

These scientists have found that eating meals lower in fat and calories for a few weeks before surgery may enhance your healing.

In lab tests, the researchers showed that low-fat meals and smaller portions may ease the body’s reaction to the trauma of being cut open. It may also limit inflammation when a surgeon slices through layers of body fat to reach the organs he is operating on.

The scientists measured how body fat responds to incisions and how eating fewer calories affects the reaction to the tissue trauma that takes place during an operation.

“Surgeons have learned that generally minimizing trauma accelerates patient recovery from surgery,” says researcher C. Keith Ozaki. “While we do this well for specific organs such as the heart, blood vessels, liver, and so forth, we historically have paid little attention to the fat that we cut through to expose these organs. Our findings challenge us all to learn more about how fat responds to trauma, what factors impact this response, and how fat’s response is linked to the outcome of individual patients.”

Smaller, nutrient-dense meals may help protect the body against the stress of an operation. The scientists note that this especially may help people experiencing vascular surgery, who have a greater risk of complications.



Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.