Washington: The last few meals before surgery might make a difference in your recovery, a new study has found.

Fat tissue is one of the most dominant components that make up the body, and fat tissue is always traumatised during major surgery.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) found that this direct trauma greatly impacts the chemical balance of fat tissue – chemicals that are known to communicate with nearby and distant organs.

In the study, mice that consumed a typical Western, high-fat diet showed an exaggerated imbalanced response. Importantly, restricting food intake to a lower-fat diet just a few weeks before surgery reduced the imbalance back toward a more normal response.

Senior study author C Keith Ozaki, Director of BWH Vascular Surgery Research, and colleagues measured how fat responds to surgery and whether restricting calorie intake before surgery changed how the fat tissue responded to typical trauma that usually occurs during an operation.

“Surgeons have learned that generally minimising trauma accelerates patient recovery from surgery,” noted 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,” Ozaki said.

“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,” Ozaki said.

Researchers fed one group of mice a high-fat diet (containing 60 per cent calories from fat), while a control group was given a more normal diet (containing 10 per cent calories from fat).

Three weeks before surgery, researchers switched some of the high-fat diet mice to the normal diet. During surgery, the researchers performed procedures that would occur during a typical operation and observed that such surgical trauma rapidly affected the fat tissues located both near and away from the trauma site.

This resulted in increased inflammation and decreased specialised fat hormone synthesis, especially in the young adult mice and those that had a simulated wound infection.

However, reducing food intake before surgery tended to reverse these activities for all mice age groups, even in the setting of the simulated infection.

The results suggest that while fat is a very dominant tissue in the human body, its ability to rapidly change might be leveraged to lessen complications in humans during stressful situations such as surgery.

The study was published in the journal Surgery

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