Nutrition and Lifestyle Modification

Nutrition and Lifestyle Modification

The role of nutrition in preventing cardiovascular disease is often ignored. Lack of knowledge, lack of availability, cultural and social practices, lack of time, taste, and cost are the factors that usually result in a poor quality diet intake.  Calorie restriction as well as improving the quality of daily diet are important steps in primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular diseases. 

A nutritionally balanced diet is essential to keep your heart healthy, manage blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and body weight. It is a healthy habit to take small frequent meals without skipping the meals, thereby avoiding binge eating. 

Current guidelines recommend diets rich in whole grains with restriction on processed and refined carbohydrates. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, low fat dairy, and seafood improve the nutritional quality. A heart-friendly diet menu should refrain from sweetened beverages, refined grains, sodas, and foods containing trans fat. At times of stress or illness, dietary supplements can be added, but they won’t replace a balanced diet. Along with this, 8-10 glasses of water per day and moderate exercises (aerobic as well as weight bearing) helps to maintain body weight. 

Taking heed of cardiovascular diseases as a global health burden, steps to impart knowledge on good nutrition and efforts to make healthy foods available and affordable to all must be initiated.

Heart healthy diet practices 

  • Make it a habit not to skip meals, small frequent meals are better 
  • Increase whole grains in diet with restriction for processed and refined carbohydrates. 
  • Limit saturated fats and trans fats, include low fat dairy products 
  • At least one portion of fruits and vegetables per day 
  • Good protein intake as fish, lean meat and plant protein 
  • Desserts, sugary sodas are to be avoided.
  • Along with this, 8- 10 glasses of water per day and moderate exercises ( aerobic as well as weight bearing) helps to maintain body weight . 

Nutrition after cardiac surgery

  • All cardiac surgical patients should be encouraged for initiation of enteral nutrition as early as possible and provided with adequate calories and high proteins to combat the post surgical proteolysis ( 25 – 30 K cal/kg energy + 1.5-2 gm/ kg protein) . 
  • Slow initiation and gradual escalation for those with high risk for refeeding syndrome. 
  • Supplementation of vitamins and micronutrients are key to better recovery. 
  • In those who are unable to tolerate full enteral feeds, trophic nutrition with supplemental parenteral nutrition is to be considered. 
  • 4-8 weeks of high protein nutritional supplementation should be continued in all patients post surgery for a good functional recovery, extended to 6 months to 1 year in those with prolonged postoperative course.