The Importance of Proper Nutrition for Patients Requiring Critical Care

The Importance of Proper Nutrition for Patients Requiring Critical Care

When you are faced with a serious medical condition, it is of the utmost importance that you get the best treatment possible. While that would seem like an obvious statement, far too often proper nutrition is left out of that equation. This is a problem, as quality treatment for many conditions needs to involve proper nutrition in some form or another. You are what you eat, and as you try to recover from a major medical condition or accident, your body is going to need all of the nutrients that it can get. This means eating properly and, if necessary, taking additional nutritional supplements to make sure that your body has the energy and nutrients that it needs to repair itself effectively.

Here, then, are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when it comes to nutrition for patients needing critical care.

Cases Where Nutrition Matters Most

Proper nutrition is, of course, always important, especially when facing a condition that requires critical care. That being said, there are certain conditions for which proper nutrition is especially important. For example, those suffering from conditions that require surgery or intensive care are especially vulnerable to complications such as multiple organ and gastrointestinal dysfunction. As such, proper nutrition here is all the more vital. Research has demonstrated that proper nutrition can play a huge role in the body’s ability to fight off infections, handle complications, and ultimately shorten the length of one’s hospital stay. This is especially true when it comes to enteral nutrition, which involves nutrition that is specifically targeted around the gastrointestinal tract.

The European Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ESPEN) has done significant research into this, and they have determined that early oral feeding is preferable to other methods in many cases. As such, it is one of the most important steps you can take to help improve a patient’s chances via nutrition.

Breakthroughs in the Field

Anyone who has ever had to go in for a surgical or otherwise semi-invasive procedure before knows that fasting is often one of the requirements for preparation. The period for fasting is often somewhere in the range of 12 to 24 hours. That being said, there are some within the ICU nutrition community who are looking to bring the benefits of increased nutrition closer to the deadline, with some hoping breakthroughs could help allow patients to receive nutrients as close as 2 hours before their procedures.

One of the big takeaways from research in this field has been the importance of loading up on carbohydrates prior to a procedure. Studies have shown that doing so before a procedure helped patients deal with the postoperative metabolic stress, and thus helped them recover faster and with a reduced risk of complications. This is especially true of oral nutrition, which has been a method gaining in popularity for some time.

So, what are we to do with this information? It’s still early, but the prospects of devising methods by which patients can receive better nutrition closer to surgeries so as to help with their recovery times is looking better and better.