Proper nutritional support to patients improves their responsiveness to the medical treatment, reduces morbidity and mortality, and cuts the hospitalization costs significantly. There are two kinds of nutrition support — parenteral and enteral. Parenteral nutrition support is effective and lifesaving, but its prolonged use is not desirable because it fails to preserve gut functions and integrity. However, when the gastrointestinal tract is not functional, parenteral nutrition support (i.e., feeding sterile nutrients via vein, thereby bypassing the gut) still remains as an alternative method of nutritional support. By contrast, enteral nutrition support (feeding food orally or via a tube to the gut) is an effective method to provide nutritional support to patients who have a functional or partially functional gastrointestinal tract but are unable to nourish themselves effectively. Enteral nutrition support has gained significant importance over parenteral nutrition, because it preserves intestinal structure and functions. Further, it is cost effective, easy to administer and manage. This book is designed to contribute to effective nutrition support to patients by developing the enteral food from natural sources.
Enteral foods are a class of liquid medical foods that are engineered to provide complete or partial enteral nutritional support to the patients. These foods are delivered either orally or through a tube directly to the stomach, duodenum, or jejunum, depending upon the medical condition of the patient. Although several enteral foods are available in the market, most of them are based on either defined or chemically defined ingredients wherein maltodextrin, glucose, or fructose serve as sources of carbohydrates; sodium or calcium caseinate, amino acids or protein hydrolysates as sources of protein; and, soy oil, corn oil, medium chain triglyce-rides, or structured lipids as sources of lipid. These defined or chemically defined ingredients are expensive and lack the natural stimulants and protectants that are present in the natural foods. Further, to mask the off flavor of defined ingredients, these foods often need to be artificially flavored. Furthermore, some of the defined ingredients do exert high osmotic load causing diarrhea or dehydration.
KeywordsEnteral Nutrition Nutrition Support Liquid Medical Food Parenteral Nutrition Support Specialty Food
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