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Tube feeding ensures the supply of vital nutrients

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Patients with a nasogastric tube or a PEG tube receive a balanced diet. That means: The tube feeding contains exactly as many nutrients and calories as you need.

The amount of calories in this balanced diet is usually between 1,500 and 2,000 calories. The amount and the ratio of nutrients in the food are adapted to the individual needs of the person concerned. Special diets for people with impaired digestion and food intake are also available. The nutrient solutions are easy to store - they have a long shelf life.

Ingredients balanced

The nutrient solutions for artificial nutrition contain various ingredients.
These include: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water. The most important sources of protein are milk and soy protein. Due to possible intolerances, most solutions do not contain gluten. The proportion of fat can be between 10 and 35 percent. As a basis for the fats contained, the manufacturers use corn oil or soybean oil for the long-chain triglycerides and coconut oil for the medium-chain triglycerides. The tube feeds offer an efficient source of energy with essential fatty acids.

Most nutrient solutions contain 40 to 75 percent carbohydrates. They are mainly obtained from corn starch. The industrially manufactured nutrient solutions are usually low in lactose or lactose-free.

Tube feeding contains fiber to regulate bowel movements

Dietary fiber is also extremely important in nutritional solutions because it binds a lot of water in the intestine and increases the volume of stool. The insoluble fiber obtained from soybeans is primarily used to regulate bowel movements.

However, too much fiber must not be added to the tube food, as it swells up and changes the flow properties of the tube food and can clog the tubes. This can be prevented by a higher proportion of water-soluble fiber such as pectin. Dietary fiber may not be given in the case of intestinal constrictions (stenoses), in Crohn's disease in an acute episode or after major abdominal operations.

The tube feeding also contains water (70 to 85 percent) for artificial nutrition. The higher the water content, the lower the energy density. The lower or higher water content must also be taken into account in the fluid balance. This is particularly important for patients with heart failure (heart failure), for example: For them, excessive fluid intake can lead to edema (water retention) - for example in the legs or even in the lungs.
  • Author: Dr. med. Anja Vogt, Dr. med. Kathrin Fahl, Dr. med. Karen Strehlow, Doctors Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin; medical quality assurance: Cornelia Sauter, doctor
  • Swell: I. Füsgen: The older patient - problem-oriented diagnostics and therapy, Urban
  • J. Stein, K.-W. Jauch: Practical Guide to Clinical Nutrition and Infusion Therapy, Springer 2003

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