The importance of high protein/high-calorie products in clinical nutrition
11 August 2021
The right protein and calorie intake are essential for good health. However, some people with gastric problems that affect the stomach and intestines find it difficult to obtain the amount of protein and calories their body needs through a normal diet.
Protein and calorie-enriched products can aid digestion and help ensure the body receives enough of these minerals to function healthily.
What is clinical nutrition?
Clinical nutrition is the medical term used to advise patients on how to eat correctly to maximise health, especially if they suffer from chronic disease. Gastrointestinal disorders are a particularly common problem that can be treated with careful management of nutritional intake and are linked to the body’s inability to process certain substances.
According to a study carried out by the University of Gothenburg, 4 out of every 10 adults in the world suffer from a gastric disorder. Clinical nutrition is a way to prevent and manage these disorders by the consumption of additional protein or calories, as required.
What are the most common gastroenteropathy conditions?
Problems with the gastrointestinal tract can present in a variety of conditions, including:
- acid reflux
- stomach bloating
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
These can occur at any time in a person’s life and the correct clinical nutrition advice can help ease and treat the symptoms.
These disorders can be the result of a busy, stressful lifestyle when sometimes people don’t find the time to eat a regular, healthy meal.
The symptoms are also often linked to poor digestion, which is essential for the body to absorb the nutrients provided by food and drink, including protein and calories.
What are the benefits of high protein/high-calorie products on gastrointestinal disorders?
Whilst many people need to follow a high-protein or high-calorie diet to ensure their intake is right for them, it can be difficult to digest some foods, which can lead to the above conditions.
The body needs to digest protein in the natural form of foods such as eggs, lean meat, fish, seafood and dairy products. An alternative to these is protein supplements or foods and drinks made with added protein. The protein turns into amino acids which are absorbed into the blood through the intestines and carried into the body.
Stomach acid promotes enzymes in the body to break down protein before it is absorbed. We cannot absorb protein simply by eating protein-filled foods – the breakdown process is essential.
But some people do not have the right enzymes to process proteins in certain foods. This is especially common in older people as the stomach produces fewer enzymes as we age.
If the body cannot tolerate certain foods, it can be impossible to achieve the right nutritional intake.
Protein-enriched products such as desserts and ready-to-drinks containing extra protein or calories can be the ideal way to get the correct intake of these nutrients without upsetting the stomach.
These foods and drinks are also beneficial for people who suffer from gastric problems. They are convenient and easy to consume while working or after exercising and are a suitable alternative to skipping meals.
Another benefit of high-protein foods is that they make you feel full for longer, indicating the right number of calories has been consumed. This helps prevent the desire to snack on unhealthy foods that the body may not be able to tolerate.
Protein and calorie-enriched products are also beneficial for older people who find it difficult to eat large meals. As we age our metabolic rate changes and appetite often reduces. This loss of appetite can be due to certain health conditions, or simply the results of old age.
However, it is still important for older people to eat the right foods in the correct amounts. An instant soup, a creamy dessert or a high protein/high calorie drink can be much more appealing to an older person than a large meal.
Therefore, foods and drinks with added protein are beneficial for people with gastrointestinal problems as a form of diet control.
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Dietary proteins and functional gastrointestinal disorders. (2013). National Library of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23567359/
Study shows global prevalence of functional gastrointestinal disorders. (2020). News Medical Life Sciences. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200527/Study-shows-global-prevalence-of-functional-gastrointestinal-disorders.aspx#:~:text=For%20every%20ten%20adults%20in,those%20now%20presenting%20these%20results.
Dix, R. M. N. (2021, April 1). How Is Protein Digested? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/protein-digestion
Your Digestive System & How it Works. (2021, July 7). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/digestive-system-how-it-works