Enteral nutrition refers to the process of ingesting nutrients directly into your gastrointestinal, or GI, tract. Unlike parenteral nutrition, which involves intravenously injecting nutrients into your bloodstream, enteral nutrition still requires the use of your digestive system. This allows you to better absorb the nutrients you need to live a healthy life. Enteral tube feeding (ETF) is a form of enteral nutrition in which nutrients are delivered directly to the GI tract using a feeding tube. People fed via ETF often have difficulty swallowing or have medical conditions that make them unwilling or unable to use their mouths. Continue reading below for information on some of the common products that belong in the enteral nutrition category.
Nutrition supplements often come in the form of drinks or smoothies, but they contain particularly high amounts of certain nutrients such as protein or fiber. They can be ingested using feeding tubes, but oftentimes people consume them regularly (e.g. drinking a high-protein smoothie). They are typically used by people who do not already get enough of a certain nutrient from their diet. In more extreme cases, they can be used to serve as meal replacements for people who cannot otherwise ingest food or beverages.
- Example of Nutrition Supplement
- Nutritional Drink Oral Supplement - Clear liquid nutritional drink that provides 250 calories and 9 grams of protein per servicing to help maintain muscle mass. Available in a variety of flavors, this drink supports wound healing, alleviates malnourishment
This is a subset of products within nutrition supplements aimed at people who have difficulty metabolizing, or breaking down and absorbing, certain nutrients. As a result, when they eat the same foods as everyone else, these nutrients, which are good for you in smaller doses, can build up to toxic levels and cause harmful effects like delays in cognitive development and physiological abnormalities. Thus, metabolic formulas are meant to serve as nutrition supplements that do not contain specific nutrients that a person with certain medical conditions cannot digest. For instance, a phenylketonuria (PKU) patient who has elevated levels of the amino acid phenylalanine (Phe) may need a protein shake that does not have any Phe so that s/he can maintain an adequate level of protein intake without risking toxicity.
- Example of Metabolic Formula
Specialty Infant Formulas
As the name suggests, this is another subset of products within nutrition supplements, consisting of formulas meant for babies with dietary restrictions. These formulas are typically hypoallergenic, meaning they lack various allergy-triggering ingredients or made with nutrients that have already been broken down. This second category helps babies with medical conditions that make it difficult for them to digest food by supplying them with partially pre-digested nutrients that are easier to absorb.
- Example of Infant Formula
- Gentle Infant Formula 12.4 oz. Canister Powder - Non-GMO powder specifically modeled after the complete nutrition and gentleness of breast milk.
Thickeners typically come in the form of powders that can be stirred or blended into thinner liquid drinks to make these drinks easier to swallow. Thickeners are particularly useful for people with dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, which is associated with medical conditions including multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
- Example of Nutrition Thickeners
- Thickened Beverage, Apple - Apple flavored ready-to-drink, thickened beverage for those with swallowing difficulties. These beverages will over-thicken over time and changes in temperature, ensuring you or your loved one receives the recommended consistency every time.