Artificial Nutrition

Diet Health care Lifestyle Nutrition Weigh loss tips

Artificial nutrition – or clinical nutrition – is indicated in the treatment of undernutrition, when natural nutrition, by oral route, becomes insufficient or impossible. There are three types of nutrition: enteral nutrition, parenteral nutrition, or oral nutrition.

Diseases (cancer, respiratory and heart failure, depression …), aging … are all situations that can weaken the nutritional state and can lead to undernutrition.

In Europe, between 5 and 10% of the population suffer from undernutrition.

The consequences are muscle wasting:

in children, it causes a downturn in the growth curve.

for the elderly, it weakens them by increasing the risk of falls, reducing their mobility and increasing the risk of infection.

The diagnosis, but even more the prevention of undernutrition are therefore essential. The measurement of weight, the calculation of the body mass index (BMI = ratio of the weight to the square of the height) must be carried out, at least once a year, for the chronically ill and the elderly to prevent from undernutrition. If a diagnosis of malnutrition is made, it will be important to identify the mechanisms involved in order to institute appropriate nutritional care, based on enriched oral nutrition when “normal” nutrition is possible, on clinical nutrition – enteral and / or parenteral – when it is not.

Oral nutrition

When possible, oral nutrition should always be preferred over other solutions. Oral nutritional supplementation (ONC) is indicated if spontaneous food intake is reduced but remains greater than half of usual intake. This oral nutritional supplement is based on nutritional advice, food intake aids, a fortified diet and oral nutritional supplements that take into account your eating habits.


You have a small appetite or you have undergone interventions on the digestive system: split your meals (3 main meals and 2 snacks).

Prefer textures that are easy to swallow, such as minced meat, mashed potatoes, vegetable mash, compotes if you have difficulty chewing or swallowing.

You can also enrich your dishes to increase the protein intake without increasing the volume. For this, you can add basic products such as milk powder, whole condensed milk, grated cheese, eggs, crème fraîche, béchamel, oil or industrial protein powder, protein-enriched pasta or semolina …

Oral nutritional supplements are complete nutrient blends, high in energy and / or high in protein, with varying tastes and textures. You can consume them during snacks or during meals, in addition to these. They make it possible to achieve an additional easily consumable caloric or protein intake. They require a medical prescription.

Your nutritional status is reassessed in the more or less long term, depending on your initial nutritional status, in order to estimate the effectiveness of the treatment. In the event of moderate undernutrition, the reassessment takes place 15 days after the start of treatment; in the event of severe malnutrition, it takes place at the end of the first week of treatment.

Compliance with treatment, weight gain and estimation of spontaneous food intake constitute the efficacy criteria for enriched oral nutrition and determine its continuation. If your nutritional status deteriorates or your food intake remains insufficient, this signals its failure and leads to the implementation of another strategy. Enteral nutrition can then be considered.

Enteral nutrition

Enteral feeding can follow a treatment with enriched oral nutrition which would not have made it possible to reach the objective set with the doctor, or be considered from the outset, when the malnutrition is severe and the oral feeding insufficient, ineffective (intestinal malabsorption) or impossible (swallowing problems, dysphagia).

This artificial nutrition technique involves delivering a nutrient solution into the digestive tract through a probe. This solution, contained in a nutrient bag or a ready-to-use bottle, provides your body with the nutrients it needs and maintains the functions of the digestive tract and associated organs (liver, pancreas, gallbladder).

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