The science: High-protein meals at home prepare patients for surgery

Patients receive more calories and protein in the weeks leading up to a scheduled surgery when they receive 6 protein-rich meals per day delivered to their homes via a meal service. However, this had no effect on physical performance or quality of life, or on the number of complications and days of survival after surgery.

The patients had greater muscle strength with a daily protein intake of at least 20 grams. That’s the conclusion food scientist Vera Ejmecker-Hmminck reached from her PhD research.

According to IJmker-Hemink, meal combination combined with physical training can have an effect on length of stay and complications, but more research is needed. The meal service (FoodforCare – FfC) has previously been shown to ensure increased protein and energy intake for hospital patients.

Already malnourished upon entry

It was also found that there is a relationship between high protein intake during recovery Fewer complications and shorter hospital stay. Approximately 15% of hospital patients are malnourished upon admission to hospital, and increasingly short hospital stays do not provide sufficient time to treat malnutrition.

Patients mainly ate more protein with Snacks in the morning and afternoon

The reason why IJmker-Hemink conducted this research. Half of the patients received 6 protein-rich meals and snacks per day in the 3 weeks prior to admission, and were also allowed to eat whatever they wanted. The other half of patients are eating as usual. Patients were keeping track of what and how much they ate.

spread of protein intake

In the FfC group, protein and calorie intake were 16% and 19% higher, respectively. Divided by meal time, they essentially ate more protein between breakfast and lunch, and between lunch and dinner. This is important to spread your protein intake throughout the day.

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The patients in the study group were just as satisfied with their diet as the patients who followed their usual diet.

Vera Ejmekker Heimink. Serving protein-rich meals to support patient care in the surrounding areas of the hospital. Radboud University, Nijmegen, October 2021.

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