Immunonutrition: definition and advice

Immunonutrition: definition and advice

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Immunonutrition, understood as the care of food, it seems trivial and perhaps it is, so much so that it is often forgotten. A correct and balanced diet is synonymous with good health and it is proven, from studies but also from our daily experience, that food significantly influences the functioning of the immune system. And it's not that simple the concept of Immunonutrition, if its power in surgery and medicine is deepened.

Immunonutrition: definition

This term means the supplementary administration of specific nutrients with the aim of modulating the inflammatory response in each person and increasing the immune response. In Immunonutrition nutrients are used in order to decrease hyper-inflammation or otherwise push the immune system to act. There are numerous ways to apply it, including evaluating the clinical conditions and whether it is acute or chronic: orally (os), enteral (nasogastric tube) or parenteral (intravenous).

Immunonutrition in surgery

Over a third of patients potentially undergoing surgery could suffer from malnutrition and this factor increases the risk of developing postoperative complications.

A bad diet alters them in the long run immune defenses and intestinal barrier functionsand, if we add to this the surgical stress linked to an operation, which already causes immune alterations, complications can occur. Here's why, when you find yourself ad undergo a surgical operation, it is possible that doctors subject us to diets enriched with nutrients equipped with immunomodulating and anti-inflammatory action.

Immunonutrition and pharmaconutrition

These diets designed specifically to cure us or to put us in the best pre-operative conditions, they are based on immunonutrients, also called pharmaconutrients. Molecules and immonutrients most used are L-arginine, L-glutamine (amino acid), aomega3 fatty acids (ω3 - essential fatty acid), nucleotides, taurine (amino acid), tocopherols (vitamin E), inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS - water-soluble dietary fiber).

Arginine has a stimulating action on the secretion of some hormones, including somatotropin while glutamine, provides over half of the energy used by enterocytes and is useful in wound healing.
There taurine regulates both the osmotic balance, and helps maintain normal concentrations of platelets, erythrocytes (red blood cells), granulocytes (white blood cells) and lymphocytes.

The ω3 fatty acids are typically anti-inflammatory and contribute to the reduction of blood pressure, finally i FOS reduce the transit time of food and help maintain the integrity of the intestinal muscle.

Enteral immunonutrition

This way of practicing immunonutrition, through a nasogastric tube, it is used when the risks of complications of acute postoperative inflammation are high. To administer the minimum amount of nutrients, we proceed enterally to prevent atrophy of the intestinal villi and atrophy of the mucosa, to increase the intestinal immune barrier and reduce bacterial translocation.

This happens when the absence of one adequate nutritionin quantity and quality, it has been prolonged and malnutrition has already had repercussions on the immune system. If not, you can act orally so avoid or stem the typical effects of surgery: weight loss, reduction in muscle mass and tone, impaired immune system, slowing of healing, increased risk of infections

Immunonutrition: books

To deepen and therefore prevent the risks related to malnutrition, the topic can be explored with a book. There are some rather simple and intuitive principles that are worth reviewing. Let's start with junk food, to be avoided, as well as with "bad" fats.

The most caloric foods, in fact, with high amounts of fat and sugar, produce an immune response that lasts for about 6-8 hours after a meal. Better to have a snack with fruit and vegetables that help us slow down aging and prevent or mitigate chronic inflammatory diseases.

To keep an eye on when it comes to Immunonutrition, also allergies, food intolerances and celiac disease, while among the "ingredients" friends we find the probiotics, effective at all ages, i flavonoids, Omega 3 and Omega 6, to look for in extra virgin olive oil and blue fish. Important, easy to imagine, they are too vitamins and trace elements, excellent for regulating some vital functions and immune defense. To learn more, I recommend the book also available online, "Eat to prevent”.

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