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Protein Energy Malnutrition – How Serious Can it Be?
Protein is an important component of all cells, organs and functions in the body. It is very important and is found in several sources in the normal diet – including foods that are not good for the human body, such as processed or fast food. Although protein can be found in many different food sources, many people still do not get enough calories from their diet, including protein.
Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) is a potentially fatal malnutrition disease that is the leading cause of death in developing countries. PEM occurs when there are not enough calories or protein to nourish the body. However, this does not only happen if there is no protein in the diet, it can also happen when the body cannot absorb the protein or cannot convert it for its own use.
PEM is not a common problem in the United States; Statistically, however, it affects two different demographic groups: seniors living in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities and children from low-income families. It occurs in one in two surgical patients and affects 48% of all other hospital patients (Source: FAQS.org)
There are two types of PEM, Primary and Secondary. Primary PEM occurs when protein sources are generally inadequate and calories are low. Secondary PEM is more common in the United States and is usually a complication that has arisen from other diseases such as: AIDS, cancer, chronic kidney failure, intestinal disease. PEM may develop slowly during chronic illness or when the body is in starvation mode, but may develop rapidly in severe disease.
Protein-energy malnutrition occurs in hospitalized patients and long-term care residents for a number of reasons. Many of them cannot chew or swallow properly, preventing them from getting enough food into their system. Others may have a slow or dysfunctional digestive system, preventing them from processing the food they eat and making them uncomfortable and unwilling to eat their next meal. Many of them are also inactive and may have reduced or no metabolism at all, preventing them from being hungry at all. Older people also have less appetite at first, even if they are healthy.
In addition to not being able to eat and get enough calories from food, these patients may lose extra food due to bleeding, diarrhea, high blood sugar, kidney disease, malnutrition. There are also other conditions that greatly increase the nutritional needs of the body, especially the need for protein. These include: fever, infection, surgery, trauma, tumors, burns and the use of certain medications.
Not being able to get enough calories or enough protein from food can cause serious problems and can change the shape or function of any organ in the body. The speed or severity of the disease depends on the state of nutrition and previous health, the nature of the disease and the speed of its development.
Protein energy deficiency ranges from mild to severe; however, there is no set criteria for setting the level. Most doctors agree that a loss of ten to twenty percent of body weight is moderate PEM. At this level, there is a weak pressure and an inability to perform high-level tasks.
Severe PEM causes weight loss of more than twenty percent and can be fatal. In this stage, the patient cannot eat normally even if he has an appetite, his heart rate will decrease and his blood pressure will decrease. Body temperature will also drop below normal. The skin will look rough and wrinkled and the hair will be dry, thin and brittle. Constipation is very suitable at this time as is lethargy. Patients will also be prone to pressure sores (often called bedsores) and other skin sores because the body is unable to fight off skin damage or infections. under it.
It is very important to provide enough calories to people who are most at risk of protein-energy deficiency (children, the sick and the elderly), including the three macronutrients to ensure their health or help them recover from illness. or trauma. Using protein supplements can be beneficial because they are easier on the body. When the condition reaches a moderate to severe stage, the risk of death becomes more apparent without treatment and nutrition.
There are several types of protein supplements that can be taken today, but they must meet the same criteria to be useful:
– They must contain high-quality proteins that the body can process without additional effort. (Protein requires the most energy for the body to digest)
– They should not contain additional ingredients that may cause allergies or are difficult to digest or, finally, may transfer the protein.
– They must be delicious. Protein supplements that are high in amino acids tend to be very bitter and will not be consumed by the average person. The protein in the supplement should be broken down into smaller peptides so that it is easier to use and does not have a bitter taste.
– They should be adaptable, meaning that the patient should be able to move with the same protein supplement from the feeding tube to eating without having to introduce a new supplement source into the system that could increase the possibility of allergic reactions in some people.
– It should not raise blood sugar which can happen if there is added sugar.
– They should solve the real problem of digestion or protein digestion if possible.
– Finally, protein supplementation should provide as many additional benefits as possible without existing health conditions or hindering recovery.
There are several types of protein supplements including protein powders that can be added to other food sources and protein supplement shots. Protein powders have several advantages and disadvantages for each of the four types.
Whey Protein Powder: Benefits
– Improves glutathione production, strengthens the immune system
– The highest branched chain amino acid available in natural foods that can be converted directly into muscle
– Excellent source of the amino acid leucine which is essential for muscle growth
– Helps in optimal intake of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and micronutrients
– Helps maintain muscle mass
– Maintains the level of sugar in the blood
– High quality protein source
Whey protein: deficiency
– Possible allergy for those who are lactose intolerant
– Too much whey can damage the liver
Soy protein: benefits
– a highly digestible form of protein
– Improves the value of other foods
– May reduce cholesterol
– Suitable for vegans
– Source of phytoestrogens that are beneficial for many conditions and diseases including osteoporosis and breast health
Soy protein: deficiency
– Possible allergens
– May not be indicated in some types of breast cancer
Rice Protein: Benefits
– Easy to digest
– Suitable for vegans
Rice protein: deficiency
– May be difficult to find in some areas
– It may be more expensive to buy
Egg protein benefits
– Made from egg whites, considered a perfect source of protein
– No fat
– high protein
– High food source of amino acids, alanine, arginine, glycine and methion.
Lack of egg protein
– possible allergens
– May interact with some medications
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