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Good Nutrition Helps Sepsis Survivors Recuperate

February 7, 2020

We’ve all heard the expression “we are what we eat.” There’s a lot of truth in that saying. Eating a healthy diet helps reduce the risk of some illnesses, while eating a diet full of junk food and processed foods, as well as foods that are high in fat and sugar, can increase your risk of developing certain medical conditions. So, it’s not surprising that people who are recovering from a serious illness like sepsis or septic shock need to consume a healthy diet in order to recuperate and regain strength lost during their hospitalization.

Weight loss and loss of muscle mass can occur quickly when someone is in an intensive care unit (ICU). According to a study published in 2018 in the journal Nutrients, patients in the ICU, particularly older patients who have more than one health problem, lose weight and muscle mass due to an increase in proteins, called cytokines, circulating throughout the body. Limited food intake (if any) and bedrest, even for only a few days, also lead to loss of muscle mass.

Eating healthy foods, with an emphasis on protein can help sepsis and septic shock survivors rebuild some of that lost muscle mass. But the researchers found that this isn’t the only benefit to survivors once they get home. They wrote: “Several studies have found that nutritional supplementation post-hospitalization can lower the incidence of falls, reduce inflammation, and increase handgrip strength. In frail but otherwise-healthy older adults, an adequate (15 g) supplementation of high-quality protein at breakfast and lunch was shown to increase physical function. In addition, we recently reported that 30 days of protein supplementation (20 g twice daily) was feasible and increased physical function as measured by the short physical performance battery in older patients after an acute hospitalization.”

The authors went on to explain how patients who received protein/amino acid supplementation showed improvement in their skeletal muscle health within only 2 or 3 weeks.

Learn more about nutrition after sepsis in our new feature, Sepsis and Nutrition (Post-Sepsis), part of our Sepsis and… library.