Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology
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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 26  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 290-298

Nutrition and the gut microbiome during critical illness: A new insight of nutritional therapy

Department of Clinical Nutrition, Faculty of Applied Medical Sciences, Taibah University, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sara Zaher
Department of Clinical Nutrition, Faculty of Applied Medical Sciences, Taibah University
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/sjg.SJG_352_20

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Changes in the microbiome in response to environmental influences can affect the overall health. Critical illness is considered one of the major environmental factors that can potentially influence the normal gut homeostasis. It is associated with pathophysiological effects causing damage to the intestinal microbiome. Alteration of intestinal microbial composition during critical illness may subsequently compromise the integrity of the intestinal epithelial barrier and intestinal mucosa absorptive function. Many factors can impact the microbiome of critically ill patients including ischemia, hypoxia and hypotension along with the iatrogenic effects of therapeutic agents and the lack of enteral feeds. Factors related to disease state and medication are inevitable and they are part of the intensive care unit (ICU) exposure. However, a nutritional intervention targeting gut microbiota might have the potential to improve clinical outcomes in the critically ill population given the extensive vascular and lymphatic links between the intestines and other organs. Although nutrition is considered an integral part of the treatment plan of critically ill patients, still the role of nutritional intervention is restricted to improve nitrogen balance. What is dismissed is whether the nutrients we provide are adequate and how they are processed and utilised by the host and the microbiota. Therefore, the goal of nutrition therapy during critical illness should be extended to provide good quality feeds with balanced macronutrient content to feed up the entire body including the microbiota and host cells. The main aim of this review is to examine the current literature on the effect of critical illness on the gut microbiome and to highlight the role of nutrition as a factor affecting the intestinal microbiome-host relationship during critical illness.

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