Variation in Protein Origin and Utilization: Research and Clinical Application
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Muscle health can be rapidly compromised in clinical environments. Modifiable strategies to preserve metabolic homeostasis in adult patient populations include physical activity and pharmacologic support; however, optimizing dietary practices, or more specifically protein intake, is a necessary prerequisite for any other treatment strategy to be fully effective. Simply increasing protein intake is a well-intentioned but often unfocused strategy to protect muscle health in an intensive care setting. Protein quality is a frequently overlooked factor with the potential to differentially influence health outcomes. Quality can be assessed by a variety of techniques, with digestible indispensable amino acid score being the current and most comprehensive technique endorsed by the Food and Agriculture Organization. In practical terms, animal-based proteins are consistently scored higher in quality compared with incomplete proteins, regardless of the assessment method. Consequently, choosing parenteral and/or enteral feeding options that contain high-quality proteins, rich in the branched-chain amino acid leucine, may help establish a dietary framework with the potential to support clinical practice and improve health outcomes in critically ill patients.
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