Aggressive nutrition intervention has become an essential component in the therapy of critically ill patients. Early provision of enteral nutrients within 24 hours of injury or surgery appears optimal and is associated with benefits such as a reduction in septic complications, a decrease in the hypermetabolic response to severe burn injury, and improved wound healing. Early enteral nutrient administration has a significant impact on preserving gastrointestinal integrity and barrier function and maintaining intestinal immunologic defenses, which may have a role in decreasing infectious outcomes in critically ill patients. Establishing an enteral access becomes a priority with early feeding. Small intestine feeding usually is preferred to gastric nutrient administration, yet some declare biologic superiority with intragastric feedings. The optimal enteral product for use in critically ill patients remains unknown. Key nutrients, such as glutamine, arginine, fiber, and alternative lipids, may have potential benefits and need to be considered when formulating an enteral regimen in this patient population.
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