Many people do not realise that Nestlé has a business dedicated to medical nutrition and health and wellness products. Did you?
Our products are used by patients and customers from their early to later years, and every day in between. But you may have only heard of them if you or a loved one's health needs a little extra nurturing!
Nestlé Health Science offers an extensive range of science-based products, supporting people whether they have a long-term illness, or simply want to help support their day-to-day health.
What is medical nutrition?
Medical nutrition products cover primarily 'foods for special medical purposes', which are nutrition products that need to be prescribed and/or used under medical supervision - monitored for example by a speech and language therapist or dietitian.
- nutritional supplements (milkshake style or juice style drinks)
- tube feeds
- food and drink thickeners for people who cannot swallow safely
- specialist formulas* for children with an allergy to cows’ milk.
Nutritional supplements and tube feeds are liquids that contain the energy, protein, vitamins and minerals required by the patient to meet their daily needs. The liquid can either come in a bottle to drink from, or as special tube feeding bottle.
*Important notice: Formula for special medical purposes must be used under medical supervision. Mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed even when their infants have cows' milk allergy. A healthcare professional must be consulted.
Why is medical nutrition used?
Nutritional supplements and tube feeds are provided when people are unable to get all their energy, protein, vitamins and minerals from food alone. This may be because their medical condition causes them to use more nutrients than they can consume, they might experience swallowing difficulties, or they might not be able to absorb their nutrition from food. This could result in weight loss or undernutrition, making medical nutrition a practical choice.
Why haven't you heard of Nestlé Health Science before?
We are proud to work directly with healthcare professionals in our NHS, offering our products to help support the people under their care. You cannot buy our Medical Nutrition products in shops as they need to be used under medical supervision.
We also continually work with healthcare professionals to conduct clinical research and case studies to understand the use of tube feeds with patients living with a variety of conditions to monitor trends and continually improve our products.
Nestlé Health Science supports Feeding Tube Awareness Week (7th – 11th February 2022)
The mission of Feeding Tube Awareness Week is to 'promote the positive benefits of feeding tubes as life-saving medical interventions.'
Food plays an important role in everyone's life, yet it's something most of us take for granted.
According to the BAPEN BANS report in 2011, an estimated 16,982 children and over 26,600 adults receive home tube feeding1. This means they receive their nutrition through a feeding tube, either directly into their stomach or sometimes through their nose and into their stomach.
Many of us might pass through life with little to no awareness of tube feeding, what it involves and the impact it can have on someone's life. For those who are tube fed, it can become the focal point in their lives and sometimes means adjustments in their work/school, hobbies, activities, and holidays. Plus, it is something for their family and friends to adapt to.
A number of different factors will make up the decision to feed a patient through a tube rather than orally. Eating and drinking orally is always the goal but is not always possible.
Someone might be tube fed because:
- They are in intensive care - for example those depending on a ventilator
- They have experienced trauma or an injury, or might be in an induced coma, so can’t eat or drink
- They have a long-term neurological condition (such as cerebral palsy) and can’t manage to eat much food every day
- They have a food disorder, such as avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) which is where a child is extremely fussy and refuses food, meaning they do not get the right balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, and calories etc. for healthy development.
Tube feeding can start from birth, or it can be introduced later in life. Finding the perfect feed is not always easy.
Sometimes, formulas can cause gut symptoms (also known as intolerance) meaning people experience vomiting, gagging, retching, diarrhea, constipation, and stomach pain. Every person has different energy and protein needs, so their dietitian will calculate what these are to select a feed with the right balance that does not cause tummy upsets.
Nestlé Health Science has more than 30 years of experience of developing specialist tube feed formulas and understands just how challenging someone's tube feeding journey can be.
We have a range of feeds with tolerance at the heart of each and every product. Whether that's thanks to easier-to-digest proteins (known as whey peptides) or the inclusion of food-derived ingredients, our aim is to help people minimise the time feeling unwell and get back to what they love doing the most.
For an insight into the life of those managing tube feeding within their family, visit the new Talking Tube Feeding website for stories and experiences, support, guidance and more.
Keep reading in the days to come as we share more tube feeding information in our blog series.
1 BAPEN. BANS: Annual BANS Report, 2011; Artificial Nutrition Support in the UK 2000-2010. 2011. Available at https://www.bapen.org.uk/pdfs/bans_reports/bans_report_11.pdf