In a clinical study of 652 malnourished adults aged ≥65 years, a specialized oral nutrition supplement was linked to a 50% lower death rate 90 days after hospitalization. The study was published in Clinical Nutrition

NOURISH (Nutrition effect On Unplanned ReadmIssions and Survival in Hospitalized patients) was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that enrolled patients suffering from heart or lung disease. One group was given the specialized nutrition supplement, which contained high protein (20g), HMB (β-hydroxy β-methylbutyrate) and vitamin D, while another group was given a placebo. The researchers then compared the rates of readmission or death 90 days following discharge among the two separate groups.

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Although the hospital readmission and death rates between the specialized supplement and placebo were similar (26.8% vs. 31.1%, respectively), the analysis found that those who received the supplement had: 

  • A significantly lower (50%) death rate that began at 30 days and continued for 90 days after patients left the hospital.
  • Improvements in other health outcomes including body weight, nutritional status and Vitamin D levels at 30 and 60 days after leaving the hospital, and continued body weight and nutritional status improvements at 90 days. 

“This is more proof that we need to change the standard and include nutrition as an integral part of care, much like flu shots or aspirin, to help older adults who already have or are at risk for malnutrition and chronic illness,” said Nicolaas E. Deutz, MD, PhD, of Texas A&M University, and lead author of the study.

The supplements used in the study—protein, HMB and Vitamin D—are all known for their ability to repair and rebuild muscle, highlighting the rebuilding of muscle mass as a crucial part of disease recovery. The commercial version of the specialized nutrition supplement used in the study will be available later this year, as Ensure Enlive.

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