Importance of Nutrition on Patient Health

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion


Nutrition is defined as “the process of taking food into the body and absorbing the nutrients in those foods.” ( The intake of sufficient nutrients and a varied diet plays a vital role in an individual’s overall well-being, the reduction in the susceptibility of illnesses as well as recovery from ill health ( Nevertheless, malnutrition is becoming a major source for concern in many acute hospital settings due to a notably poor focus on the documentation and surveillance of patient nutrition (Pedersen et al., 2019). With an approximate of 1 in 3 of Irish patients alone susceptible to malnutrition whilst undergoing medical treatments ( it is evident that there is a prevalence of inadequate nutritional care in Irish hospitals. Therefore, this study will review specifically the importance of nutrition to the patient with regard to overall health and recovery.

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It is a well-established fact that good nutrition and a varied diet are essential in order to promote sound health and healing. However, malnutrition is a growing challenge, particularly amongst elderly patients in many healthcare settings for reasons such as excessive perioperative fasting, the inability to sufficiently chew or swallow whole foods (Department of Health, 2009), insufficient healthcare members to aid with feeding as well as the poor documentation of food intake. This often results in prolonged hospitalisation and decreased body mass, patients are also up to 30% more at risk of acquiring mental disabilities such as depression due to malnutrition (Barker et al., 2011).

In addition to this, poor nutrition in hospitals can also have detrimental effects on patient recovery due to increased susceptibility to infection as a result of a compromised immune system as well as a decrease in mobility and strength due to a reduction in body mass (NT Contributor, 2009). Many studies suggest that poor nutrition also hinders adequate wound healing due to the increased risk of infection as well as a reduction in the effectiveness of cellular mechanisms (Brown and Phillips, 2010) which contribute to rapid healing and repair. Furthermore, it is vital that early detection and prevention strategies are implemented in acute hospital settings in order to combat malnutrition.

The HSE denotes that best practice guidelines indicate that all convalescents admitted to hospitals should be screened within 24 hours of arrival in order rule out the risk of the patient becoming malnourished whilst undergoing treatments (Health information and quality authority, 2016). However, it is evident that such recommendations are not being adhered to with one study stating that 53% of healthcare workers were incapable of calculating patient energy requirements whilst a further 39% were incompetent in identifying symptoms of malnourishment in their patients (Mowe et al., 2008) suggesting that healthcare staff were lacking knowledge in relation to nutritional care.


From this study it is evident that there is a plausible link between good nutrition and patient health and recovery. In conclusion, despite continuous suggestions and proposals made by the Health Service Executive (HSE) it is clear that physical changes need to be implemented within the hospital setting with regard to nutritional care and knowledge in order to promote superior patient satisfaction as well as overall well-being.

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