What is complementary feeding?



When suffering a process of malnutrition, it may be necessary to include nutrients through supplementary feeding, in order to monitor intake. What is this about?

On some occasions, it may be necessary to introduce complementary feeding, either because of a digestion or swallowing problem or because of an inefficient supply of nutrients through the diet. This situation usually occurs in older adults or in those who suffer from some pathology affecting the digestive tract.

Next, we are going to tell you what this type of food consists of so that you have an idea of what products to choose and how important it is to guide it properly. Do not forget that the nutrition professional or the doctor is the only one able to advise the beginning of this dietary protocol. Starting it without their approval can cause damage to your health.

Cancer complementary feeding

Digestive tract cancer patients may have problems swallowing food, especially when tumors are located in the throat or oral cavity. In this situation, it is necessary to administer a complementary feeding in the form of a shake, trying to incorporate all the nutrients that the subject needs to continue with his vital functions.

When choosing a dietary product for the cancer patient, one must resort to a type of formula without sugars and with few or no carbohydrates. This is because the ketogenic diet has been shown to be effective in treating the disease according to research published in Recent Results in Cancer Research, which states that it is capable of slowing tumor growth and improving the effects of chemotherapy.

In addition, it is vital that the formula contains high doses of vitamin D and C. Both nutrients help reduce the inflammatory state and the production of free radicals, which is a turning point in the treatment of tumor processes, as stated in a study published in the journal Biochemical Society Transactions.

Complementary feeding for the elderly

Another situation in which complementary feeding can be introduced is in the case of the elderly. Many times, these subjects do not manage to incorporate all the nutrients they need through a solid diet, since inappetence and lack of taste can condition food consumption.

In these cases, it is necessary to choose a shake that, in addition to having a powerful flavor to stimulate the taste, is slightly hypercaloric. It is not a question of provoking an increase of weight in the old man, but of covering his caloric requirements. Otherwise, a process of malnutrition could be incurred that would end up with the development of pathologies that would put their lives in danger.

The last of the cases we are going to comment on is that of malnourished adults. Sometimes, a subject can suffer a process of malnutrition, either due to a pathological cause or due to the impossibility of getting food. Be that as it may, once reached this point, it is necessary to be meticulous with the diet.

In order to incorporate the required nutrients, the option of introducing complementary feeding can be used. However, in this type of circumstance, it is necessary to increase the caloric load in a very gradual way.


Otherwise, one could experience the re-feeding syndrome, which causes hypokalemia - that is, a low level of potassium in the blood - capable of causing death. The most adequate thing is that these problems are managed by a health professional, to prevent inefficiencies in the supply of nutrients.

Complementary feeding, a dietary resource

The introduction of nutrients in liquid form is a strategy that goes beyond the sports context. It is possible to use complementary feeding also in adult subjects with or without pathologies, in order to maximize the contribution of nutrients or to improve the management of some diseases.

However, it is important to always consult a nutritionist before making this decision. It should be taken into account that always consuming the nutrients through liquids or shakes can condition the enzymatic production at an intestinal level, which is a problem in many situations.

The optimal thing is to propose a balanced diet based on the consumption of solid food. However, on certain occasions this is not possible, so complementary feeding is an effective way of avoiding nutrient deficiencies and improving health. It can even be useful to manage pathologies such as cancer, in which increasing the contribution of some substances and reducing that of others presents advantages.