Post-operative gastric cancer patients receiving enteral nutrition often suffer from diarrhoea, which usually impedes their recovery and prolongs their hospital stay.
In order to investigate how fibre and probiotics might reduce the incidence of diarrhoea associated with enteral nutrition, researchers from Sichuan University conducted an RCT involving 120 post-operative gastric cancer patients, all of whom were given enteral nutrition formulas daily for a week after surgery.
They randomly divided the patients into three groups: the first was given a fibre-free nutrition formula, the second a fibre-enriched nutrition formula, and the last a fibre- and probiotic-enriched nutrition formula.
The researchers subsequently observed that the incidence of diarrhoea was higher among patients in the fibre-free group than in the fibre-enriched group.
No significant difference between the fibre-enriched and fibre- and probiotic-enriched group was found.
However, the group that had taken the fibre- and probiotic enriched nutrition formula had fewer intestinal disorders.
In terms of hospitalisation duration, patients in the fibre-free group tended to stay hospitalised for longer than the rest of the patients, though no significant difference was seen between the other two groups.
Blockages and barriers
Though the study's results suggested that a combined intake of fibre and probiotics could alleviate diarrhoea and intestinal disorders in post-operative gastric cancer patients, the researchers also acknowledged its several limitations.
Its small sample size, eschewing of a double-blind trial (to avoid the loss of samples), and short observation time could have affected the study results, especially in the area of the patients' nutritional status.
Still, the researchers concluded: "The use of both fibre and probiotics should be considered when initiating enteral nutrition to avoid diarrhoea that is associated with enteral nutrition, provide comfort for post-operative patients, and enhance patient recovery after surgery."
"Effects of fiber and probiotics on diarrhea associated with enteral nutrition in gastric cancer patients: A prospective randomized and controlled trial"
Authors: Rui Zhao, et al.