Background: While consent exists, that nutritional status has prognostic impact in the critically ill, the optimal feeding strategy has been a matter of debate. Methods: Narrative review of the recent evidence and international guideline recommendations focusing on basic principles of nutrition in the ICU and the treatment of specific patient groups. Covered topics are: the importance and diagnosis of malnutrition in the ICU, the optimal timing and route of nutrition, energy and protein requirements, the supplementation of specific nutrients, as well as monitoring and complications of a Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT). Furthermore, this review summarizes the available evidence to optimize the MNT of patients grouped by primarily affected organ system. Results: Due to the considerable heterogeneity of the critically ill, MNT should be carefully adapted to the individual patient with special focus on phase of critical illness, metabolic tolerance, leading symptoms, and comorbidities. Conclusion: MNT in the ICU is complex and requiring an interdisciplinary approach and frequent reevaluation. The impact of personalized and disease-specific MNT on patient-centered clinical outcomes remains to be elucidated.
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