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Thickened Food Products That Make Eating Easier

There is a subset of those that are challenged every time they try to eat or drink. Whether it involves crushing, blending, or straining a meal, those with conditions such as dysphagia, pulmonary aspiration, esophageal reflux or a feeding disorder can have a real struggle trying to stay nourished and hydrated.

Fortunately there are ways to thicken food so it is easier to eat and swallow. Using thickening food products that make eating easier have shown to potentially benefit nourishment. 

Thickened Food Products that make eating easier - SimplyThick Shown Here

As reported in Nursing Times (3/14),

  • Dysphagia puts people at risk of malnutrition, dehydration, choking and aspiration
  • Prescribed thickeners in food and fluid promotes safety and can enhance quality of life

Thickens food products could lead to a problem-free eating experience increasing overall nutrition and hydration.

Hydrocolloids

The technical name for congealing food additives is hydrocolloids. These are thickening and gelling agents made of long chain polymers used to enhance soups, gravies, salad dressings and more. Hydrocolloids are used in many conventional foods to extend shelf life and avoid compromise of food texture.

However, when those suffering from conditions such as dysphagia where swallowing becomes difficult or even painful, using a hydrocolloid such as SimplyThick® Thickening Gel,  could make a significant difference.

 

What to Look for in a Thickening Agent

Finding the proper thickening agent or pureed thickened food such as Thick-It Purees, Salisbury Steak or Thick-It Purees, Beef in Barbeque Sauce is essential, especially when catering to a dysphagia patient. These products offer great taste along with essential nutrients.

In the paper ‘Improving Patient Compliance With Dysphagia Diagnosis’ by Sharyl A. Samargia, PhD, CCC-SLP, published in Today's Geriatric Medicine (Vol. 9 No. 1 P. 5), thickening food is described,

To alleviate human error, medical nutrition companies began marketing beverages that come pre-thickened or ready to pour. These beverages maintain their viscosity over time and are convenient for the consumer. The pre-thickened beverage can be added to a number of products, making it very versatile.

It is important to make sure that a chosen thickening agent complies to nutritional and satiety standards.

Some basic considerations include:

  • No aftertaste, powders, or lumps
  • Low in carbohydrates and sodium
  • Info that it caters to dysphagia patients
  • Recommended by a Registered Dietitian
  • No artificial flavors, dyes, or preservatives
  • Easy to prepare via ready-to-eat, microwave or stove top
  • High protein and potassium content (must be medically cleared)
  • Is connected to good reviews on website or unbiased recommendations

The Importance of Thickened Food Education

Incorporating thickened foods into a diet of a patient that may be at risk for malnutrition or dehydration due to swallowing difficulty is essential. One of the major considerations however, is offering the proper education when it comes to administering these foods. Some studies show the lack of effectiveness of thickened foods due to minimal education when it comes to proper dietary compliance. Uneducated caretakers in this realm could put a patient at risk of malnutrition and dehydration by not administering a strict dietary schedule when using thickened foods.

For example, if a patient is too full from these thickened food meals not being far enough apart they will stop eating properly and therefore lose the window for essential nutritional delivery.

Dr. Samargia concluded in her paper in this regard, stating,

While timely identification and intervention are imperative in dysphagia management, more emphasis must be placed on improving patient compliance through continued efforts to make thickened liquids more palatable, accessible, and affordable for individuals with dysphagia. Additionally, medical facilities need to recognize the overall health and economic impact of patient compliance. Continued contributions to this line of research will offer compelling information to reduce the adverse health effects and reduced quality of life in individuals with dysphagia.

Thickened food products that make eating easier can certainly increase nutrition as well as overall health. Incorporating these foods with the guidance of a medical professional can open up a whole new world of taste and satiety for patient’s challenged by swallowing disorders.

Written by Alicia Lam Taracido 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3551143/

http://www.todaysgeriatricmedicine.com/archive/JF16p5.shtml

https://www.nursingtimes.net/clinical-archive/respiratory/use-of-fluid-thickener-to-reduce-dysphagia-risk/5068934.article

 

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