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Food texture will become a growing consideration over the next 20 years with an estimated population of more than one billion people over the age of 60, a new paper suggests.
Yet, changing food texture can affect nutrients in foods, Dr Julie Cichero, University of Queensland, wrote in the Journal of Texture Studies.
Adding nutrient-dense moistening ingredients like milk, cream or butter and making foods with soft, easily broken fibres should all be key considerations for manufacturers targeting our ageing population.
Dr Cichero noted that swallowing difficulties caused by dry mouth, reduced muscular strength, dental loss and reduced laryngopharyngeal sensitivity can occur as a result of age.
“Taken in combination these factors mean that food textures prescribed to the elderly need to be soft and moist and for fibres to be easily broken,” she said, adding the ideal bolus would be moist, cohesive and slippery.
“To improve moisture content, additional nutrient dense products (such as milk, cream or butter) may be required to artificially moisten the bolus.”
However, the aim is not only safety – food appeal and nutritional value is also crucial. Finding a range of ‘swallow safe’ textures to make food appealing, yet palatable and nutrient-dense is key, Dr Cichero added.
“Careful, individualized attention to diet recommendations will result in a diet that is appealing and also provide a variety of textures that are swallow-safe and nutrient dense,” she said.
The ideal bolus
The ideal bolus is homogenous in texture, though size and moisture content depends on the kind of food consumed.
Softer foods like banana can be tolerated with larger particle sizes, Dr Cichero said, though hard food stuffs generally need to be chewed until particles are smaller.
Since moisture content needs to be higher for the elderly, some foods are inherently riskier, for instance cereal-based foods which need around 50% moisture content to be palatable.
“The final swallow-safe bolus is soft, homogenous in texture, cohesive and slippery enough to allow ease of swallow initiation and swift transport through the pharynx,” Dr Cichero said.
Source: Wiley Online Library
Potentially serious drug interactions are a daily threat to older people who take multiple medications and supplements, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
One drug can affect the effectiveness of other drugs and how your body uses them. For example, your kidney and liver may not work as well, which affects how drugs are broken down and leave your body, the FDA said.
“There is no question that physiology changes as we age. Many chronic medical conditions don’t even appear until our later years,” Dr. Sandra Kweder, an FDA medical officer, said in an agency news release. “It’s not that people are falling to pieces; some changes are just part of the normal aging process.”
The FDA says these safety tips will help prevent harmful drug interactions or side effects:
“As a society, we have become reliant on pharmaceuticals to help us attain a longer and higher-quality life. It’s a wonderful success of Western medicine,” Kweder said. “The goal should be for each of us to access that benefit but respect that medicines are serious business. To get the most out of them, you should take them with great care and according to directions.”
Read more at Harvard Health Publications:
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
1-1/3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
5 egg whites
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp firmly packed light brown sugar
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and grated
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Maple Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt
Source: Williams-Sonoma Cookbook