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Helpful Solutions

Helpful solutions

From various types of food and liquid thickeners to pre-prepared options, there is a wide range of solutions to texture modify a diet available for someone living with dysphagia. Find out which solution may be right for you.

Thickening agents

Thickeners, or thickening agents, are added to foods and liquids to make them thicker. These thickeners can be used in beverages as well as added to pureed foods to help create a uniform texture. Thickeners come in both powdered and liquid forms. In Canada, the two most common types of thickeners are starch based and xanthan gum based.

ThickenUp® Clear from Nestlé Health Science is an example of a xanthan gum-based thickening powder.

thickenup image
Why use a xanthan gum thickener?

Xanthan gum thickener creates a clear mixture when added to water. See for yourself in the comparison below.

  • Xanthan gum thickener powders are tasteless and odourless. Try some water thickened with xanthan gum powder and water thickened with a starch-based thickener, and you’ll notice the difference immediately.
  • Xanthan gum powders are stable, meaning they do not continue to thicken the prepared food or beverage over time once the desired thickness is reached. Starch based thickeners, however, can continue to thicken prepared food.
  • Xanthan gum thickener has a special property called “amylase resistance.” This means that liquids thickened with xanthan gum do not change their thickness in the presence of saliva in your mouth. Saliva contains an enzyme (called amylase) that can break down starch and cause your starch-thickened beverage to become thin in your mouth.
  • Xanthan gum thickener does not contribute significant dietary carbohydrate or calories making it suitable for people who are managing their carbohydrate or caloric intake.
Powder vs. liquid xanthan gum thickeners

There are two forms of xanthan gum thickeners available: powders and liquid thickeners. Both thickeners are suitable for modifying the consistency of beverages. Consider the following when choosing one that’s right for you:

  • Powdered and liquid xanthan gum thickeners require different mixing techniques, so be sure to follow the instructions carefully when preparing yours.
  • Powdered and liquid xanthan gum thickeners have different effects on taste. Xanthan gum powders are mostly tasteless, while some liquid xanthan gum thickeners may introduce a slight sour taste into the food or beverage it is mixed in.

Pre-thickened beverages

For times when you’d like a pre-thickened beverage for a quick drink or for when you are not at home, there are several options available in different consistencies. Ask your healthcare professional about what thickened beverage options may be right for you and where you might find them.

Ready-to-eat texture-modified foods

Much like with pre-thickened beverages, there are options for ready-to-eat texture-modified foods available, which are often available in grocery stores. Ask your healthcare professional whether you require texture-modified foods and where you might find them.

Nestlé Health Science has made every effort to include on this website only information that it believes to be accurate and reliable. Information provided on this site is for education purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice or instruction of your healthcare professionals, or to substitute medical care. Contact a qualified healthcare professional if you have questions or issues about what is best for you as you manage your swallowing difficulties at home.

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