Dysphagia is a condition that causes trouble swallowing food and liquid. While it can develop on its own, it’s often a symptom of a more serious underlying health condition. Some people with dysphagia find it impossible to swallow some food or liquid, and there is often an increased risk of choking. Seniors are more likely to develop dysphagia, although anybody can develop symptoms at any age due to an underlying condition, surgery or medication. Malnutrition and sudden weight loss can be one of the main and most serious symptoms of this condition as it makes it impossible for the patient to eat and get the nutrients they need. Keep reading for some tips on how to improve your nutrition and get what you need from your diet if you have dysphagia.
If aspiration is a problem for you, or you are often choking when drinking liquid due to it getting into your airways and lungs rather than being swallowed down the throat and into the stomach, then thickening products might help. You can add products like Simply Thick to various liquids to thicken the consistency and make it easier to swallow it correctly and safely. It can be added to any liquid from water to soups.
Mechanical Soft Diet
For many people with dysphagia, a mechanical soft diet is the best option to ensure that they are getting the nutrients that they need from their diet in a way that is safe and poses little risk of choking. A mechanical soft diet is often recommended by doctors and other health professionals. This involves eating foods that have been chopped into small pieces, mashed, cooked until soft, blended or pureed to make them easier to chew and swallow.
Protein shakes can be an ideal source of nutrition for people with dysphagia. Since the condition can make it harder to eat and swallow typical protein-rich foods such as meat, fish and poultry, a protein shake can be an ideal alternative, especially in people who are experiencing sudden and rapid weight loss as a result of struggling to swallow food.
Another option to consider is adding nutrient powders to blended foods or liquids. These can be dissolved in most foods, making it easier for somebody with dysphagia to be able to get the nutrients that they need in their diet. Multi-vitamin powders, spirulina, or hemp powder are all great options to add to blended or pureed food to improve the nutrient content.
Many foods that are rich in healthy fats are also smooth and easy to swallow for people with dysphagia. For example, avocado and Greek yogurt are both very high in healthy fats and are typically on the list of foods that are approved for a mechanical soft diet for somebody with dysphagia. They can be consumed on their own or added to other foods like soups or smoothies to improve the fat content and prevent unhealthy weight loss.
Problems with swallowing food can make it harder to get the right nutrients for your body. Thankfully, there are nutrient-dense foods and other products that can be added to your diet to improve your health.