You might be eating your lunch or a snack as you read this. You might have a sandwich and chips, a salad or a chewy bagel and cream cheese. You’re probably not even thinking about what you’re doing, simply chewing, swallowing and enjoying your food. But what if you had difficulty swallowing? What if you had to carefully think through every bite? What if it hurt to swallow and breathing while eating left you choking for air? What if the effort was so great you didn’t want to eat?
This is what happens when you have a serious medical condition called dysphagia – difficulty swallowing – that makes eating a chore and moving food from mouth to stomach close to impossible. This causes huge problems; we need nutritious foods to live.
Healthcare professionals in acute care facilities as well as long-term care facilities struggle to deliver nutrition to individuals with dysphagia every day, working to find and prepare foods people can eat. Dysphagia can occur at any age, but it’s more common in older adults. This contributes to adult malnutrition, which in turn leads to other health issues.
Now, a global organization, the International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative (IDDSI), is working to improve the lives of those with dysphagia and support the efforts of caregivers to deliver proper nutrition. Composed of dietitians, speech pathologists, food scientists, physicians, occupational therapists, engineers, and nurses, these individuals have come together to create the IDDSI dietary framework to make it easier to identify, label, and ultimately deliver nutrition to those with dysphagia.
This framework includes different “levels” of foods that are clearly identified with colored and numbered triangles. These levels range from thin (level 0) to extremely thick (level 4) to regular (level 7). Food manufacturers are encouraged to adopt the IDDSI standards and labeling if their products are tested and meet the new standards.
Thrive Ice Cream for healthcare was developed to meet specific medical conditions such as dysphagia. Our nutritional ice cream melts to a “nectar” consistency, which makes it easy to swallow. Using the new IDDSI framework, Thrive is a Level 2 or “Mildly Thick.” (Find more information here.)
Because of our commitment to supporting dietitians and other healthcare professionals in their efforts to provide all patients with appropriate, beneficial nutrition, Thrive is implementing the IDDSI standards on our labels and literature.
It’s a natural fit for our product as our ice cream delivers a nutritious blend of Real® dairy protein, 24 vitamins and minerals, live probiotics, and natural fiber. Additionally, Thrive contains no HFCS, no palm oil, no fillers, and no artificial flavors or colors. Thrive is kosher, gluten free and appropriate for those on a low lactose diet. We also offer a no sugar added vanilla for those on low sugar diets or who have diabetes. From a patient’s perspective, Thrive is real ice cream and tastes good. See Thrive’s nutritional facts here.
It is our hope that more companies will adopt the IDDSI’s new standards as Thrive has done so that eating becomes easier, more beneficials, and more pleasurable for those suffering from dysphagia and their caregivers. If you would like to discuss this important topic with a Thrive food scientist, please contact us at Info@ThriveIceCream.com.