Speech therapists / pathologists in Singapore and around the world assess swallowing with different fluids or diet consistencies. Once the swallowing assessment is carried out, speech therapists will usually prescribe diet and fluids consistencies that are suitable / safer based on the assessment findings. When thickened fluids are recommended, caregiver training on thickening of fluids to the recommended consistency will usually be performed.
One of the common challenges faced by many speech therapists, nurses and caregivers is thickening of nutritional supplement with thickener. I did a search online and found out from the Resource ® ThickenUp® Clear official website (https://www.thickenupclear.com/products/resource-thickenup-clear) that it takes milk and oral nutrition supplements up to 15 minutes to reach desired consistency. It is just too time consuming to prepare thickened supplement.
I might have a way to speed up the thickening of nutritional supplements!
Many years ago, I did a project for a nutritional company in Singapore on thickening of nutritional supplement using Xanthan gum thickener (the brand that I was using in the project was Nestle Resource ® ThickenUp® Clear). I came out with the following “Manual Shake” method to thicken up the nutritional supplement (** However, this method does not work on fruit juice-based supplement). I did a quick search on google but could not find any and not sure if any speech therapists / any institutions in the world are using this method.
We have used this method to thicken up supplement in some hospitals and it has successfully reduced the timing of thickened supplement preparation time. With this method, thickening of supplement process can be achieved within 2 minutes. The thickened supplement remains stable even after 10 minutes. In the following videos (taken in 2015), I show the process of thickening of Nestle Resource 2.0 and Nestle Isocal to honey consistency (moderately thick consistency) and the consistency remains stable after 5 minutes or longer. For Nestle Resource 2.0 and Nestle Isocal, I followed the thickener dosage as listed on Nestle Resource ® ThickenUp® Clear can or dosage chart: https://www.thickenupclear.com/products/resource-thickenup-clear
You can try to use this ‘Manual Shake’ method to thicken up other nutritional supplement but the thickness might vary. I would suggest to trial and error to find out the amount of thickener required for the nutritional supplement(s) that you are using in your hospital. For patient(s) who intend to use this method to thicken up your supplement, please consult your speech therapist/pathologist for advice on the consistency and the amount of thickener powder that might be required.
As the video was done in 2015, I did not do an IDDSI (International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative) flow test on the texture. We just started following IDDSI standard in Singapore and we are planning to conduct another research on this soon. For speech therapists, or dietitian or healthcare professionals who would like to ensure that the texture meet the IDDSI standard, I would suggest that you perform your own IDDSI flow test and I would be grateful if you could share with me or others. You may email me at email@example.com and I would be most happy to post it on my blog.
I collaborated with the nurses in St Luke’s Hospital, Singapore to run a project on thickening of nutritional supplement and the project won 2 quality improvement award and the research poster was presented the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare, Taipei in 2019.
Jose, R., Rendom, J., Yoon, W.L., Abillar, L., Low, P.S., Su, A.Q., (2019 September). New Practices in Thickener Mixing for Effective Care. Poster session presented at c
- Agency for Intergrated Care (AIC) Quality Improvement Award (2018)
- St Luke’s Hospital Clinical Quality Improvement Merit Award (2017)
Here are the steps to thicken up nutritional supplement (non-juice based supplement):
- Measure the amount of supplement in a measuring bottle (I would recommend to use a measuring bottle or cup with cover that allows you to shake and serve / drink from)
- Mix the amount of thickening powder (Xanthan Gum) required as your stir the supplement.
- For Nestle Resource 2.0 and Nestle Isocal, I follow the thickener dosage as listed on Nestle Resource ® ThickenUp® Clear can or dosage chart: https://www.thickenupclear.com/products/resource-thickenup-clear
- Yes, the way I mix it is different as compared to the method recommended by Nestle Resource ® ThickenUp® Clear. Either way of mixing is fine. The reason I mix it the way I did was because it is not easy to ensure that the cup is always dry and pouring in thickener powder into wet cup might cause clump formation.
- Cover the bottle / cup and shake it for approximately 2 minutes. *You will feel the gradual thickening up and the slowing of flow of the supplement as your shake the mixture.
- Open up the cover and serve / drink. Please ensure safety in drinking the thickened supplement by following the strategies that have been recommended by your speech therapist/pathologist.
I hope you will find this ‘manual shake’ supplement thickening method useful. Please like and share with your friends and others so that the information will reach to those who might needs it.
I will post more useful information on dysphagia from time to time. Please follow my blog and like my Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SGSwallowingSpecialists/
Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Disclaimer: When choosing food thickeners or nutritional supplements/beverages, please consult with your speech therapist/pathologist or dietitian or health care professional as to what product is appropriate for your individual needs, as consistencies vary between nutritional supplements and manufacturers. As this method is not tested using IDDSI method, health care professionals who would like to adopt this method are encouraged to perform IDDSI flow test to ensure that the thickened supplement(s) of different brands meet the standard.