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How To Thicken Liquids



9 Comments On “How To Thicken Liquids

  1. Akanksha Reply

    I live in India and have come across your brilliant website. My dad has recently had a lacunar infarct (on 1/29/2016) after which he was put on nasogastric tube feeding. He can now take soft/pureed food but still not ok with swallowing water. Please can you recommend therapy or diet for him? Thanks in advance !!!

    1. Laura Michael Reply

      Akanksha, it is important to get advice from your father’s speech therapist as to how to get hyrdation. If you received the okay for pureed and soft foods, what were you told about his beverages? Was he prescribed thickened liquids by his speech therapist? If he was not prescribed thickened liquids, how is he supposed to get hydration? If he was prescribed thickened liquids, what consistency? Did the speech therapist mention a “free water protocol”? If not, ask her/him about it. In the meantime, thinner purees can assist in hydration. Make sure that his pureed foods are not too thick and dry. Add a sauce when you can because sauces can assist in hydration.

      As for diet, it is important that your dad gets good, all around, nutrition and Indian food is some of the most nutrient dense food on the planet! Fruits and vegetables are easy to puree, are easy to eat, are nutrient dense and are full of natural water. Make sure you dad gets a minimum seven servings of vibrantly-colored fruits and vegetables each day. If he is taking Warferin or other blood thinners, avoid dark green vegetables, as they work against blood thinners. If you have specific questions about his diet and medication interactions, please request a consultation with a Registered Dietitian.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Gayle Reply

    My husband really has a difficult time with the texture and the taste of the thickened liquids and is not keeoping hydrated. He is currently in the hospital and the flavor options are not great. He was served cranberry juice and milk yesterday and had about three sips of each. Which option that you showed would be the best at not changing the taste of the liquid? He loves iced tea and orange juice and grape juice. Thanks

    1. Laura Michael Reply

      Gayle, I prefer using a gum-based thickener like ThickenUp Clear and Thick & Easy Clear for all thickened beverages. You can find both thickeners for sale online at Amazon, CVS.com, Walgreens.com and sometimes in your local pharmacy.

      I have found that my clients drink significantly more beverages when you do the following things:

      1. Use a “clear”, gum-based, thickener. They don’t have a pasty taste and texture.

      2. Thicken to the proper consistency. If the speech therapist prescribes a “nectar” or “honey” thick liquid, make sure it is no thicker.

      3. Serve thickened beverages at the correct temperature. Serve cold beverages cold and hot beverages hot. Beverages taste better when they are not at room temperature but, more importantly, the cold/hot temperature will stimulate the swallowing reflex.

      4. You can make ice cubes with a gum-based thickener and use them in his cold beverages so they stay cold. DO NOT MAKE ICE CUBES WITH STARCH-BASED THICKENERS. If you want the recipe/protocol for frozen treats and ice cubes, check-out my article on “perfectly safe popsicles”.

      5. You can thicken grape juice and orange juice at home, chill them and bring it to him in the hospital. WHEN THICKENING ORANGE JUICE, USE A PULP-FREE ORANGE JUICE. PULP CAN EASILY BE ASPIRATED, SO AVOID JUICES WITH PULP.

      6. Keep in mind that soups and sauces can help add hydration, so encourage your husband to eat his soup and ask for sauces for his food.

      Hope this helps!

  3. Rachel Hanberry Reply

    Prethicken liquids may also be more palatable. Prethickened juices, milk, tea, coffee, and water are available from Nestle/Resource and Hormel.
    Simply Thick is another gel bases thickener which you may find to be more palatable and mixes well and maintains fluid consistency without separation issues.
    When preparing thicken drinks:
    mix 4 ounces at a time rather than larger amount – can be consumed while still cold;
    use ice cold water -freshly melted ice:
    Mix small amount of “flavor” enhancer in water before mixing – store flavor enhancer in refridgrator, try using purchased flavored water, or mix a small amount of favorite juice in water be more mixing.
    When mixing with any of the thickeners, shake rather than stirring. I have found that even the cornstarch thickeners mix better “shaken not stirred” 😊
    Remember even sauces and gravy need to be thickened to prescribed thickness.
    Hope this is helpful:; and wishing your husband a speedy recovery !

    1. Laura Michael, NFOSD Treasurer (volunteer) Reply

      If you plan to drink the thickened liquid immediately, then thicken only 4 ounces. Otherwise, mix in cold liquids in bulk and keep thickened liquids refrigerated and pour only what you intend to drink immediately. The key is to “keep cold liquids cold, and hot liquids hot”.

  4. Emmie Reply

    I have found that thickened liquids become thicker as they sit, sometimes even forming globs. The thickened water sticks to my mom’s throat and mouth and throat making her choke which defeats the purpose of using it. I am very discouraged.

    1. Laura Michael, NFOSD Treasurer (volunteer) Reply

      Hello Emmie. If you are using a starch thickener, like ThickIt, they will, indeed continue to thicken over time.

      My best advice is to switch to a “clear” thickener like ThickenUp Clear, Thick & Easy Clear, ThickIt Clear Advantage or Simply Thick. “Clear” thickeners not only make beverages clear, they do not continue to thicken over time.

      “Clear” thickeners also do not have the pasty taste of a starch thickener so my clients enjoy their beverages more so they have better hydration.

      In my experience, beverages thickened with clear thickeners tend to slide down the throat easier, while maintaining the cohesive bolus necessary to clear the epiglottis.

      Often, beverages continue to thicken because you have used too much thickener. All thickeners take three to five minutes to hydrate completely. Give the thickener time to work before you give the beverage to your mom. For convenience and safety, I recommend thickening a quart of water with a clear thickener and keeping the water refrigerated so it is available to grab-and-go when you need it. If you find that the water is thicker than you require, you can always add a little more water, shake or stir it in, to get it to the proper consistency.

      Look for the word “Clear” on the label when you shop for your thickener. You may have to purchase a clear thickener on-line as they are not commonly available in a grocery store or pharmacy.

      Hope that helps!

  5. Robin Alexander Reply

    my husband is 92 years old and I myself looking up about his symptoms obviously has Dysphlagia? he in beginning had sticky glue like saliva for a few months which was horrific for him! and me! who cares for him(I am 80 years of age shortly) that has gone but still has this swallow problem and even water at times just gets back throat and he spits out? have tried everything? puree foods baby foods baby cereals but to no avail sadly! occasional days he swallows better but mostly even with Sustagen he spits a lot of that at times! naturally although only ever a slim man he has lost lot weight? now his voice is very hoarse and weak? and I feel depressed at times that I am starving him? which is not true I know! but of all things to die literally of starvation is awful future and one feels powerless ! Sadly not many people are aware of this complaint either?

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