NOVEL TECHNOLOGY to enhance DIETARY SOLUTIONS for people with DYSPHAGIA.
PROBLEM: There are an estimated 45 million people across Europe and 16 million across the USA who struggle to chew and swallow with normal function (dysphagia). Eating and drinking to obtain adequate energy, nutrition and hydration is a daily challenge. Food items are broken down (blending and diluting) and then thickened to alter the consistency for safe ingestion to avoid/minimise choking, drooling, coughing, asphyxiation pneumonia and even mortality. Current methods results in vegetables and proteins (meat/fish) comprising a 'meal' with low taste and visual appeal (more like baby food) and diluted nutritional values with issues around medicine bioavailability, consistency instability and dehydration. Dysphagia is said to affect up to 27% elderly people living in the community, up to 70% of those living in care homes and around 30% across the hospital setting - yet there are limited opportunities to obtain/prepare suitable, appealing food/drink options and so for many, simply not eating is the next best alternative.
SoftBite is developing a technology that should improve the sensory, digestibility,nutritional and stability quality of soft textured food for people with dysphagia and interrelated conditions such as sarcopenia, frailty and malnutrition in recognition that food and nutrition are key pillars to health, wellness and recovery. A collaborative project across healthcare, academia, food science and industry, we have the potential to develop solutions beneficial for both the European and US markets where research and development transformed into relevant and needs-filled commercial products, is lacking . Our aim is to advance targeted, consumer-centric development using innovative technologies, building on current and new research to produce SoftBite solutions that aid prevention, independence and quality of life for those who are otherwise food insecure.
Nutritious food is a fundamental need. Without it, we experience far reaching economic, psychological and physiological consequences such as malnutrition in all its forms (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency and overweight and obesity). Food systems are a key driver of malnutrition - it is well recognised that these systems need to be transformed to address etiological factors accelerating the demand for more specific food and nutrition to maintain, prevent, treat and positively influence quality of life for so many people with varying food and nutrition needs.