Choke-Proof Food: New Kind Of Food For The Elderly

As the Earth population is getting older, with certain countries experiencing the problem to a greater extent than others, the need for a solution to avoid deaths following choking arises. In Japan, food manufacturers seem to have developed an approach that enabled them to introduce choke-proof food that is easier to swallow and does not cease to be mouth-watering.

Image Credit: fpcj.jp

When eating your meal is a challenge

The novelty in question is called engay food. The word is Japanese, and it means “swallowing”; the food name refers to the key purpose of producing such food – to prevent choking.

Choking is common in the elderly, and there are many physical causes. The corresponding medical term is dysphagia, and it’s diagnosed in about fifteen percent of the elderly living at their own homes, and in up to the whopping forty percent of those who live at facilities for the elderly who need long-term care. It can be caused by Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart failure, taking certain medicines, and so on.

It is no wonder that it is Japanese scientists who invented engay food, because there are many people who are already old there (about a quarter of the total amount!), and even traffic accident victims are not as numerous as those who fall victim to choking.

When swallowing turns into challenge, many people have to give up eating and use a special nanogastric feeding system to deliver food directly to the stomach.

Dysphagia is dangerous not only because it can lead to death due to choking, but also because small parts of food get into lungs, where bacteria travelling by food start multiplying. It results in pneumonia, a life-threatening condition. It is decline of muscular functions that prevents coughing reflexes and the elements of the swallowing system from working properly.

To address this issue, Japanese scientists from NUTRI, a company specializing in food solutions, introduced engay – a kind of food designed for those who have difficulty swallowing.

What is engay?

In fact, almost any kind of food can get the engay treatment. Take salmon fillet, for example. NUTRI has developed a way to turn it into an engay salmon dish: to do it, they blend the fillet, add a special substance in the form of a powder they developed which helps the puree to regain the food’s normal shape, add “grill” stripes, and here you go – the salmon gets choke-proof and ready to be eaten. The flavor is the same (or almost the same, as the texture changes), and the shape remains normal.

There are three conditions to make food as choke-proof as possible:

  1. Food must not be sticky.
  2. Food must be easy to clump together.
  3. Food must be rather soft.

Here the word “rather” matters, because if the food is too soft, it may get sticky and thus dangerous to the elderly.

Engay meets all the above mentioned requirements.

Since the innovative food is available mostly in Japan, with departments appearing in other countries, it may be a good idea to find a home-made engay food recipe book: NUTRI has already introduced several books of this kind to help those who have difficulty eating and their caregivers. It’s not known yet when the product is going to hit the global market, but you can find such recipes and cook your own DIY engay dishes!

The product can also help special healthcare facilities for the elderly avoid using feeding systems and help the elderly attend dinner meetings again – it’s the conversation that can help them feel better too, so having another opportunity to eat yourself can have both physical and psychological impacts.

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