Dysphagia in Stroke Victims
Texture Modified Foods are essential for a range of medical conditions and are a popular source of nutrition for Stroke Victims.
In this article, we take a look at how Ezy Foods can provide a healthy food option, after suffering a Stroke. We'll discuss the benefits of healthy eating and how to make the right choices?
Healthy eating is always important and the benefits are countless. In the case of suffering a Stroke, you medical practitioner may suggest some healthy eating options. But where the patient has difficulties swallowing, many of these foods could prove difficult to eat. This is where Texture Modified Meals offer a tasty and nutritious solution.
Of course, your meal choices after a stroke should always align with the recommendation of your doctor, speech pathologist, dietitian or physician.
In most cases foods such as Vegetables, Grain and Fruit win out, providing nutrients to aid recovery and improve general well being. Not to mention, Protein foods which are another crucial piece of a health diet.
The best Vegetables are the ones which are nutrient rich. A key indicator of vegetables rich in nutrients is colour. We find that Dark Greens or Deep Orange great colour signals. Peas are a favourite, a well as Broccoli and Spinach. Not forgetting Carrots and Dried Beans. Many vegetables such as Potatoes and Zucchini are rich in Potassium too, which has many health benefits. But after a Stroke, victims may have difficulty chewing or swallowing. In such cases texture modified meals are a common solution. Preparing these pureed or texture modified adult meals can take time and often require a carer. Thus texture modified ready to eat meals are the perfect solution and can be delivered to the door.
Fresh Fruit is both light and nourishing. Additionally, Frozen or Dried Fruit may also provide a great source of nutrition, as well as vitamins. Fruit such as Bananas, Apples, Apricots, Oranges, Cantaloupe are also an great source of Potassium. As mentioned, Potassium has many health benefits, including good heart function. Again, for many Stroke Victims, eating fruit can be difficult and where Dysphagia is a side effect. To combat swallowing issues, pureed and texture modified fruit is essential.
We obtain Protein through a variety of food options. Most common are Low-Fat meats such as Poultry and Fish. Other great sources of protein include nuts and seeds. Nut products should be discussed with your dietician, in case of allergies or reactions. While we find high levels of protein in red meats, butters, margarine, Lards and oils, these may also contain high concentrations of unwanted fats. It is wise to avoid these foods or consume in small amounts. The exception is quality Texture Modified Meals. They are usually prepared with fat reduced or eliminated completely.
Dairy is a great source of protein and calcium, but may also contain high levels of Fat. Thankfully there is a huge variety of Low-fat and Fat-free options available, straight off the supermarket shelf. You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to Diary.
Beware of excess Cholesterol
Firstly, lets be clear. Cholesterol is not all bad. In fact without Cholesterol, your body would not maintain its cells and organs. So in moderation, foods which contain or (are converted by our body into Cholesterol) are great. But when we ingest excess Cholesterol, it is the speed at which the body can dispel it that becomes a problem. Too much Cholesterol is not simply passed. It is instead deposited throughout the body's cardiovascular system. Cholesterol in your blood increases the risk of Stroke or Heart attack. Therefore moderation is key to limiting the possibility of future episodes.
In the foods we eat, Cholesterol is more prominent in animal products. Meats, Cheese, Butter, Egg Yolks and alas, Ice Cream often contain the highest concentrations of Cholesterol. These identify as Saturated or Trans Fats and we will talk about how to identify these shortly. But before we do, lets take a look at some easy ways to substitute foods, rich in Saturated Fats.
Saturated Fat substitutes
- Butter. Substitute butter for Light or Diet Margarine's
- Milk. Low Fat Skimmed Milks or even better No Fat Milks are ideal.
- Eggs. The Yoke is where we find the fat, so stick to the egg Whites where possible.
- Cheese. Again Low Fat or even no Fat Cheeses are available at most Super Markets.
- Icecream. Non-Fat Icecream is one option, but maybe substitute with Sorbet or Low Fat Yogurts.
- Sauces and Mayos. Try to avoid Cream Sauces where possible or choose the low Fat options. Vegetable and Olive Oil based sauces are another great way to avoid Fat too. (See Trans Fats for Vegetable Oils)
- Meats. Avoid fatty meats such as Lamb and Pork. Beef isn't quite as bad if you are careful; to choose the prime and more lean cuts. Chicken is great but lose the skin as this all fat.
Trans Fat Substitute.
Then there are the Trans Fats. Much like Saturated Fats, Trans Fats are a leading cause of Stroke and Heart attack. We find Trans Fats mostly in processed foods. They are often used as part of the mass production process, decoration or preservation. These processes utilise hydrogenated fats and we find them in Crackers, Biscuits (Cookies), Chips or other fried foods. But beware, they can even turn up in some processed vegetable and fruit offerings. So if in doubt, always check the label. We are looking for products which identify as Fat Free or use Liquid Vegetable Oils instead of hydrogenated oils.
After suffering a Stroke, we should avoid Trans Fats where possible and substituted for the following;
- Crackers. In a healthy diet, we are looking to avoid hydrogenated oil, so choose Crackers made with Vegetable Oils or simply Baked.
- Margarine. Trans Fat free Margarine is widely available and the healthier option.
- Health Bars. Many so called Energy Bars and Health Bars are misleading and may be problematic where a healthier diet is recommended. As we have established, hydrogenated oils and fats are a big NO, so look for bars made with Canola or other liquid oils. Chocolate or Icing dipped bars are not ideal so plain bars are best.
- Deep Fried Foods. Avoid foods which are saturate in oils and fat. Baked, Grilled or Boiled are the healthier options.
Avoiding processed foods or at least choosing the the right ones is paramount. Yet the Stroke Victim or Carer do have their own means to reduce these fats.
Where fat is visible on meats it should trimmed. Reducing the overall quantity of fatty meats is also wise. Portion sizes should be limited, while it is wise to avoid oily foods like butter and lard as well as high fat dairy. When choosing processed or ready made meals, take the healthy options. Luckily there is an increasing number of healthy ready meal options on the market. Specifically for Dysphagia sufferers, Ezy Foods are the nations leader in Nutritious, low or fat free ready meals. Ezy Foods follow NDIS recommendations and the IDDSI framework. As such Ezy Foods ready Meals are popular for Stroke Victims, experiencing eating difficulties. Remember, always consult your Doctor or Physician when making meal choices after a Stroke. All our products come with full nutritional information panels (NIPS) and full ingredient specifications or product Informations Fact Sheets (PIFS) for each product and / or meal solutions.
What is the IDDSI (International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative)?
It's all well and good us presenting you with all these food options. But where Stroke sufferers now battle Dysphagia as well, some foods may not be quite so easy to consume. Internationally and indeed here in Australia, we measure the suitability of texture modified food, with texture and flow tests. The ease to which foods can be swallowed, provides a rating within the IDDSI framework as follows;
This simple framework helps Dysphagia suffers and carers make an informed choice when purchasing Texture Modified Foods. These include, Ready meals and / or Pureed Adult meals.
Other dietary suggestions for Stroke Sufferers?
Whether you are a Stroke victim or not, a High Fibre diet can reduce Cholesterol and of course Cardiovascular Disease. The presence of Dietary Fibre in the plants we eat, affects how the body digests food and extracts nutrients. With this in mind, lowering Cholesterol levels may lower the risk of repeat strokes or heart attack. Additionally, Fibre helps balance Blood Sugar levels, which often leads to snacking and the intake of sweets or other quick sugar hits.
We can find foods and ingredients high in fibre in many familiar meals. Of course Whole Fruit is an obvious source, but providing the fruit is fresh, even a carefully prepared pureed fruit offering is high in Fibre. Fruit juice may not be the best, but is better than none at all.
When advised by a medical expert, Whole Grain Bread or Cereal may prove excellent for recovering Stroke victims. Where the diagnosis of Cholesterol is a factor, Oat-Bran is an especially helpful option. White Bread isn't all bad, but has no where near the useful Fibre required for a healthy diet.
Enriched Pasta and White Rice is not ideal either. But there are many varieties of Whole Wheat Pasta and Brown Rice which come packed with Fibre, also keeping the hunger at bay.
Chemicals and additives
Probably the most infamous of all chemicals and additives is Salt (or Sodium). Salt is prominent in all kinds of foods and indeed on the dinner table. With the added salt found in every days meals as flavouring and preservative, one could argue that table salt is not really warranted at all. But even without the Salt dispenser at hand, we find Salt almost everywhere.
So what can we do to avoid all this unhealthy salt which ends up causing the retention of body fluids by dehydration and consequent high blood pressure?
Many Fresh Food and ingredients naturally contain low levels of Sodium. Even so, Fresh Food is always the way to go if possible. In addition to fresh foods though, todays supermarket shelves are full of reduced salt or no added salt offerings. So the choice is pretty easy. Keeping an eye on the labelling should help measure your daily Sodium intake, which should not exceed 1500 milligrams per day. This can change from patient to patient, so again, always consult your doctor or dietician for advice.
In the case of Stroke patients with Dysphagia, Soups are often the go to food source, but beware of Sodium. Many canned Soups as well as canned Vegetables and even meat, are loaded with Salt. Too much salt is the last thing anyone needs in their diet. Healthy Soup options such as those offered by Ezy Foods Australia are the natural choice, full of nutrition and flavour without the Salt.
A great substitute for salt is herbs, which can be sprinkled on over a meal, much like salt is.
In similar fashion, Sugar is another favourite with processed food manufacturers. Of course, the effects of too much sugar are well documented. Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Dyslipidemia and Hypertension, all can contribute to poor health. Choosing foods with reduced or zero sugar are always advisable.
A final thought
What follows suffering a Stroke is challenging and often requires significant change in both lifestyle and diet. What you eat as well as exercise are more important than ever. While these changes may take time, it is important that the Stroke Victim is active and is conscious of what they consume. There is however one more thing which is arguably just as important in recovering from a Stroke. And that is your state of mind!
Taking a positive attitude as well as all the above advice, is the final link in the chain to 'well being'. Just because you are changing your dietary habits, does not mean food has to be bland or boring. Enjoying food is critical to anyones well being. Choosing nutritious meals which suit your condition will ultimately keep your spirits high.