Beverage thickeners are considered essential for people with severe dysphagia. They make the difficult act of drinking liquids a much easier process for a lot of people around the world. However, there might be a few concerns to using liquid thickeners that most are not aware of.
Are there Any Side Effects of Using Thickeners?
Beverage thickeners can have side effects on people who use them, but that depends on what kind of thickener they are using and the exact product, as well as how much thickener they are using and consuming per day. It also depends on whether any ingredient in the thickener can aggravate one or more of the individual’s preexisting medical conditions(s).
As you can see, it would be difficult to ascertain whether a particular food thickener can have any adverse side effects on your own health, without knowing the particulars. Nevertheless, the answer is yes, some thickeners can have mild to moderate levels of adverse side effects on people with dysphagia.
Potential Side Effects of Using Drink Thickeners
Some of the known side-effects of using drink thickeners include but are not limited to:
- Gas, bloating and constipation or mild diarrhea
- Elevated blood sugar
- Allergic reactions and gluten intolerance
However, most of these side-effects are largely limited to starch-based drink thickeners, so there is a way to avoid them.
The Solution is in Using Gel-Based Thickeners
Gel based drink thickeners do not aggravate food allergies and they do not elevate blood sugar levels because they don’t have gluten or glucose in them. That is the reason why Simply Thick side effects are nonexistent. Made from Xanthian gum, these beverage thickeners do not add any gluten or glucose to the user’s daily drinks.
In the absence of anything that can lead to the aforementioned adverse side-effects, the gel/gum-based drink thickener simply cannot affect a human body in any known ways. This may not be universally true though, because added flavors can change that. If you are diabetic or if you have a gluten intolerance, you should always double check the ingredients and the nutrition info before buying any food thickener.
The Issue with Starch Thickeners
Beverage thickeners manufactured from starch contain gluten and their glucose content can indeed raise your blood sugar. Some starch-based products have a heavier chance of causing side-effects than others because of the differences between their respective ingredients and manufacturing processes. Unfortunately, even the best starch thickeners can be harmful for diabetics and gluten intolerant users, especially in the long term.
To understand why even the smallest amounts of gluten and carbs might be problematic for vulnerable users, we need to consider just how often they are using the product. Since dysphagia does not disappear at any point during the day, someone with chronic dysphagia must thicken every drink that they take throughout the day, every day.
If that person is to stay hydrated, that’s a lot of beverage thickener, especially for daily usage. Over time, all that gluten and glucose can start to have an effect on anyone, and especially on users who are already susceptible to such side effects.