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Development of enriched gelled water for a population suffering from dysphagia

gelled water
Dysphagia, or swallowing disorder, mainly affects the elderly and people with hemiparesis. The gelled water allows the hydration of these patients but does not solve the problem of malnutrition and the severe weakness it may incur.

In this study, we enriched fluid gels with essential polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants that do not fragment in the mouth and that are chemically and physically stable. The molecules studied are molecules of nutritional interest and were chosen for their reactional specificity (chemical structure, hydrophobicity, etc.): a-linolenic acid, essential fatty acid from the omega-3 family and carvacrol, often used as an aroma for its hot and spicy taste that is characteristic of oregano and that has antioxidant properties.

However, the addition of some of these components is not without risk. Indeed, unsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants are fragile and easily oxidisable molecules. It is therefore necessary to protect them in order to guarantee their health benefits and to avoid the consumption of potentially toxic degradation products.

As a result of its linear nature and the almost exclusive presence of α(1-4) bonds, amylosis may  be capable of complexing small hydrophobic molecules such as linolenic acid and carvacrol and, as a result, of protecting them from oxidation. Konjac, known to slow down or stop the progressive expulsion of water from gels to which it was added, should be able to stabilise the protection system of the molecules with starch.

This work has shown that the presence of konjac glucomannan in a potato starch matrix makes it possible to clearly slow down the occurrence of syneresis and to therefore increase the physical stability of this gel. The addition of konjac glucomannan in a small amount (0.2% w/s) significantly hinders the formation of the protective assemblies, regardless of the molecule of interest used. However, the introduction of these active molecules at the end of the process clearly improves their trapping by amylose, thus enabling a quantitative supply of microconstituents while guaranteeing a minimum supply of oxidised molecules.

Improving the nutritional quality of these gels via the synergistic use of polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants while maintaining a smooth and homogeneous texture should lead to the development of a new source of food for a population with these particular physiological conditions


C.Lafarge, N.Cayot, C.Hory, L.Goncalves, C.Chassemont, P.Le-Bail. Effect of konjac glucomannan addition on aroma release in gels containing potato starch. (2014) Food Research International, 64, 412-419.

C. Lafarge, L. Journaux, A. Bonottec, J. Lherminierc, J. Aldo Leed, P. Le Bail, N. Cayot. Trapping of carvacrol by konjac glucomannan-potato starch gels: stability from macroscopic to microscopic scale, using image processing. (2017)Food Hydrocolloids, 66, 216–226.