Researchers are working to revolutionise mealtimes for elderly people with swallowing problems – by 3D-printing their food.
The 3D printer will be able to create easily digestible food, which not only maintains the shape and taste of the real thing, but can also be fortified with specific nutrients.
Studies suggest that more than one in five people over the age of 50 have problems swallowing their food – a condition known as dysphagia. Those with this problem have difficulties eating because the larynx fails to close properly during swallowing, so that food ends up in the lungs instead of the stomach.
…Kück expects that elderly residents will be able to choose from different menus each week and the meals will be prepared in a processing plant before delivery. It is hoped that the new technology will also mean that food can be personalised, adding specific vitamins or nutrients – for example folic acid – as required by residents.
…The 3D printer will work in the same way as a conventional inkjet device – except the cartridges are filled with liquefied food, instead of ink.
‘If you have people who don’t want vegetables, you might fortify the meat with certain vitamins – there really are no restrictions in terms of what food can be recreated.’
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