Dr. Lisa Duizer PhD
Agri-food for Healthy Aging
Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging
As the population of older adults increases, the need for food which provides nutritional benefits but is also liked by this population will also increase. This need extends to individuals who consume regular textured meals as well as those on modified textured diets. Lisa’s research investigates both of these areas. How we perceive tastes and flavours of food changes as we age. Lisa explores the impact of these changes on liking of foods. Lisa also investigates the effect of nutrient addition on sensory quality of food. Lisa’s hope is that, in time, everyone will be able to enjoy food which provides them with optimum nutrition. Current research > How are pureed foods orally processed? Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) can be a challenge in older adults. Ensuring access to foods and liquids which are safe to swallow is of the utmost importance. Currently there is not a great deal of research which explores how modified textured foods are manipulated in the mouth. We are currently examining the role of thickeners on oral processing of these foods. We are studying the effects of starches and gums on structural breakdown of the food during processing and linking that with perception of textures of these foods. Given the importance of this food to individuals with dysphagia and given the current absence in Canada of any formalized standards for production of safe foods for this population, this research will fill a necessary gap in knowledge surrounding the effects of hydrocolloids on perceived textures of pureed foods. > How can we put better quality food on the plates of older adults? Malnutrition is a serious problem within the older adult population. This is particularly prevalent for older adults living in long term care (LTC). Previous research has identified food first strategies for reduction of malnutrition within this population. One such strategy which looks promising is that of menu improvement with the development of "supermenus". These menus contain the same foods that are commonly prepared within long term care, however specific ingredients within recipes have been substituted or added to improve the nutrient content of the foods. These changes can, in turn, lead to improved nutrition intake. We will test the feasibility of this strategy with the many stakeholders within the value chain. This includes individuals from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, menu planners, food distributors and Ontario food producers. This research examines stakeholder attitudes toward the development of the supermenu. Results will be used to develop an intervention study to evaluate acceptability of the strategy within long-term care homes.