Safer Swallowing with Japanese High-Amylose Rice Flour Gel
In our daily lives, we rarely think about the act of swallowing since it occurs seemingly as natural as our breathing. However, in the United States, dysphagia, or difficulty with swallowing, affects an estimated 1 in 25 people each year (Source). Dysphagia is especially prevalent among the elderly, in addition to individuals who have had strokes, those with neurological conditions (such as Parkinson’s disease), and survivors of head and neck cancer (Source). In some cases, people cannot swallow thin liquids and require a modified diet that is prepared with a thickener to prevent aspiration, when contents enter the trachea and lungs (Source). Japanese high-amylose rice flour is one of the great options being introduced to medical professionals as a gelling agent for these patients.
What is Japanese high-amylose rice and what are its uses?
Have you ever noticed how some rice is much softer while some are a lot harder? The texture variance is due to a component in the rice starch called, amylose. According to the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), the official research and development institute in Japan for agriculture and food, rice containing more than 25% of amylose is considered high-amylose. After cooking, high-amylose rice is firm and fluffy, as opposed to low-amylose rice which is soft and sticky (Source). Each serves a different purpose, and everyone has their own preference of which type of rice texture they prefer.
For Japanese high-amylose rice, the stiffness makes for a great milled rice flour, perfect for maintaining bread shape after baking. (Source, 78), making delicious noodles that are firmer and less sticky (Source), and creating jelly-like food products for dysphagia. Generally, high-amylose rice is slow to digest and therefore more nutritionally beneficial (Source). Thus, it is ideal for cooking, but even better for one’s health and the aid of swallowing disorders.
How is gel made from Japanese high-amylose rice flour?
As mentioned, one of the unique creations from Japanese high-amylose rice flour is the gelling agent that helps with viscosity, or the thickness in consistency. Thickened fluids give dysphagic patients more muscle reaction time as liquids enter the pharynx more slowly, allowing the pathway to the lungs to be protected to prevent aspiration and choking (Source).
The process of making this thickening gel is quite simple. First, using rice flour milled from Japanese high-amylose rice, heat 10 parts water to 1 part rice flour in a pot and stir regularly. Once the rice flour liquid is thickened, allow the mixture to cool until it is set to a jelly-like consistency. This gelling agent is now ready to be mixed into other liquids to increase viscosity for safer swallowing.
Cooking your own gel from rice flour has many pros. Generally, homemade rice flour gel is lower cost and you can make the precise amount required to prevent wasting product and money. In addition, rice flour itself is easy to store and has a longer shelf life.
Find Sai No Kagayaki Rice Flour by
Mitake Food here to get started!
Mitake Food Manufacturing Co.,Ltd.
(Toda City, Saitama Prefecture, Japan)
Sai No Kagayaki Rice Flour
How should Japanese high-amylose rice flour gel be used for dysphagia?
As with most medical treatments, every dysphagic patient will have a very individualized diet for their specific needs, varying in hardness, adhesion, and cohesiveness. The use of Japanese high-amylose rice flour gel to adjust viscosity levels will depend on the standards established in your state. Please consult with a medical professional for further dietary advice.
The future of Japanese high-amylose rice flour
With the introduction of Japanese high-amylose rice flour gel, there are an abundant amount of recipes that have the potential to be modified and improved. People with certain allergies or Celiac disease may find this as an innovative ingredient to replace the usual thickening agents. Already, there are developments in new ice cream products, spout pouch jelly drinks, instant rice porridge, and more. Japanese high-amylose rice flour is not only the future for tasty new products, but also the future for communities like the dysphagic individuals.
For high-quality rice flour products imported from Japan, find Sai No Kagayaki Rice Flour 300g from Mitake.