Discover the nutritional benefits of blends

When you or your loved one is prescribed a tube-fed diet, formula is typically the most common option. But is it the best source of nutrition? Emerging research suggests that Blenderized Tube Feeding (BTF) is on the rise. And it may be largely due to the many benefits of blended whole foods as well as a renewed focus on consuming a more natural diet.1

What is blenderized tube feeding?

Blenderized tube feeding (BTF) is defined as the use of blended foods and liquids given directly via the feeding tube, such as Kitchen Blends® feeding tube meals. BTF is becoming a more mainstream enteral dietary choice for a variety of reasons, as studies show that it may provide enhanced health benefits and serve as an alternative to the intolerance of commercial feeding formulas.2A blenderized diet can range from mixing jars of baby food purees with formula to exclusively blending whole table foods.

Blenderized tube feeding, by the numbers

In a recent study that evaluated BTF use among adults, researchers surveyed patients from the Mayo Clinic. They found that more than half of the tube-fed adult participants (55.5%) were consuming a blenderized diet.3 Here are some of the reasons the patients cited for choosing BTF:

  • 43%: It’s more natural3
  • 33%: They like eating what their family does3
  • 30%: They tolerate BTF better3
  • 80%: They maintained their goal body weight3

4 benefits of blenderized meals

Clinical research is echoing that perspective. The perceived benefits of a blenderized tube-fed diet can range from physical to psychosocial. Let’s take a closer look.

It’s more natural. With real, recognizable ingredients like chicken or vegetables, your tube-fed loved one can feel like they’re consuming more wholesome food.4 A blenderized diet also makes it easier to avoid certain ingredients, such as corn syrup, milk products and allergens. You can tailor BTF to meet specific nutritional needs and preferences, including vegan, organic, non-GMO and seasonal diets.

Improved gut health. Research shows that a blenderized diet can provide a healthy, diverse range of nutrients. Advocates of BTF argue that whole foods benefit the gut microbiata to help improve overall and digestive health. In a pediatric study of gut health and BTF, the patients’ stool bacterial diversity improved when they transitioned from commercial formula to BTF.1 In addition, BTF resulted in significantly less reported nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation compared with commercial formulas.3

Better tolerance. Another reason families opt for BTF is feeding intolerance with commercial formulas. Many parents report improved growth and fewer symptoms of feeding intolerance after switching to BTF. In a pediatric study of tube-fed children, 52% of parents reported a 76-100% improvement in gagging and retching after they switched to a blended diet.1

Fit in with the family. Families often choose BTF to make the tube feeding experience more inclusive. Offering foods that everybody else is eating will help your tube-fed loved one feel like they’re also a part of family meals, which is important to their psyche.

It’s all in the blends

If you choose to make your own blenderized meals, it’s important to carefully follow the many steps and safety precautions, both to achieve the right nutritional balance and ensure the blend is not contaminated with bacteria.

Families that are discouraged by time constraints could use ready-to-feed BTF meals as an alternative. In fact, commercial BTF may be a safer option than homemade BTF for patients at increased risk of infection.1

Kitchen Blends® is one such example. Inspired by family favorite recipes, these meals are crafted by dietitians at Medline to provide whole nutrition specifically for a tube-fed diet. Here are some of the benefits of choosing prepared blenderized meals:3

  • More precise macro and micro nutrients. Clinically, the hard work is done for you, so it takes the guesswork out of the process, and because Kitchen Blends does not need to be diluted, you're getting exactly what's on the label.
  • Convenience. These meals are designed to be shelf-stable and ready-to-feed to save time and prep work.
  • More consistent viscosity. Kitchen Blends are made with the optimum balance of liquid to create a consistency that helps reduce the risk of clogs.

Whether you make your own blends at home or choose ready-to-feed meals like Kitchen Blends®, there are numerous clinical benefits to blenderized tube feeding. Consult your healthcare team to see what a difference it makes for your tube-fed loved one.

REFERENCES. 1. 2. 3. 4. Epp, Lisa, RDN, LD, CNSC. The Trend Continues: Resources for Blenderized Tube Feeding (available upon request).