Protein foam to boost elderly nutrition unveiled by researchers

Picture courtesy of Institute of Nutrition Mahidol University

A research group at Mahidol University has unveiled a novel plant-based protein supplement aimed at bolstering the protein consumption of the elderly. The supplement, a foam protein derived from Thailand’s acclaimed Hom Mali rice, is designed for effortless consumption.

Warangkana Srichamnong, assistant director of the Institute of Nutrition and spearhead of the foam protein project, explained the simplicity of its use.

“Just squeeze it onto a spoon and then eat it.”

The Agricultural Research Development Agency and Ubonthaworn Agricultural Produce Limited Partnership jointly fund the project. The foam protein utilises broken rice, an offshoot of rice milling, as the primary ingredient.

A recent trial involving 30 elderly participants residing in a care home found the protein foam product satisfactory, with an 87% approval rate. Warangkana revealed that the prototype will undergo further large-scale trials before the technology is handed over to food manufacturers in the northeast or the Central Plains, the primary rice cultivation regions in the country, reported Bangkok Post.

Warangkana stated that previous research by the institute showed older adults’ protein consumption is typically 8 to 10 grammes less than the suggested 1 gramme to 1.2 grammes per kilogramme of body weight. To augment their protein intake, seniors are encouraged to consume one to two 100 millilitre bottles of the foam protein daily.

Regular consumption of this supplement can help counter muscle degradation and related health issues such as Sarcopenia, a condition characterised by age-related progressive loss of muscle mass and strength.

The foam protein is available in two flavours, pandanus leaf and jasmine, which are favoured by Thai seniors. Warangkana added that the prototype has been displayed in Japan, attracting substantial attention. If marketed in Japan, the foam protein may feature peach or grape flavours, given their popularity among the elderly.

The foam format of this plant-based protein product is particularly suited to seniors as many struggle with chewing food. Furthermore, patients with conditions like dementia often encounter difficulties swallowing food. The foam protein offers a practical and efficient solution to these challenges, ensuring that seniors have an adequate protein supply.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.