One of the great things about blenderized tube feeding is that you can create blended meals that are seasoned with your favourite herbs and spices. Herbs and spices hold a range of nutritional benefits and medicinal properties, and they enhance the aroma and colour of blended meals.
Ground or powdered spices are best for tube feeding as they won’t risk blocking the feeding tube. Delicate fresh herbs such as dill or basil are also a great option as they blend very easily. Fresh herbs that are very fibrous such as lemongrass or rosemary should probably not be used unless you have a very powerful blender or are planning on straining the blend. If in doubt, use these herbs in dried powdered form.
Please keep in mind that it’s important to use herbs and spices in moderation in recipes intended for tube feeding. Excess spices can be overwhelming and make the blend difficult to digest. Think about what would be a reasonable amount for seasoning the foods that we eat by mouth, and mimic that amount in blended meals for tube feeding.
For example, if you make a blended oatmeal for breakfast, one teaspoon of ground cinnamon would be plenty to add to the recipe if it’s intended to be consumed as a single meal. A tablespoon, or more, of cinnamon would be excessive.
If you’re making a savoury blend, you could, for example, add a sprinkle of finely ground black pepper (it's a natural antioxidant). A teaspoon of pepper would be far too much for a single meal and could cause an upset stomach. Always consider how much spice would season the meal to a normal level for a person who eats by mouth, and not to the point of excess. If possible, taste the meal to make sure it’s not over spiced. If a meal contains an excess of spices, it’s unlikely to be well tolerated and may not be safe for tube feeding.
Always inform your healthcare team before making any changes to your usual tube feeding regime. There could be medical or pharmaceutical reasons why some herbs and spices should be avoided so check with your healthcare team to get their approval before spicing things up.
Below I have outlined the health benefits of some common spices and herbs. Each spice and herb is composed of complex chemical components that function within the body to provide these various health benefits. At the end of this post, I have written basic descriptions of what is meant by the terms anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial.
-Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antimicrobial
-Beware that this spice is highly pigmented and can stain the feeding tube
-Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal
-Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial
-Can increase nutrient absorption (nutrient bioavailability) in the intestine
High in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory
Cocoa consumption has been linked to reduced risk for development of heart disease
-Can aide digestion by reducing nausea and vomiting
Curry Powder: A Blend of 6 Spices in 1
-Turmeric, chilli powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground ginger and pepper
-Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant
-Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
-Can help decrease indigestion
What do anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial mean?
Anti-inflammatory: Reduces inflammation in the body. Inflammation results from injury or illness, or one’s own inflammatory system attacking body tissue.
Antioxidant: Protects against oxidative cell damage from free-radicals.
Antimicrobial: Reduces growth of microorganisms, which includes bacteria, fungi, and some viruses.
Thank you to Natalie Hamilton, UBC Dietetics Student, for her help in writing this article.