Disclosure: This article is sponsored by Thick-It

Xanthan Gum

While xanthan gum-based thickening powders offer many proven advantages over starch-based powders, shortcomings remain in some xanthan-based agents currently marketed for use with dysphagia patients.

Many dysphagia patients require multiple medications and supplements for better nutrition and health. Many medications and nutritionally-necessary minerals are positively charged. Xanthan powder naturally carries a negative charge, causing it to bind to positively charged materials.

While all thickening agents bind to some degree, xanthan is a soluble fiber and passes through the body undigested. Any material that binds to the xanthan in the digestion process may be excreted without being absorbed into the bloodstream. For patients who take medications orally with a xanthan-thickened beverage or who must thicken nutritional supplements such as Ensure or Boost, some or all of the medication and nutrients may not be bioavailable to the patient.

Several studies have shown lower-than-expected blood serum concentrations of nutrients and medications when administered with xanthan-thickened beverages.

Solution to the problem

My team has researched a solution for this serious problem by developing a proprietary xanthan powder formulation that supports the absorption of nutrients.

Click here for more information about the Clear Advantage formula from Thick-It!

By using ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to acidify the xanthan, Thick-It Clear Advantage reduces the likelihood that positively-charged medications and nutrients will bind to it. Medications and nutrients can dissolve and be absorbed by patients more easily than with other xanthan-based thickening powders.

These results were verified by extensive research. First, in vitro studies proved the hypothesis that ascorbic acid inhibits the bonding of xanthan powder with positive ions. Then, in vivo studies were performed at the University of Wisconsin–Stout.

The experiment

To test the hypothesis via blind trials, piglets were fed xanthan-thickened breast milk or formula. Researchers tested the blood to determine the levels of nutrients absorbed. Compared to plain xanthan, the acidified Clear Advantage formula delivered the most favorable results of several agents being studied, specifically when measuring levels of iron, calcium, and zinc. This pioneering research earned patents for both its process and formula.


Clearly, bioavailability of medications and nutritional supplements is a critical concern in providing nutrition and treatment for patients with dysphagia. This modified xanthan-based thickener can be used with medications and nutritional supplements to increase the absorption of active ingredients.

(Note: All medications may not have the same absorption results.)

Links of Interest

Thick-It Clear Advantage Food and Beverage Thickener



Outside the body. Made to occur in a laboratory vessel or other controlled experimental environment, rather than within a living organism.


Inside the body. Made to occur within the living. Studies that are tested on whole, living organisms.


A polysaccharide secreted by the bacterium Xanthamonas campesteris, used as a food additive and rheology modifier. It is composed of pentasaccharide repeating units comprising glucose, mannose and glucuronic acid.






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Doug Stetzer is the inventor of Thick-It AquaCare and Clear Advantage and Director of Innovation for Kent Corporation in Muscatine, Iowa. Mr. Stetzer holds degrees in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin. He is an author and holds Utility Patents in the United States and abroad for developing methods and products designed for patients with Oropharyngeal Dysphagia. His latest patent involves methods to thicken breast milk and formula for infants born premature or with swallowing disorders, while maintaining the bioavailability of zinc, iron and calcium. He is a member of the Dysphagia Research Society and the European Society for Swallowing Disorders.