Ingredients for healthy aging1 November 2012
As the global aging population grows rapidly, there is pressure on food and drink manufacturers to make palatable food products aimed at supporting the aging process and age-related conditions. Karin Nielsen of Canadean Ingredients reports on the health-related food categories within this sector and their associated ingredients.
The world's population will reach seven billion this year and is projected to exceed nine billion in 2050, when 1.25 billion elderly (aged 60+) and one billion working-age adults are added to this figure.
The World Health Organization (WHO) categorises the senior population into two demographic groups - younger seniors (aged 65+) and older seniors (aged 75+). Both groups are yet to be defined by the food and beverage market, as they tend not to invest in quality nutrition products, despite paying a premium for dietary supplements.
The American Dietetic Association says risk factors, such as poor nutrition, physical inactivity and smoking lead to 70% of the physical decline in the senior population. Also, nearly 90% of older American adults suffer with lifestyle and nutrition-related issues, such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.
All people require more than 40 nutrients to stay healthy, and with age, it becomes even more important that diets contain enough calcium, fibre, iron, protein, vitamins A, C, D and folic acids. Appetites also decrease with age, so the need to condense the full spectrum of nutrients into foods becomes even greater.
Senior food categories
Senior foods can be divided into three main categories: 1) products supporting healthy ageing and preventing age-related health conditions; 2) products nutritionally designed for the specific needs of a senior, and 3) products that alleviate and nutritionally adjust causes of aging for the older seniors.
Ingredients Insight has identified some particular fields of interest for food formulators.
The general process of aging is partly due to the programming of our genes. Aging and the life span of our cells are linked to telomere length mechanism (the structure of our DNA) - which sets a limit on the number of cell divisions. When it comes to observing longevity in the Asian population, a recent study of old Chinese men in relation to telomere length concluded that the consumption of Chinese tea had a positive effect on telomere length in elderly Chinese men.
Brands of tea ingredients
- AlphaWave L-Theanine, Bevrange Green tea extract, Greenselect, G-Tea Green tea, L-TeaActive, OPTEAVA, OxyPhyte Ultra blend, OxyPhyte White Tea Extract, Polyphenon E, Sunphenon, Suntheanine, Teamax, Tea Select Green Tea, T-Phenol.
Studies have shown that poor nutrition can increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the result of which is poor sight and maybe even irreversible sight loss. However, six long-term population studies have shown that carotenoid ingredients, lutein and zeaxanthin, may decrease the incidence of AMD.
Brands of lutein and zeaxanthin
- Bevrange Lutdyn, Biolut, FloraGLO Lutein, Lutemax, Lutemax Free Lutein, Lutemax 2020, LuMarin, Lutenat, LutiSure, Lyc-O-Lutein, XanGuard Lutein Ester Bevrange Zeadyn, Optipure Chlorella, Optisharp, Parry Xanmax, Sourcestainable Chlorella, XanGuard Zeaxanthin, Yaeyama Chlorella Powder, ZeaGold.
The Mediterranean diet is well-known to boost cardiovascular health, despite the fact it can have a relatively high intake of saturated fats. It is sometimes called the 'French paradox', as the French population suffers relatively low incidences of cardiovascular disease, which can be attributed to the consumption of polyphenols in red wine, fruits and vegetables, all common ingredients in the Mediterranean diet.
Although blood vessels change with age, which can lead to hypertension, research shows that polyphenols can reduce the oxidative stress of blood vessel cells, keeping them in better shape and reducing the risk of blood clots.
The most studied polyphenol ingredients are resveratrol, tomato polyphenols and cocoa flavanols. A recent one-year study on resveratrol shows that consuming a resveratrol-rich grape supplement improves the cardiovascular status in patients, on top of taking statins.
A lower risk of clot formation was apparent in people tested with tomato polyphenols, while people at higher risk, with higher levels of homocysteine and C-reactive protein, were the most responsive group.
Both tomato polyphenols and cocoa flavanol brands have recently received proprietary EU health claims.
Brands of resveratrol, tomato polyphenols and cocoa flavanols
- BioVin, BioVin Advanced, Cardiol, exGrape TOTAL, EXOCYAN VRO 30, Fluxome Resveratrol, LingonMax, ORAC-15M, OxyPhyte Grape Skin, ProfileProven Resveratrol, ProfileProven Grape skin extract, Protykin, Provinols, ResveraPure, Resveratrox, Resveravine, ResVida, ResVinol, Vineatrol, VinOserae
- Acticoa, Chocamine, Cirku, CocoActiv, CocoanOX, Metabromine, OmniCoa
- Fruitflow, Lyc-O-Mato, Maxopene, Redivivo, Tomat-O-Red.
Vascular dementia (VaD) is the second most common type of dementia, which is caused by reduced brain circulation, yet meta-analysis shows that VaD responds to Vitamin E and C. Some tocopherols and tocotrienols (distinct natural vitamin E-types) have shown potential for neuroprotective effects when being part of the daily nutrition.
The beneficial properties of curcumin, the key ingredient in curry, are gaining a lot of attention in the world of modern pharmacology.
The compound acts by activating various cell-protecting proteins and research indicates that curcumin could target chemical pathways involved in the development of Alzheimer's. Studies have shown that consuming curry regularly can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's.
Branded curcumin ingredients
- Curcumax, Curcumin C3Complex, CurQ99, CurQuetic, Longvida, Meriva.
Locomotive syndrome refers to the organs that move the body, and therefore includes bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, the spinal cord,and peripheral nerves. Recent research suggests that vitamin D deficiency is the cause for these diseases that lead to frailty.
Progressive loss of muscle mass is also a part of the aging process, which relates to lack of exercise and insufficient protein intake. Proteins with high nutritional value and a low satiating effect have the best potential of supporting elderly consumers' needs. Certain proteins also support immunity and easy digestion.
Brands of proteins
- Alacen, Alfapro, Avonlac, Bioferrin Series, Bipro, Colostrinin, Hyvital Whey CMA 500, Immulox, Immune Balance, Lacprodan ALPHA-10, Nutralys S85F, NutriSoy, PeptoPro, Pisane - Pea Protein Isolate, Premium Hydrolysates, PRO GO, Prodiet Colostrum, Provon, Salibra, Thermax, Tri-Fx, Ultranor HT-10, Volactive UltraWhey 90, Volactive UltraWhey XP.
Immunity and cancer risk reductions
Lycopene, a-carotene, ß-carotene, and lutein/zeaxanthin have been the focus of recent research. A recent study into breast cancers, during which 1,028,438 participants were followed for a maximum of 26 years, shows that carotene consumptions were inversely associated with a risk of certain types of breast cancer.
Sulphur-containing compounds from cabbage plants are currently being investigated for their cancer-protective properties, especially sulforaphane and glucoraphanin.
- BroccoPhane, BroccoPlus, Cruciferol 100, i-Sabi, SAWASABI Wasabi japonica.
According to a recent paper, eating more fibre is associated with lower mortality rates and can protect against circulatory, digestive, and non-cardiovascular and non-cancerous inflammatory diseases.
The reason aging consumers may not eat enough fibre is due to the satiating and chewing constraints of fibre-rich products. However, soluble fibres are available as beta-glucans, pectin and inulin, which can offer potential solutions for food formulators. Certain types of fibre can isolate iron and calcium, although research proves that pectin and inulin do not adversely affect their bioavailability.
Some soluble fibre brands
- Fibruline, Frutafit inulin, In-fibre ST, Oliggo-Fiber, Orafti Inulin, GENU Pectin, Citri-Fi, Canadian Harvest Oat Fibres, Neuravena, Nutrim, Oatvantage, OatWell, PromOat, UltraTrim, Viscofiber.
As well as all of the ingredients mentioned in this article, there are many more that can be used in foods aimed at the aging population. The key for food and beverage manufacturers is to make these foods as palatable as possible so they can be consumed regularly. More details on these ingredients and many others that work in products for the senior food sector can be found in the Canadean Ingredients database.