Sector News

Food science of healthy aging: ADM and Univar Solutions examine bioactives and microbiome solutions

April 15, 2023
Food & Drink

The healthy aging space is experiencing a surge in growth and functional F&B with active ingredients in easily consumable formats are being highlighted as major trends in this expanding space. At the same time, industry professionals maintain that ingredients need to be backed by science and multifunctional.

According to Innova Market Insights, product launches in the segment have risen 14% globally over the last five years (CAGR, 2018-2022). This growth is correlated with rising consumer interest as the Innova Trends 2023 Survey reveals that about one in every three consumers states that they have started to take active steps toward healthy aging, starting at the age of 30.

To better understand this growing market NutritionInsight sits down with Univar Solutions’ business development manager, Tamar Serapian, along with ADM’s global VP of marketing in the health and wellness division, June Lin.

“Aging well can take on different meanings for people in different demographics and in varying life stages,” says Lin. “As consumers increasingly take a more proactive and personalized approach to supporting their health and well-being, brands must respond with tailored offerings that can meet consumers where they are in their current life stage, as well as support long-term goals.”

“Exploring how wellness focus areas can evolve over time and providing specific support for each stage of life is crucial for aging well,” she explains.

Serapian shares this sentiment, stating that Univar Solutions’ network of over 20 formulation centers and 45 quality assurance facilities support formulators looking to create healthy aging offerings that meet consumers’ evolving aging needs. She further notes that the company’s experts are able to provide product ideation, prototype design and stability testing.

“The Life Sciences team is composed of more than 70 formulation and application specialists in pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and foods who provide market insights, ingredient recommendations and product development within the age-well sphere,” says Serapian.

Nutraceuticals and active ingredients
Univar Solutions highlights active ingredients such as fructooligosaccharides, phytonutrients, bioflavonoids and antioxidants for their healthy aging properties, whereas ADM emphasizes microbiome solutions such as pro- and prebiotics.

“For instance, Eriomin, a lemon bioflavonoid and a potent antioxidant, has been the subject of clinical studies on pre-diabetic individuals to support healthy glucose levels, help protect against oxidative stress, and manage inflammation, which are all major contributors to aging,” Serapian stresses.

“Additionally, prebiotics such as Fossence, a fructooligosaccharide, are important for maintaining a healthy gut and immune system, supporting strong bones and joints, and expressing a healthy inflammatory response in the body.”

Meanwhile, Lin affirms that consumers are starting to “connect the dots” between gut health and overall well being.

“Our health and wellness ingredients are incredibly versatile, especially our gut and microbiome-supporting solutions that can withstand different processing conditions,” Lin elaborates.

“Specifically, the heat-treated counterpart to BPL1 (Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis CECT8145) contains nonviable microorganisms, enabling it to withstand harsh processing environments like high-heat and -moisture applications.”

As a spore-forming probiotic, DE111 (Bacillus subtilis) can retain its functionality through challenging processing conditions that may otherwise damage conventional probiotics, she notes. “It can also survive gastric transit and germinate in the small intestine, as well as endure hard conditions of the stomach and bile salts.”

According to Lin, these attributes allow these solutions to be used in functional F&B, such as snacks and gummies. She further notes that these products support metabolic health and immunity while the company’s prebiotic offering Fibersol helps to nourish intestinal flora and supports a healthy intestinal and digestive tract environment.

Emerging trends
The companies also shine a spotlight on separate emerging and corollary trends within the healthy aging space.

ADM notes that women’s health in relation to aging is particularly gaining interest.

“As women age, it’s important to meet daily nutrient needs, especially for protein and fiber,” Lin comments.

“There is a growing demand for personalized products for women as they transition through menopause,” she continues. “Clinical research shows that soy isoflavones, like our Novasoy, help reduce the number and frequency of hot flashes and help maintain healthy bones for women experiencing this phase of life.”

She further reveals that Novasoy, in combination with ADM’s plant proteins, such as soy, allows brands to create product offerings like chocolate squares or snack bars that are tailored to ease the transition through menopause.

Meanwhile, Univar Solutions points out that another major convergence of trends is the adaptation of traditional sports nutrition diets for active populations, stating that “the demands of athletes can often be similar to those of aging adults.”

“Take, for instance, the improvement of musculoskeletal health and you’ll see the opportunity exists to create supplements, foods and beverages for adults who are adopting a more active lifestyle to overcome physical and mental frailty,” she underscores. “Sports nutrition supplementation is not only for professional athletes.”

“For example, incorporating whey or milk fat globule membrane into a ready-to-drink may help improve muscle protein synthesis in older adults.”

Serapian concludes that it remains important to design functional foods and supplements with enhanced palatability and easily consumable formats, so consumers stay brand loyal.

By William Bradford Nichols


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