Anke Sentko, vice president regulatory affairs and nutrition communication at BENEO, told Dairy Reporter about some of the latest studies on healthy ageing, as well as ingredients dairy companies can use to meet some of these needs.
How has the consumer view of ‘healthy ageing’ shifted over time?
Health concerns have shifted over the past decade quite significantly. A consumer survey by market research company HealthFocus International[i] showed that the focus was primarily on chronic and acute conditions (such as cancer and heart disease) in 2010, followed by daily problems such as stress and energy levels, with ageing lower down the agenda.
In the latest survey however, concerns about ageing now take priority, demonstrating a shift in focus by consumers to lifestyle and ageing; with ‘maintaining the ability to continue with my normal activities as I age’ now the number one concern across the globe.
Consumers are increasingly adopting a long-term approach to health maintenance, wanting to stay fit, active and independent until as late in life as possible and nutrition has a key role to play in this. While this mindset has been accelerated by the pandemic, it is something that consumers have been placing importance on for many years, with many having a strong desire for control over their personal health.
At the same time, despite commitments to leading a healthier life, the prevalence of lifestyle-related health problems continues to rise, showing that ultimately, many are unable to maintain these improvements in the long-term without a wider infrastructure of support.
How can blood sugar management support healthy ageing?
Healthy ageing and healthy eating are strongly correlated. The potential of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and being overweight or obese increases with age, as the body’s ability to correct dietary mistakes decreases. The metabolic and physiological risk factors of contracting a NCD, or delaying its onset, are influenced by a range of factors such as having high blood glucose and blood fat levels or raised blood pressure, being overweight or obese. However, the development of such diseases can be influenced by diet and lifestyle related changes.
Within a balanced nutrition, carbohydrates are an important part of a person’s diet, no matter their age. They are in fact the largest part of the intake recommendations for macronutrients and between 55% to 75% of a person’s energy should come from them[ii].
Many evidence-based reports[iii] suggest the preferred choice of carbohydrate should be one that is slowly available. This is to enable a lower blood glucose profile to be maintained throughout the day, enabling a lower insulin level to be achieved. This not only supports metabolic health but benefits fat oxidation for energy production and inhibits the storage of fat, which may support weight management. With all this in mind, the nutritional quality of carbohydrates is very important to healthy ageing.
What ingredients are key to promoting healthy ageing through blood sugar management?
According to a consumer survey conducted by Insites Consulting[iv] on BENEO’s behalf, 78% of 65- to 75-year-olds in Asia, Europe and the US are now paying attention to their sugar intake[v]. One of the many reasons that so many are watching their sugar consumption is that they are wanting to improve their blood sugar management and subsequently to age more healthily.
However, the key to promoting healthy ageing through blood sugar management is through the right choice of carbohydrate. The ideal carbohydrate provides the necessary energy for a person’s metabolism, it triggers a low and balanced rise in blood glucose and a low increase in insulin, as well as encouraging fat burning rather than fat storage.
The goal for any dairy producer interested in promoting the long-term health of consumers should be the development of food choices that deliver a lower glycaemic profile. This is only possible by selecting the right ingredients. A case in point is the increasing popularity in product development of plant-based ingredients with added value, such as isomaltulose and chicory root fiber (inulin, oligofructose). With a low or non-glycaemic profile, all of these ingredients can help in the creation of dairy foods and beverages that support blood sugar management.
BENEO’s Palatinose (isomaltulose) is a slow release sugar. It is made from sucrose naturally sourced from sugar beet. It is also naturally found in honey. Palatinose is unique in its ability to deliver a lower rise in blood glucose, while delivering full carbohydrate energy (4 kcal/g). Its slow uptake results in a low and balanced blood glucose response, making it an ideal ingredient to help support blood sugar management.
Almost two thirds of European 55- to 75-year-olds[vi] in a consumer survey found Palatinose appealing due to these unique characteristics. Additionally, this unique sugar carries EU health claims for being toothfriendly and providing a lower blood glucose response.
Chicory root fibers, such as BENEO’s Orafti inulin and oligofructose, contribute to a low glycaemic diet by replacing available carbohydrates and enriching the food with a dietary fiber. Thus, they support effective blood sugar management.[vii] At the same time, numerous scientific studies have shown chicory root fiber is one of the very few proven prebiotics that nourishes the beneficial gut microbiota[viii]. It supports digestive health[ix] and wellbeing[x] as well as weight management[xi].
How can these ingredients be used in dairy applications and what benefits do they deliver?
It is possible to create low and balanced blood glucose response dairy foods and beverages that promote healthy ageing by using slow release carbohydrates. The BENEO Technology Center has developed recipe concepts to show the potential for blood glucose management in dairy desserts, such as vanilla pudding and chocolate mousse.
As stable blood sugar levels become more and more important to older consumers, the opportunities presented to producers to deliver low glycaemic dairy products will continue to increase. However, choosing the right on-pack messaging is key.
In recent BENEO consumer research, the phrasing ‘lower and more gentle impact on sugar levels’ was the preferred by 68% of 65- to 74-year-olds. Also, two-thirds of consumers aged between 55 and 64 are willing to try new products and ingredients when there is an attached health benefit[xii].
This shows the potential for low glycaemic new product development that comes with the right on-pack messaging.
[i] Health Focus International, Global Trends Study 2010-2020, Global Total: Includes core trended countries –Canada, Mexico, Brazil, France, Germany, UK, Russia, India, Australia, China, Japan, Indonesia, and Philippines
[iii] Augustin LS, Kendall CW, Jenkins DJ et al. (2015) Glycemic index, glycemic load and glycemic response: An international scientific consensus summit from the international carbohydrate quality consortium (ICQC). Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 25(9): 795–815. http://www.nmcd-journal.com/article/S0939-4753(15)00127-1/pdf
Livesey G et al. (2019) Dietary Glycemic Index and Load and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Updated Meta-Analyses of Prospective Cohort Studies. Nutrients 11(6). https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/6/1280. Zalewski et al. (2017) Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 57(3):489-500. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 57(3):0. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25751102 EarlyNutrition www.project-earlynutrition.eu
[iv] Insites Consulting 2020/2021
[v] Insites Consulting BENEO Consumer Research on Nutrition & Health, Q4 2020 (Asia, Europe) –Q2 2021 (US)
[vi] Insites Consulting references BENEO’s Consumer Research on Health & Nutrition in Europe, 2020 Q: How appealing do you find Palatinose?
[vii] Kellow et al (2014), Liu et al (2017) both systematic review and meta analysis, O’Connor et al (2017) literature review, Zhang et al (2020) systematic review and meta analysis
[viii] Gibson GR, Hutkins R, Sanders ME et al. (2017) Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 14(8): 491–502. https://www.nature.com/articles/nrgastro.2017.75.pdf
[ix] Collada Yurita et al (2014) systematic review and meta analysis, Skorka et al (2018) systematic review
[x] Vandeputte D, Falony G, Vieira-Silva S, et al. oi:10.1136/gutjnl-2016-313271 Vandeputte D, Falony G, Vieira-Silva S et al. (2017) Prebiotic inulin-type fructans induce specific changes in the human gut microbiota. Gut 66(11): 1968–1974. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28213610/
[xi] Kellow et al (2014) systematic review and meta analysis, O’Connor et al (2017) literature review
[xii] Source: BENEO’s Nutrition & Health Survey 2020