Chicago-based market researcher Synovate (www.synovate.com) studied consumer interest in wellness and functional beverages and reported a definite decline in beverages associated with higher sugar content and fewer nutrients. For the first time, diet cola had a decrease in consumption. Then the enhanced water category flooded the healthy beverage market. Now, it's targeting beauty and the category is looking better than ever.
To formulate beverages with herbals and nutraceuticals to promote skin care and beauty enhancement from within means ensuring greater bioavailability, but without negative flavor. Scott Borba, CEO of Borba Skin Balance Waters (www.borba.net), Los Angeles, turned to microencapsulation technology to help deliver natural botanicals used in topical skin care in a beverage form.
To account for the sedimentation of the vitamins and minerals, and to ensure dispersion when the bottle is shaken, Borba uses gelatin technologies. Soft, solid flecks of the vitamins and minerals stay suspended to allow for a measured mixture of bioactives in each sip. Borba Age Defying Water is an açai-based beverage with grape seed, green tea extracts and vitamins C and E.
Radiant by Ardea Beverage Co.' Nutrisoda (www.nutrisoda.com), Minneapolis, is promoted as a new "beauty" beverage "designed to help improve the skin's natural elasticity and firmness for healthy, youthful skin." The drink contains lysine, proline and arginine plus extract of gotu kola (Centella asiatica), a carrotlike root of the pennywort plant, to help stimulate and maintain the body's production of collagen."
GuS – Grown-up Soda (www.drinkgus.com) by Utmost Brands Inc., New York, is for those who seek taste and health benefits in a carbonated beverage without the sugar "overload" typical of most other sodas. The beverages are made with real juice and flavor extracts and no caffeine. They're only lightly sweetened with cane sugar and yield only 90 - 98 calories per 12-oz. bottle.
A "new" ancient ingredient getting sudden attention for helping beauty from within is aloe vera. Well known for millenia as an as an anti-inflammatory and wound-healing ointment, it also functions topically as an antioxidant to protect the skin from wrinkling.
"Less well known to consumers are aloe vera's myriad internal benefits, including detoxification reactions [via superoxide dismutase] that act to detoxify the body of carcinogens and protect DNA from damage," says Barbara Apps, director of business development for Lacey, Wash.-based Aloecorp Inc. (www.aloecorp.com). "Aloe also helps immunomodulatory actions, blood sugar regulation, improve gastrointestinal health via improved regularity, pH buffering, protein digestion, and ulcer and kidney stone prevention, while increasing the bioavailability of Vitamins C, E, B12 and antioxidants. All these play an anti-aging role in the body." A number of new aloe-containing beverages hit the market in the the last few years.
Kraft Foods Inc. recently dove into the enhanced water category with its brand extension Fruit2o (www.fruit2o.com), Tarrytown, N.Y. The new line of zero calorie flavored water beverages straddles both health and beauty and is formulated with B vitamins, antioxidant vitamins (A, C and E), caffeine and electrolytes and comes in four health-directed varieties: Energy, Hydration, Immunity and Relax. The waters are also variously infused with superfruits such as pomegranate and berries, chamomile and hibiscus.
One does not have to go all exotic for healthful, restorative beverages – the lowly concord grape can potentially help lower systolic blood pressure and help reduce heart disease deaths. John Folts, professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine, Madison, Wis., recently reported research findings that concord grape juice lowered blood pressure, cholesterol and inhibited atherosclerosis in a laboratory group.
In previous studies Folts determined that concord grape juice helps expand the brachial arteries plausibly through nitric oxide production and accommodates increased blood flow while reducing the tendency for the blood to clot. GuS – Grown-up Soda is one of a number of new beverage companies to include a concord grape flavor to the line up, although the appeal of the flavor is traditionally more nostalgic (think "grape Nehi") than health and beauty.
Phytonutrient compounds, especially from fruits, herbs and spices, are being used more and more for their beneficial pharmacological or physiological effects. They promote antioxidative action in cells by maintaining low levels of reactive intermediates, as anti-inflammatory agents by inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis, as anticancer agents by inhibiting cell proliferation and limiting gene expression to regulate disease formation and progression.
High costs of pharmaceutical products that are also associated with adverse side-effects is another reason for growing consumer confidence and perception that healthful foods and beverages are better by being less toxic, more efficacious and affordable. Expect the category of beyond-health-to-beauty foods and beverages to grow simply because of the desire of consumers to maintain a higher quality of life.