Baby Boomer Nutrition High Priority for Food Processors

Nutrition has become baby boomers’ antidote for most of the negative effects of aging.

By Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., Contributing Editor

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> Cinnamon, with its insulin-like properties, may help boomers control blood sugar levels.
> Cumin, with anti-carcinogenic properties and a very good source of iron, is traditionally noted for its benefit to the digestive system and stimulation of pancreatic enzymes necessary for proper digestion and nutrient assimilation.
> Garlic is a source of anticancer compounds including allicin, allixin, allyl sulfides, and quercetin, and does wonders for practically any savory food product.
> Green herbs – dill, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, sage, and thyme – come with generous amounts of phytochemicals and antioxidants, often exceeding the antioxidant activity of many fruits and vegetables.

Scientific evidence is pouring in that spices and herbs do more than just flavor our food – they add color, variety, flavor, aroma and help with preservation. Potent herb extracts such as Inolens4 from Vitiva (of Slovenia) are label-friendly protection against rancidity, taste change and color alteration, instead of synthetic antioxidants that are also associated with allergies, sensitivities, plus possible links to carcinogenity and mutagenicity.

Probiotics, a gauge of a healthy intestinal tract and naturally found in dairy products, are now being formulated into a variety of products across all categories. Probiotics and prebiotics are finding their way into the vocabularies of the baby boom generation.

“The short-chain fructooligosaccharides (scFOS) in NutraFlora are ideal for the probiotics naturally occurring in the gut,” according to GTC Nutrition’s O’Brien. The natural prebiotic fiber, derived from beet or cane sugar, is reportedly the highest concentration of pure scFOS obtained from a natural fermentation method and crucial for digestive health across all ages.

“Busy lifestyles, large meals, late dinners and other stresses can lead to an overworked digestive system,” points out Kathy Oneto, co-founder and vice president of marketing for Attune Foods Inc. (www.attunefoods.com), San Francisco. Attune incorporates probiotics from Fonterra, a New Zealand-based marketer of dairy ingredients, to promote digestive health, ease the discomfort and boost general immunity.

Fonterra’s collaboration with Danisco (www.danisco.com), New Century, Kan., on the latter’s branded Howaru probiotics also is good news for processors seeking a boost in this space. Howaru is a range of specific premium probiotic strains – health-enhancing bacteria that today are widely used in dairy, dietary supplements and nutritional products. Bifidobacteria, Lactobacilli and other strains have been specially developed for improved functionality and bioavailability.

Big Horn, Wyo. -based Gourmetceuticals’ (www.gourmetceuticals.com) GLPH-1 is a polysaccharide extracted from the cell wall of yeast (Candidus utilis) and is clinically proven to boost immune health. With anti-inflammatory activity via multiple mechanisms, the polysaccharide approved for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical consumption in Europe, comes in liquid or water-soluble powder forms for drop-in formulation into foods such as cereal and bars.

Whey contains a range of proteins -- including beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, glycol-macropeptide, albumin, immunoglobulins and lactoferrin – each with unique composition and functionalities that include immunity boosting. LactoMune is a whey protein concentrate from Stolle Wellness Products (www.smbimilk.com), Cincinnati. Research Vice President Bob Stohrer says dairy cows treated with immune stimulants produce milk with greater proportions of certain components with enhanced biological activity. Stolle Wellness’ proprietary processing methods allow for minimal heat to reduce damage during extraction. The milk protein concentrate from the same milk is marketed as MicroLactin for joint health support.

LactoMune (self-affirmed GRAS) is a relatively inexpensive, easy-to-process and soluble protein with four to five times the biological activity of soluble whey proteins. The MPC Microlactin (self-affirmed GRAS) has a creamier mouthfeel and is especially robust in acidic beverages when homogenized with small amounts of hydrocolloids such as pectins, alginates or carrageenans. Both ingredients are popular in a number of commercial food and beverage products in Japan and are being investigated for commercialization in the U.S.

“Regardless of how healthy the product, what boomers put in their mouths has to really taste very good,” says Karl Gradon, vice president of business development in Fonterra’s (www.fonterra.com) U.S. office in Schaumburg, Ill. Fonterra is rolling out several ingredients to help processors resolve every complaint on the palate front of nutrient-rich functional beverages. Clean-tasting notes are particularly important for difficult-to-formulate shelf-stable beverages enriched with proteins and vitamins – nutrients that tend to have undesirable taste.

“Protein beverages are ideal for boosting boomers’ intake of essential nutrients and ensuring comprehensive nutrition especially during periods of stress, but have historically been shunned because of their notorious taste and chalky mouthfeel,” says Gradon. Fonterra’s PowerProtein range of MPC ingredients allows for smooth creamy taste with clean taste profiles with the added benefit of satiety.

Memory retention ranks high in the boomers’ quest for retaining vitality. Researchers at the University of Reading and the Peninsula Medical School, both in the UK, found blueberries can effectively prevent and even reverse age-related brain deficits including short-term memory loss.

“Blueberries are a major source of anthocyanins and flavanols,” according to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (www.blueberry.org), Folsom, Calif. “In addition to enhancing short-term and long-term memory, they may also reduce the risk of age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, by preventing the effects of free radicals.”

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