FoodfindsAsia.com | Eating right: the key to better health at every stage of life | Healthy ageing starts from the moment we are born. It is a lifelong effort, with our eating and lifestyle habits strongly influencing the way we age.
But what exactly is “healthy ageing”? It effectively means preventing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) or delaying the onset of complications that NCDs bring by prevention-oriented eating. For example, to prevent osteoporosis, we look for food that support an increase in calcium uptake. Another popular option to a healthier future is by including lower glycaemic options as a way to better-manage our blood sugar levels.
There is a common misconception that NCDs only affect the elderly, or is only serious at the later stages of life. However, that is not the case. While NCDs tend to manifest in adulthood, many of the behaviours leading to these diseases are developed during childhood and adolescence. The good news is that these diseases are often preventable, with appropriate health interventions through better nutrition. Even small changes can have a big impact. For example, favourable lifestyle habits like regular exercise and a healthy diet can reduce heart disease risk by nearly 50%. With that in mind, the importance of health and nutrition has never been higher.
Food manufacturers today are well-placed to offer solutions that contribute to a healthy and active lifestyle, no matter the age group. This can be achieved through functional macronutrients that can be used in various applications. The right nutrition plan can help not just seniors, but consumers at any stage of their lives grow into their golden years in better health, stay more active and increase their quality of life.
Digestive health as the first barrier of defence
Prebiotic fibre is one of the most important nutrients for a healthy lifestyle, as it not only improves bowel movement, but also benefits the gut — where a large part of our inner defence system lies. As people grow older, the amount of beneficial bacteria in the intestine tends to decline, exposing them to gastrointestinal discomfort, constipation, and other diseases.
However, this can be prevented by simply increasing prebiotic fibre intake. BENEO’s prebiotic chicory root fibres, Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose, promote a healthy gut by feeding beneficial bacteria. These prebiotic fibres also improve intestinal functions such as stool regularity, while preventing digestive issues. such as intestinal infections and metabolic endotoxemia.
In fact, their benefits extend beyond the gut, and can prevent conditions like frailty and osteoporosis. Frailty is associated with unfavourable shifts in the gut microbiota, which may contribute to changes in muscle size, composition and function. This is backed by a study, which was done to explore whether a reduced frailty index can be achieved with prebiotic intervention. It reported a significant lower frailty index for the study group after 13 weeks of receiving just a small dose of inulin and oligofructose (FOS), proving that small dietary changes can lead to an improvement of health status.
A long-term study by BENEO has also proven that a patented blend of Oligofructose-enriched Inulin, called Orafti® Synergy can enhance bioavailability of calcium in the diet and increase bone mineral density. This can potentially prevent osteoporosis and improve conditions of patients suffering from the condition.
Improving blood glucose management
Managing blood glucose levels is another important piece in the overall health management puzzle, and it matters at every age. It is crucial in the prevention and management of diabetes — which, at more serious stages, may lead to complications such as stroke, heart attack, and others. With more than 250 million diabetics living in Asia Pacific, it is crucial that better strategies are devised to help consumers better manage their blood sugar levels, starting with daily diets.
Blood sugar management also helps to prevent and manage NCDs and infectious diseases. There is an increasing amount of research showing that NCDs can be delayed or prevented when key ingredients are incorporated into a balanced diet.
One of these key ingredients is Palatinose™ from sugar beet. It is a slow-release carbohydrate that leads to a slower and lower rise in blood glucose and insulin response, while providing a more constant and sustained energy supply over a longer period. Because of its unique slow-release property and its low glycaemic index (GI) of 32, Palatinose™ is a one-of-a-kind replacement for common sugars and maltodextrin, which have high GIs. Furthermore, its mild sugar-like taste, can maintain — or even improve — the taste and texture of the final product.
Ageing healthily through diet
Overall, as the focus on heathy ageing continues to grow, it is crucial for the consumers of all ages to maintain a healthy and nutritious diet to boost and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle as much as possible.
With the advent of functional food ingredients like the chicory root fibre and Palatinose™, it is now more efficient and convenient for consumers to enjoy tasty foods with greater nutritional benefits in pursuit of a clean bill of health. Food manufacturers can play an active role in meeting these needs by reimagining their product formulation to incorporate more natural, functional food ingredients with proven health benefits.