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Aging well: Spotlight on brain health as opportunities in post-menopausal women are highlighted

In part one o coverage of healthy aging, it was clear that preventative care is a key reason for emphasizing protein to protect muscle mass. In part two, other areas of senior health are explored, with maintaining brain health emerging as a major priority. With women spending more time than ever before in a postmenopausal state, this presents another market ripe for innovation. Natural solutions that are backed by scientific studies can also address a variety of needs, including eye health.

“Citizens aged 60 and older are moving in the mainstream rather than the fringes and the shadows, and are a bigger part of society than ever before. People are working much later in life, retiring later, and those who do retire often do so into a new and highly visible career of their making. We have a society of older people who are remaining active in dramatic ways. The atmosphere is one of not only acceptance but one of normalcy,” states a spokesperson for Algatech.

David Tetzlaf, Director of Marketing at Evolva, also has noticed a quick pace of life that has seen consumers experiencing increased stress both at work and at home. This is making the need for people to ensure that their minds stay as sharp as ever even more pertinent.

“Brain health is at the top of their minds. A survey of 18,500 individuals between the ages of 18 and 99 found that 26 percent of the older population, 22 percent of middle-aged individuals and 14 percent of young adults report memory problems with an unprecedented interest for safe, dietary-based solutions to help support and maintain cognitive function. This broad consumer base is seeking out supplements or functional beverages as additional support throughout their life to improve memory retention, focus, attention, task performance and overall longevity,” Tetzlaf states.

This emphasis on brain health is echoed by Elodie Macariou, Senior Product Manager at Lactalis Ingredients. She explains that longer life expectancy is driving consumers to work longer and to retire later. She notes that consumers are thus interested in not only having enough energy during the working day, but also in maintaining their brain health – creating a need for new products.

Tapping into this, the Algatech spokesperson notes that its AstaPure astaxanthin can also address cognitive function. Additionally, Evolva is promoting its ingredients Veri-te and Veri-Sperse resveratrol, which addresses a variety of needs, including brain health. Veri-Sperse launched last year and says that it is the first cold water dispersible form of resveratrol. Furthermore, Veri-te Aqua, which is water-soluble, is set to launch in the first half of this year.

Evolva launched Veri-Sperse resveratrol, which can address brain function, last year.Opportunity post-menopause
Tetzlaf highlights that the women’s health market is an area of continued growth. The age of menopause onset remains unchanged, with women spending longer in this stage of life than ever before, thanks to increased life expectancy. He notes that nearly a third of women rank menopause as a top health issue for them or someone close to them. This creates a major opportunity to cater to people looking to improve their quality of life.

To this end, Evolva supported a new study on resveratrol benefits in women called the Resveratrol Supporting Healthy Aging in Women (RESHAW) study, which was finalized in June 2019. “The RESHAW study is considered the largest and longest-running clinical study on the benefits of resveratrol. The study was a two-year follow-up of 125 postmenopausal women and was designed to investigate the impact of Veri-te resveratrol supplementation on cognitive performance. Also examined were a wide range of secondary outcomes, including body composition and perceptions of well-being, physical function and pain,” he explains.

The results are expected to be published early this year, with prior clinical studies showing that resveratrol supplementation may benefit cardiovascular, metabolic and brain health by improving circulatory function. RESHAW will also shed light on whether a low daily dose of resveratrol could boost blood flow in the brain, aid glucose metabolism, and reduce postmenopausal bone and muscle loss.

Water-tight testing for natural solutions
As digital technology is increasingly integrated into the lives of all generations, Macariou of Lactalis flags that the rise of screens such as computers and smartphones is also putting eye health in the spotlight. Addressing this, the Algatech spokesperson highlights that astaxanthin can help by protecting the eyes from the blue light radiation emitted by screens. “Studies have also shown that AstaPure astaxanthin protects eyes from the impairments of aging and assaults, such as from reactive oxygen species and DNA damage,” they detail.

ADM is also active in the algae space, with Patricia Martorell, Cell Biology Lab Manager explaining how the company tests bioactive properties of extracts obtained from micro and macroalgae. The extracts were evaluated for dermo-cosmetic applications, including anti-aging and protection against UV-radiation.

“We have been involved in different projects focused on aging as a primary health target. One example is the ‘H2020 Ageing with elegans’ project in which we have implemented a fully automated instrument that can measure health span, called ‘WorMotel.’ We then performed high throughput screening of natural products and plant extracts,” she explains.

The Ageing with elegans project is a collaboration funded by the European Commission and is examining C. elegans as a healthspan model for better understanding of the factors responsible for healthy aging. The consortium will then develop evidence-based prevention, diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

“As a result of our role within this space, we have gained expertise allowing us to develop novel screening tools based on robots for ingredient screening and evaluation. Last but not least, thanks to this technical expertise combined with our scientific background, we have acquired a better knowledge of new molecular pathways and biomarkers related with aging,” details Martorell.

Isabel Gomez, Lipofoods Marketing Manager, adds that there are market demands for natural and sustainable products. “In light of this, we are focusing on the development of microencapsulated botanical ingredients to provide consumers with holistic solutions for healthy aging and active living.”

She notes that a particular focus for the company is preserving the properties of botanical ingredients, which are sensitive to environmental stress during manufacturing, storage and consumption. Bioactivity is also important as it may be lost during digestion in the stomach and intestine.

Future forecast
Looking ahead, the attitude toward aging will likely continue to shift. “The biggest change I have seen is related to consumers’ awareness about their health and well-being and the growing commitment they have to it. For the future of the aging-well sector, I expect to continue to see an evolution in embracing aging with a positive attitude and the increasing demand for plant-based products in the market that provide clean, sustainable and ethical nutraceutical products,” details Gomez.

Tetzlaf notes that consumers are savvier and more educated than ever before, with the ability to access information while in the store or read consumer reviews while shopping online. “Consumers are also much more proactive at taking supplements to slow down the onset of aging. This proactive behavior is evidenced by the exponential growth of the beauty-from-within category, in which consumers want to keep their skin healthy and youthful before signs of aging start appearing,” he states.

This is echoed by Anne Louise Friis, Health & Performance Nutrition Manager at Arla Food Ingredients, who has noticed a shift from the treatment of disease to prevention, and toward holistic views of healthy living. “Both have resulted in a greater focus on dietary supplements, proteins, healthy fats and good carbs, all of which are important to a healthy diet regimen,” she concludes.

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