Not surprisingly, given the global pandemic, immune health support is at the top of consumers’ minds at present. Here Anke Sentko, Vice President Regulatory Affairs & Nutrition Communication at BENEO discusses how the immune system can be supported and healthier ageing promoted using BENEO’s low glycaemic functional ingredients.
Consumers want to age more healthily
In a recent BENEO and Health Focus International survey[i], 85% of those aged 50 and over have shown a willingness to take charge of their health, realising that their short-term health depends on how well a person takes care of themselves. A key way of doing this is through changing what they eat and drink, with 30% of consumers aged 50+ saying that the primary reason for them choosing healthy foods and beverages is to ensure their future good health, with another 28% choosing these products to enhance their daily health.
Smart food choices strengthen the inner defence system
Supporting the immune system is a key part of healthier ageing. As well as sustaining the gut microbiome with gut-friendly foods containing prebiotics, a key recommendation to supporting immunity is to manage blood glucose levels. Traditionally, high blood glucose is linked to those with pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes, however, blood glucose levels also influence the innate immune system[ii]. This became very clear during the COVID-19 pandemic when researchers found that high blood glucose was a risk factor independent of diabetes[iii].
Having high blood glucose levels is closely linked with being overweight, obesity, metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, diabetes, coronary heart disease and more. An important way to address this is through a change of diet. Food choices and ingredients that can reduce the blood glucose response will become increasingly important, and low glycaemic functional ingredients, such as the balanced sugar isomaltulose[iv], are playing a growing part in this process.
BENEO’s low glycaemic functional ingredients
According to a consumer survey conducted by Insites Consulting[v] 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[vi]. 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 food 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 of isomaltulose, chicory root fibre (inulin, oligofructose) and isomalt functional ingredients in product development. With a low glycaemic profile, all of these ingredients can help in the creation of foods and beverages that promote blood sugar management.
BENEO’s Palatinose™ (isomaltulose) is a slow release sugar. It is made from sucrose which is 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. No wonder therefore that almost two thirds of European 55- to 75-year-olds[vii] 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.
BENEO’s sugar replacer Isomalt supports a low glycaemic diet by making tasty and enjoyable sugar-free confectionery and other food products possible. It is an almost non-digestible carbohydrate that provides half the calories of sugar, whilst having an almost negligible effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. Similar to Palatinose™, Isomalt also supports dental health and carries an EU health claim for being toothfriendly, as well as an US health claim for not promoting tooth decay.
Chicory root fibres, 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 fibre. At the same time, numerous studies have shown that prebiotic chicory root fibre nourishes the beneficial gut microbiota[viii], supports blood sugar management[ix] and weight management[x] together with digestive health[xi] and wellbeing[xii].
With COVID-19 driving consumers to boost their long-term health, immunity and mental stability, manufacturers are increasingly looking to functional ingredients, such as slow-release carbohydrates, to support consumer health goals. Working with food and drink providers worldwide, BENEO is well able to help producers create exciting solutions that promote long-term health, whilst offering immune support.
[i] Health Focus International, 2020 BENEO Healthy Ageing consumer research
[iii] Zhu B et al. (2020) Diabetes Res Clin Pract 168:108381. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7445136/pdf/main.pdf
Zhu L et al. (2020) Cell Metab. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413120302382?via%3Dihub
Carrasco-Sánchez et al. (2021) Ann Med 53(1):103–116. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7651248/pdf/IANN_53_1836566.pdf
[iv] Maresch CC, Petry SF, Theis S et al. (2017) Low glycemic index prototype isomaltulose – update of clinical trials. Nutrients 9(4): 381. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409720/
[vi] Source: Insites Consulting BENEO Consumer Research on Nutrition & Health, Q4 2020 (Asia, Europe) –Q2 2021 (US)
[vii] Source: Insites Consulting references BENEO’s Consumer Research on Health & Nutrition in Europe, 2020 Q: How appealing do you find Palatinose?
[viii] Collado Yurrita et al. (2014) systematic review and meta analysis
[ix] 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
[x] Kellow et al (2014) systematic review and meta analysis, O’Connor et al (2017) literature review
[xi] Collada Yurita et al (2014) systematic review and meta analysis, Skorka et al (2018) systematic review
[xii] Vandeputte D, Falony G, Vieira-Silva S, et al. Gut Published Online First: 17th February 2017 oi:10.1136/gutjnl-2016-313271