Active Longevity and Adequate Nutrition

November 1, 2022

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Thanks to social, economic, health and education changes, people over the age of 60 have achieved active longevity through adequate nutrition.

The “Silver Generation” has several other habits focused on healthy aging.  Currently, this population – who does not like to be called elderly – represents almost 18% of Brazilians and is responsible for about 20% of consumption in the country.

Significant numbers that, according to the WHO´s projections, will only increase in the coming decades. Even so, “mature” people, as they prefer to be called, report that they feel neglected by certain sectors, including food and beverage.

So, a perception that serves as an alert and that requires a fresh approach from brands to better understand this phase of life in this new time and meet their needs.

THE CONCEPT OF ACTIVE LONGEVITY

It is necessary to redefine how aging and adequate nutrition is a fundamental part of this process. “Active longevity” is one of the terms that most represent this new mentality. Thus, according to the WHO, it translates as “the process of developing and maintaining functional capacity that enables well-being in older age.”

Thus, elderly people are increasingly in search of lifestyles that allow their active participation in several areas. Therefore, the silver generation does not want to be seen as a burden on others, but rather as contributors to society and as healthy and independent people. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPER NUTRITION

Therefore, for active aging, it is essential to incorporate healthy habits into your routine. Precautions such as these add a number of benefits to body health and integrity, such as better mental health, nights with better quality sleep, greater disposition, weight control, stronger immune system and improved mood.

In this sense, adequate nutrition has a fundamental role, since, in order to function properly, our body demands several specific nutrients. For example, calcium and vitamin D for bone health, fiber for the gut and protein for the muscles. 

KEY NUTRIENTS 

It is necessary to remember that aging is associated with senescence, which is the natural process of a variety of changes that occur in the body over time, such as lower collagen production and lower stomach acidity, among others.

In this process, some of these physiological changes can make the body prone to nutritional deficiencies. Ingestion of the proper amount of certain nutrients becomes even more important

– Fibers: with aging there is also a reduction in intestinal motility, making elderly people more prone to constipation. Fibers can assist in the proper functioning of the intestine and avoid this process.  In addition, soluble fibers, such as beta-glucans, can be allies in reducing blood glucose and cholesterol.

– Vitamin B12: at this stage, it is also possible to have difficulty absorbing certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12, which can lead to anemia, weakness and fatigue.

– Calcium and vitamin D: Older adults need to pay more attention to the consumption of calcium and vitamin D to maintain strong and healthy bones, preventing osteopenia (decreased bone mass), which can lead to osteoporosis, also reducing the risks of falls and fractures. 

– Potassium: it is responsible for decreasing the amount of sodium in the body and also acts to combat constipation. It is common for elderly people to take medications to control hypertension, medications that normally have a diuretic function and cause the loss of this mineral.

– Omega 3: some other nutrients are important in this phase, such as antioxidants and omega 3, which in addition to being anti-inflammatory, is good for brain health.

– Protein: essential nutrient for the formation, maintenance and health of body tissues, such as skin, hair, nails and muscles. However, with advanced age, there is an increase in the loss of muscle mass, also called sarcopenia, making adequate nutrition with the consumption of proteins fundamental.

MUSCLE MASS AND SARCOPENIA

One of the most common physiological changes associated with aging is sarcopenia.  It is a syndrome characterized by the generalized and progressive loss of muscle mass, strength and quality of muscle. It may compromise the quality of life of older adults.

Currently, sarcopenia affects about 5% to 13% of people over 60 years of age and up to 50% of those over 80 years of age.  In Brazil, women are more affected than men (20% versus 12%). 

Due to the immense demand, this is an area that requires innovation in nutraceuticals and supplements. This is because it is not always possible to achieve all needs from food alone. Supplements are a great alternative to replenish and reinforce the amount of nutrients for the body. 

According to market research company Euromonitor International, strengthening and resistance are the main reasons why people over 60 years old consume food supplements.

However, there are several other effects that can be explored. Such as strengthening the immune system, bone, joint, muscle, cognitive, cardiac, skin, ocular and digestive health. So, a large food industry, for example, invested in producing food supplements and achieved significant growth in its results.

Altogether, the brand’s lines increased by 39% in its sales in the first half of 2020, when compared to the same period in 2019. In the case of the exclusive brand for elderly people, the growth was 43.4% while the market had an increase of 23.4%, according to data from the company and Nielsen consulting firm. 

So, other innovation strategies that food manufacturers are developing are products, such as gels, dairy drinks and yogurts with important nutrients for bones, muscles, joints and cognition, such as protein, collagen, calcium, vitamin D and lactose-free. Check out a few:

BAKOMA SENIOR ACTIVE PEACH FLAVOR
In March 2018, Polish dairy company Bakoma launched a yogurt line for elderly people. These dairy drinks do not contain lactose and are enriched with calcium and vitamin D.
PROTEIN ON THE GO GEL
In the United States, the PRONATIV brand, from Lactalis Ingredients, developed a fruit gel with high protein value, made with 10% high quality native whey protein.
BOOST DRINK
Nestlé, in Europe, launched Boost, a high-protein drink, which provides 27 vitamins and minerals. It contains 20g of proteins, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, B vitamins, vitamins C and D, zinc, iron and selenium.
NATURAL SHAKE
Purition is a British brand that manufactures protein shakes without isolated micronutrients, only natural whole food ingredients such as seeds and oilseeds.

So, even if specific products are still lacking, the market for elderly people is a universe of opportunities. In other words, an excellent scenario to create and innovate!

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