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Nutrition Trends in 2017

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by Mark Becker -

I love this time of year. I look to reinvent myself from a health perspective in an effort to continue to escalate my health. This year was a challenge for me. For the first time ever, at the age of 56, I had a surgery. Thirty-five years of endurance racing wore out my left hip. I had full hip replacement surgery in June 2017. Nonetheless, these challenges only fuel my desire to be the best healthy person I can be. Life and health is about making adjustments and evolving.

So, when I hear of a compelling new health trend I am always very curious. How does this impact me? What are the benefits? Is it supported by legitimate science? You know the drill. As 2017 winds down, I found the following three trends very compelling over the past year.

Organic

I know that it seems we have been talking about organic for the past several years. However, I felt compelled to highlight the organic trend as it is truly out of control. As more people, especially millennials, realize how pesticides and nutrition impact health, they demand food that is healthier and more nutritious. This has translated into a robust organic industry that has experienced double-digit growth annually.

In fact, according to a Grand View Research Inc., the global organic food and beverage market is expected to reach US$320.5 billion by 2025. Growing popularity of non-GMO (genetically modified organism) products among consumers and the health benefits associated with their consumption, is expected to drive the demand. 

Additional highlights from the Grand View Research report include:

  • The global organic food market was valued at $77.4 billion in 2015 and is expected to see the highest growth in Asia Pacific from 2018 to 2025.
  • Fruits and vegetables emerged as the largest organic food product segment in 2015 and is estimated to generate revenues of more than $110 billion by 2025.
  • The beverage market is estimated to exceed $55 billion by 2025, and is anticipated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.1 percent over the next nine years.
  • Coffees and teas are expected to emerge as the fastest growing sector with a CAGR of more than 15 percent from 2018 to 2025.
  • The United States is the largest market in North America and was valued more than $40 billion in 2015. As previously mentioned, the growing popularity of non-GMO products is expected to drive demand.

Plant Proteins

According to Global Market Insights Inc., the protein ingredient market is expected to reach $43.3 billion by 2024. Plant proteins are a major part of this growth. Plant protein is projected to reach a global value of more than $10 billion by 2020. In fact, Mordor Intelligence forecast compound annual growth of 5.7 percent between 2015 and 2020.

From pea to hemp proteins, an ever increasing number of plant-based protein sources are being introduced into the marketplace that offer quality nutrition, taste and sustainability at the same time.

Given consumer desires to moderate animal-based protein consumption combined with environmental concerns, the use of plant-based proteins offers a viable alternative across multiple existing and new product categories. What’s more, protein is the powerhouse macronutrient that research suggests is most effective when it comes to satisfying hunger, which is particularly important within the context of the global obesity epidemic. Formulating and marketing foods and beverages that leverage plant-based proteins presents an opportunity for global growth.

According to Innova Market Insights, the protein trend is driven by increasing health concerns— primarily weight management—plus the move of sports and performance products into mainstream consumption. These products are now targeting people who are generally active, rather than just world-class athletes.

Cardiovascular Health Solutions

The increasing incidence of lifestyle-based conditions—most notably, those conditions that impact cardiovascular health, obesity and blood sugar—has compelled consumers to increasingly consider natural solutions for their particular health challenges. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cardiovascular events are a leading cause of death in the United States. And cardiovascular disease can impact people of all ages and backgrounds.   

According to June 2015 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Baby Boomer generation is 75.4 million people strong. Many are now entering retirement. As the invincibility of youth gives way to middle-age decline, and then to the reality of aging, cardiovascular health remains a focus of many “boomers." Everyone understands the importance of eating nutritious foods. A healthy diet impacts weight, energy level and, ultimately, cardiovascular health. However, in this day and age of mostly processed foods, what are we really putting into our bodies?

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) at the National Institutes of Health, one in three American adults takes at least one dietary supplement each day. And 50 percent take a multivitamin daily. Overall, in 2015, Americans spent more than $21 billion annually on vitamins and minerals. Heart health supplements top the list. They range from fish oil to flaxseed oil to artichoke and garlic extracts. Is there any evidence that these really work? Can they really lower LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or “bad") cholesterol or triglycerides—or raise HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or “good") cholesterol? Which supplements should you consider taking for cardiovascular benefits? Interestingly, according to recent research by Innova Market Insights, the number of supplements with a heart health positioning grew 71 percent from 2011 to 2015. Predictions also point to heart health as a key trend to watch in the near future. 

That said, what is fueling the cardiovascular health crisis? Well, in a word: “oxidation." Or, more specifically, “cholesterol oxidation."

Cholesterol oxidation in the arteries causes buildup of LDL cholesterol, which, in turn, causes the arteries to narrow, increasing the risk for a cardiovascular event. Although the process is complex, health professionals believe oxidation starts slowly when certain factors damage the inner layers of the arteries. Over time, the arteries harden and begin to narrow, which restricts the normal flow of fresh, oxygen-rich blood.

Having cardiovascular risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean you will develop serious cardiovascular problems. But it does mean you may need to be more aggressive in managing cholesterol to prevent problems from occurring. In addition to making important lifestyle changes such as eating a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, exercising regularly, losing weight, and not smoking, a doctor may recommend a lower target for your LDL cholesterol. Those at risk for oxidation, including those with a genetic predisposition, should aim for an LDL of 70 mg/dL.

Finally, as we get older, the likelihood of oxidation in the arteries increases. This is especially true for men older than 45 years and women who have gone through menopause, which is usually around 55 years. Women’s risk for cardiovascular issues increases at this time because their estrogen levels drop. If women go through menopause earlier, they may also develop arterial problems earlier.

In addition to an increased threat to cardiovascular health, the likelihood of developing health conditions that contribute to arterial health also creeps up with age. These include high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. Also, the hereditary component can increase the chance of passing a cardiovascular profile from generation to generation. This is especially true if family members had heart attacks or other incidents at an early age.

Keep in mind that, with age, developing high cholesterol and other risk factors is inevitable. There are healthy lifestyle habits, including eating a good diet, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight that can help reduce the risk. It’s also smart to work closely with a doctor and watch for possible risk factors. Many health professionals recommend getting cholesterol levels checked every five years beginning at 20 years, and more often after 45 years.

The good news is certain supplements really do promote cardiovascular health—and have been clinically validated. There are several very effective supplements for heart health. That said, there is a new breakthrough for combating cardiovascular oxidation. Flavonoid root, a relatively unknown ingredient, is supported by new science that provides compelling antioxidant properties and powerful cardiovascular health benefits. The ingredient is in the form of a unique extract that comes from this natural ingredient. 

Recently, the results from a double-blind, placebo-controlled study were published in Food and Nutrition Research.

The study examined the effect of a unique flavonoid root extract on the thickness of the artery wall (carotid intima-media thickness, or CIMT) in individuals with increased oxidation in the arteries. CIMT is considered a strong biomarker of overall cardiovascular and arterial health.

People with increased oxidation—total cholesterol greater then 240 mg/dL—were randomly allocated to two groups as follows: an experimental group that received 200 mg of the flavonoid root extract and a placebo group. Ninety-four subjects completed the trial. After one year, the study yielded the following results:

  • In the experimental group, the thickness of artery (CIMT) decreased from 0.92 mm to 0.84 mm. In the placebo group, CIMT increased from 0.85 to 0.88.
  • In the experimental group, total cholesterol decreased from 284 to 262 mm/dL. In the placebo group, total cholesterol decreased from 291 to 289 mm/dL 
  • In the experimental group, the LDL cholesterol decreased from183 to 173 mm/dL. In the placebo group, the LDL cholesterol increased from 177 to 179 mm/dL.
  • HDL or good cholesterol did not change in either group
  • In the experimental group, systolic blood pressure decreased from 138 to 125 mm Hg. In the placebo group, systolic blood pressure increased from 136 to 137 mm Hg.
  • In the experimental group, diastolic blood pressure decreased from 92 to 84 mm Hg. In the placebo group, diastolic blood pressure increased from 89 to 90 mm Hg.

These results were extremely compelling. Following one year of flavonoid root extract consumption, mean CIMT, total cholesterol, LDL levels and blood pressure decreased. This suggests this ingredient may attenuate the development of oxidation and of related cerebral vascular issues.  

The diversity and complexity of health trends are causing categories to fragment and are leading to a proliferation of new niches and new brands to serve them. This will create opportunity for product development teams at health companies worldwide. As 2017 winds down, I thought the above trends were particularly compelling. In fact, based on the overwhelming metrics, these trends look to continue into 2018 and beyond.

Mark Becker is an account manager for Vivion, a raw materials distributor, based in Vernon, CA. He has worked as a natural products sales and marketing executive for 20 years. Mark has written more than 300 articles and has hosted or been a guest on more than 500 radio shows. He obtained a bachelor's in journalism from Long Beach State University and did his Master’s work in communications at Cal State Fullerton. For more than 30 years he has participated in numerous endurance events, including more than 150 triathlons of Olympic distance or longer, 103 marathons and numerous other events including ultramarathons and rough water swims from Alcatraz to the mainland. He has relied on a comprehensive dietary supplement regimen to support his athletic, professional and personal endeavors. Follow Mark Becker on Facebook and on Twitter. For more information, access www.vivioninc.com, www.alliedbionutrition.com or www.energyatlast.com.

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