I have been taking dietary supplements and consuming functional foods for more than two decades now. People laugh when they visit my house and see all the bottles and canisters lying around. I must take 75 pills a day along with powders of all kinds.
So, when I hear of a compelling new nutrient or innovation I am always very curious. What does it do? What are the benefits? Is it supported by legitimate science? You know the drill. As 2016 winds down, I found the following 3 trends very compelling over the past year:
According to Global Market Insights, Inc., the protein ingredient market is expected to reach US$43.3 billion by 2024. And 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 has forecast compound annual growth of 5.7 percent between 2015 and 2020.
From pea protein 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.
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 the most filling 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 the more generally active, rather than just world-class athletes.
One statement that has always resonated with me was made by a health professional on a radio show I used to host. “Health begins in the gut," he roared! And no truer words were said. Better digestive health equals better overall health—period.
Probiotics have been a major nutraceutical industry focus throughout 2016. From innovative studies, including a recently released Japanese study indicating new evidence supporting the link between certain probiotics strains and weight loss to innovative new products including probiotic waters, probiotics have continued to break new ground.
Despite the fact there are numerous delivery systems for probiotics, according to SPINS, the old-fashioned veggie cap continues to be the workhorse bringing in nearly $73 million in annual revenue. SPINS data also indicates that regular capsules, chewable tablets and liquids aren’t far behind.
Regardless of the delivery system, it seems clear that, in recent years, the demand for probiotics has moved well beyond the scope of digestive health, making its way into everything from sports nutrition to women’s health. And this is probably only the beginning.
Turmeric and curcumin have been making headlines throughout 2016. Curcumin is a naturally occurring chemical compound that is found in the spice turmeric. The two words are sometimes used interchangeably, but the technical difference between the two is that turmeric is the yellowish powder used to flavor foods, while curcumin is a chemical contained within turmeric. In Indian and Asian cultures, turmeric and curcumin have a long history of use as a traditional herbal medicine. Western medicine is beginning to study the potential of turmeric in treating diseases such as arthritis, cancer and diabetes.
In fact, several studies suggest curcumin might ease symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, including pain and inflammation. Moreover, these potent anti-inflammatory benefits seem to be quite protective against some forms of cancer progression. However, curcumin has additional anti-cancer effects that are independent of its anti-inflammatory effects and thus is a heavily researched molecule for both cancer prevention and treatment.
Studies have shown that curcumin helps prevent several forms of cancer including breast, lung, stomach, liver and colon. It stops the development of cancer by interfering with the cellular signaling aspects of this chronic disease.
Interestingly, my research unveiled that curcumin has "smart kill" properties that actually work to inhibit the growth of tumors and the spread of cancer in fundamental ways at the cellular level. It has the laboratory-proven capability to inhibit a particular cancer-promoting enzyme (COX-2), impede blood supply to cancer cells, induce tumor-suppressing genes, stop metastasis, kill lymphoma cells and prevent the regrowth of cancer stem cells.
The ability to target cancer stem cells is one of curcumin’s most powerful anti-cancer properties. In fact, according to GreenMedInfo.com, a recent study describes the wide range of molecular mechanisms presently identified by which curcumin attacks cancer stem cells (CSCs), which are the minority subpopulation of self-renewing cells, within a tumor colony. These stem cells alone are capable of producing all the other cells within a tumor, making them the most lethal, tumoriogenic of all cells within most, if not all, cancers. Because CSCs are resistant to chemotherapy, radiation, and may even be provoked towards increased invasiveness through surgery, they are widely believed to be responsible for tumor recurrence and the failure of conventional cancer treatments. These are compelling findings indeed.
Bottom line, while turmeric and curcumin may not be true newcomers to the health and wellness scene, all signs currently point to another year under the nutritional spotlight.
As 2016 winds down, I thought the above trends were particularly compelling. In fact, these trends look to evolve into 2017 and beyond. That said, the legitimate conclusion on the efficacy of any nutrient is generally based on a body of research, which is constantly evolving. I look forward to seeing the new breakthroughs in 2017 and beyond. Keep in mind that science does not progress by dramatic breakthroughs, but by taking many small steps, slowly building towards legitimate findings. Ultimately, when these findings have been genuinely established, we will all realize the benefits in the years to come.
Mark Becker is an Account Manager for Vivion, a raw materials distributor, based in Vernon, California. 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 and homeopathic regimen to support his athletic, professional and personal endeavors. Follow Mark Becker on Facebook and Twitter. For more information, access www.vivioninc.com or www.EnergyatLast.com.