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Healthy Aging Goes Beyond Physical Health

Poor health does not have to be the dominant and limiting feature of older populations as eight out of ten consumers indicate they are taking more responsibility for their health compared to ten years ago.

With increasing age, numerous physiological changes occur and the risk of chronic disease increases; by 60, age-related losses include hearing, vision and movement, and chronic disease risk can include heart disease, stroke, respiratory disorders, cancer and dementia. Poor health does not have to be the dominant and limiting feature of older populations. Most of the health problems in older age are the result of chronic diseases, and many of these can be prevented or delayed by engaging in healthy behaviours.

The term ‘healthy ageing’ is widely used across the industry, but there is surprisingly little consensus on what this might comprise or how it might be defined or measured. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2007 Healthy Ageing Report defines healthy ageing as ‘the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age’.

Eight out of 10 consumers indicate they are taking more responsibility for their health compared to 10 years ago. The scope of healthy ageing is broadening, with the nutraceutical and functional food industries empowering consumers to look after themselves.

Retail sales of calcium supplements, vitamin D and glucosamine for bone and joint health reached €7.8 billion in 2016 and are expected to see a combined global compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3 percent over the 2016 to 2021 period. These categories present opportunities for nutraceutical companies, especially those specifically targeting women’s health and preventative care. As such, women’s bone and joint health is an opportunity and a driver for future consumer health products. This, added to the fact that, on average, women live 4.1 years longer than men, will establish the senior women segment as the fastest-growing market for healthy ageing products.

The growth strategy for consumer health sales needs to also incorporate the rise of the connected consumer. Connected consumers are increasingly looking for a more personalised experience and the ability to customise products based on their genetic information and data accumulated on their digital devices. The faster a company can figure out how to find and engage its connected customers, or create partnerships with companies already leading this space, the better the chances of success in this market.

The Japanese centenarian population has reached over 65,000, making it the country with the largest percentage of people over 100 years old. Their extraordinary longevity can be attributed to the Japanese diet, which includes a variety of fermented food which provide a variety of probiotics and prebiotics crucial to maintaining a healthy gut.

The human gut houses a complex community of microbes which interact with their hosts in many ways, resulting in significant effects on an individual’s health. One can benefit from gut bacteria without transplantation or ingesting them by consuming their fermented metabolites. By modulating fermentation parameters, precise metabolites with specific health benefits can be created to target certain health concerns like inflammation and oxidative stress.

Increasing knowledge of gut microbiota and fermentation provides new prospects for global health solutions and living longer and better.

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