Friday, October 6, 2017

Dairy Innovation Opportunity: Designing “Strong” Yogurt

At Health Ingredients Japan this past week, there were extensive discussions surrounding formulating foods for the aging population. Yogurt was identified as an attractive food to get pumped up with extra nutrition for smart aging. Let’s call this strong yogurt.

The concept is simple. As we age, the body needs help to function at its best. That help may come from foods such as yogurt.

According to a recent study published in the August 2017 issue of Osteoporosis International, greater yogurt consumption is associated with increased bone mineral density and physical function in older adults. Researchers correlated the intake of yogurt (any type) with bone mineral density in 4,300 older people in Ireland. After adjusting for body weight, physical activity, overall diet quality and other factors related to bone health, the researchers found that each additional weekly serving of yogurt was associated with higher bone mineral density, and thus a reduced risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Strong is the new skinny

If you have not noticed, there are very few overweight elderly people. Although maintaining a healthy weight helps with longevity, too skinny, a.k.a. frail, can be weakening. This is why building strength as one ages is important.

High-quality protein, such as that found in yogurt, is one of a number of strength-building nutrients. When combined with exercise, dietary protein helps reduce the risk of age-related muscle loss known as sarcopenia.

The active bacterial cultures, in particular those with probiotic functions, found in yogurt may also build strength. Some bacteria provide digestion benefits, while others boost immunity. Prebiotic fibers function as fuel for the probiotics. They also have their own positive impact on digestion. Some have been shown to improve absorption of calcium, further assisting with bone health.

Some fibers, namely chicory root fiber, may also assist with sugar reduction. Sugar content is an attribute yogurt manufacturers cannot ignore, as sugar content of flavored and fruited yogurts continues to be highly criticized. Clean-label reduction is important to maintain yogurt’s natural, simple, healthful halo.

According to a study from the University of Surrey published on September 18, 2017, by Clinical Science, healthy people who consume high levels of sugar are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The study found that a subject group of otherwise healthy men had increased levels of fat in their blood and fat stored in their liver after they had consumed a high-sugar diet.

The researchers’ findings provide new evidence that consuming high amounts of sugar can alter fat metabolism in ways that could increase risk of cardiovascular disease. And while most adults don’t consume the high levels of sugar used in the study, some children and teenagers may reach these levels of sugar intake by over-consuming soft drinks and sweets, and yes, even some yogurts. These findings support the belief that too much sugar is not good for the body.

This idea of strength and health is not new. It was back in 2003 when HealthFocus research identified the transition in healthy eating from simply removing negatives to adding positives. This transition showed the dynamic shift from avoidance to a proactive search for solutions and the compelling emergence from “better for you” to “good for you.”

A decade or so ago, HealthFocus first identified a change in direction in how consumers perceive their personal health. For many years prior, the percentage of the population that considered themselves in excellent/very good health was on a downward path. But beginning in 2006, HealthFocus saw this begin to reverse, and it continues to climb today. This higher self-evaluation of health reflects a shift in consumers’ confidence, a response to nutritional benefits and the beginning of recognizing the power—and strength—of total well-being and balance.

Less than five years ago, HealthFocus spoke aggressively about the emergence of protein as a more popular health-promoting nutrient, the darkening horizon for sweeteners and the formation of the eating clean revolution. Clean eating evolved from a growing consumer understanding that everything that goes into the body has implications, good and bad, short and long term. This includes the integral role of digestive health to total health and in building strength. Gut health was no longer about stomach-related problems or discomforts.

More currently, HealthFocus research shows that foods and beverages with GMOs are seen overwhelmingly as less healthy, less safe to eat and worse for the environment. This is the opinion of consumers, which is why many mainstream yogurt manufacturers—as compared to organic processors, as organic, by definition is non-GMO—are seeking out non-GMO ingredients.

“Consumer demand for non-GMO foods is on the rise and creating products that are in line with this trend is increasingly key to success for today’s producers,” says Carl Volz, president-America, Sensus, which now offers Non-GMO Project Verified chicory root fiber powders and syrups. “By enabling our customers to use a trusted and recognizable seal on pack, we can help them to provide consumers with greater transparency on ingredient sourcing and ultimately facilitate more non-GMO choices.” 

It’s time for the yogurt conversation to include strong yogurt. This is yogurt made with simple, good-for-you ingredients that build strength for healthy aging.

No comments:

Post a Comment