Personalised nutrition could be key to healthy ageing

23 May 2018

One size does not fit all when it comes to nutrition – and it is about to become a lot more targeted, as the industry responds to the shifting health needs of an ageing population.

Personalised nutrition could be key to healthy ageing

Personalised nutrition is an alternative to general dietary guidelines, basing recommendations on a person’s own specific needs rather than telling everyone to eat more fruits and vegetables, for example, or to reduce sugar and salt. The European Food4Me project has shown that people find it easier to improve their diet when advice is tailored to reflect their own needs, meaning that such an approach could be a more effective way to tackle chronic health problems.

Companies like Microsoft and Apple are already using technologies to link personal health and fitness data with information on food consumption, and adding in data on disease risk markers like cholesterol, blood sugar and mental wellbeing could raise flags about personal risk levels. This could give a clearer picture of how certain foods affect an individual’s health, and allow people to respond accordingly.

Some major ingredients companies are already active in the sector, including ADM, which partnered with Mayo Clinic in personalised nutrition focused on gut health in September 2017. And DSM collaborated with the University Medical Center Groningen in early 2015 to determine how nutrient status affects health among different populations, such as those with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity. The aim is to provide clues as to why some people develop chronic diseases, while others stay healthy into old age.

As results from this kind of research emerge, food and drink companies will be better placed to respond effectively to individuals’ specific dietary concerns as they get older.

Good nutrition over a lifetime is still the best way to ensure long-term health, but dietary interventions later in life can have a significant effect, to delay the onset of osteoporosis, for example, or to slow the loss of muscle mass.

DSM has also examined how supplementation could tackle a range of conditions associated with ageing, including antioxidants to help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and omega-3 fatty acids to reduce heart attack risk.

However, nutrition is just one part of the picture when it comes to personalising food for better health. Among the elderly, decreased appetite and food intake is common, often leading to malnutrition, weight loss, and a range of poor health outcomes. Personalised food for the elderly must therefore take into account attributes beyond nutrition, such as flavour and food preferences, if it is to be beneficial.

Although personalised nutrition has yet to enter the mainstream, the European Union has signalled that it recognises the sector’s mainstream potential. Last year, it earmarked €2.8 million for small and medium-sized enterprises working on personalised nutrition projects for the elderly under its EU Horizon 2020 Program. SMEs can apply for up to €60,000 each under its INCluSilver project to boost innovation in the sector and help companies scale up their concepts.

Food companies are poised to play an important role in safeguarding European health as the population ages, and as our understanding deepens about the interplay between food and health.

Related categories

Related tags

Blogs

Related news

Spotlight on eye health ingredients

Spotlight on eye health ingredients

11 Feb 2020

The market for eye health ingredients and products has been rising over the past few years, as an ageing global population has coincided with increased consumer interest in nutrition-based prevention of age-related conditions.

Read more 
Meat snacks answer consumer protein demand

Meat snacks answer consumer protein demand

11 Feb 2020

Plant-based protein is one of industry’s hottest trends, but broader interest in high protein foods means meat snacking is also on the rise – and the range of convenience meat products available has multiplied.

Read more 
How credible are weight management ingredients?

How credible are weight management ingredients?

3 Feb 2020

Weight management is one of the most in-demand areas for functional ingredients – but some compounds are more promising than others.

Read more 
Low sugar trend boosts bulk sweetener innovation

Low sugar trend boosts bulk sweetener innovation

3 Feb 2020

Use of bulk sweeteners in new products is on the rise, largely driven by consumer interest in sugar-free and lower sugar products.

Read more 
How realistic are sustainable palm oil goals?

How realistic are sustainable palm oil goals?

27 Jan 2020

For many food and beverage companies 2020 was a target for sourcing 100% sustainable palm oil, but few have succeeded. What is holding them back?

Read more 
Spotlight on the health halo of green tea

Spotlight on the health halo of green tea

27 Jan 2020

Green tea has gained an enormous amount of attention for its high antioxidant content, and new studies continue to back multiple benefits for the beverage and its extracts – despite uncertainty over how these benefits are delivered.

Read more 
Could revised calorie content boost nut consumption?

Could revised calorie content boost nut consumption?

20 Jan 2020

Researchers from the USDA have discovered that tree nuts like almonds, cashews and pistachios may have fewer calories than previously thought, and food firms are starting to reflect this on pack. Could fewer calories prompt consumers to eat more nuts?

Read more 
Healthy indulgence: Using fibre to cut sugar in chocolate

Healthy indulgence: Using fibre to cut sugar in chocolate

20 Jan 2020

Fibres have promise for creating reduced sugar products, and a new patented technology based on corn fibre is said to tackle some common technical problems, as well as digestive effects.

Read more 
Quest for anti-ageing ingredients boosts collagen demand

Quest for anti-ageing ingredients boosts collagen demand

13 Jan 2020

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, but production slows down with ageing, leading to weaker joints and skin wrinkles – and increased demand for collagen as an ingredient in food, drinks and supplements.

Read more 
Taking an innovative approach to sugar reduction

Taking an innovative approach to sugar reduction

13 Jan 2020

The trend toward lower sugar products continues to grow – but manufacturers should be aware of the limits on consumer acceptance of reduced sugar foods and drinks.

Read more