Our children’s generation will have a life expectancy much greater than our own, but what part will the natural products industry play in keeping them healthy enough to enjoy those later years?
Spare a thought for the monarch of 2113. He or she will barely have time to practice waving as they’ll be far too busy writing birthday telegrams to the 33% of the population expected to reach 100 that year. Between 1901 and 2010 the number of people over 40 has trebled from 9.7 million to 30.8 million, and in 2007 the number of people in Britain aged over 65 outnumbered those under 16 for the first time (source: 21st Century Challenges, Royal Geographical Society).
Add to the mix a birth rate which was, until recently, in decline, and you have a Britain on the brink of a significant change in its demographic make-up. And this change may have far-reaching consequences given that in 2013 there were four people of working age supporting each pensioner, whereas by 2050 there will be two.
So if services such as the NHS are going to find themselves stretched, what does this mean for the natural products industry? And what will this mean for the pensioners of tomorrow?
Terranova Nutrition founder Stephen Terrass says that the good news is that older consumers seem far more informed than their predecessors: “This trend toward more self-empowerment will continue, and most of all I believe that people will continue to ‘think younger’ in general, which, of course, will make them maintain habits previously seen only with younger people.”
Terrass says he thinks that the health food industry has been extremely effective in not only servicing this trend but also acting as a catalyst. “Because the Internet is a source of both reliable and unreliable wellness information, the independent health food store has been an even more important ally to seniors in helping them decipher the conflicting information and advice the digital arena provides.”
Cytoplan managing director Amanda Williams agrees that there is an increasing awareness of the role of nutrition in health, and that, for many, dietary intake of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids is insufficient for health and protection.
“Sales of health supplements are greatest in the over-45 age group because ageing naturally brings with it more ailments. Concomitantly increased awareness has brought with it a desire for ‘self-empowerment’ for one’s own health, and this is reflected in far more educational material in circulation and higher sales of natural supplements,” she says.
Williams believes the trend towards natural nutrients is likely to continue and bring with it greater supplement sales in certain products areas, but that in addition it will “help create better products, as consumers are also becoming critical about formulations and their efficacy, and are scrutinizing additives”.
Down to the bone
According to Pharma Nord medical advisor Dr David Mantle, age-related changes within the body begin surprisingly early in life.
“A good example is bone metabolism,” he says. “Bones are at their strongest during a person’s mid-twenties; by the mid-thirties bones gradually start to become weaker and more fragile due to a decline in function of bone-producing cells.”
This process continues increasing steadily with age and can result in the condition of osteoporosis. Approximately three million people in the UK are estimated to suffer from osteoporosis, although Mantle points out that many are unaware of this until they suffer a bone fracture. About one quarter of a million fractures resulting from osteoporosis each year.
“Women are at increased risk of osteoporosis after the menopause, due to decreased levels of the hormone oestrogen, which has an important role in maintaining bone health” he says.
The nutrition factor
At the heart of many of the disorders experienced in later life, says Mantle, is malnutrition, the risk of which increases with age, with up to two-thirds of older adults in the UK estimated as being malnourished or at risk of deficiency in one or more key nutrients, with deficiencies in vitamin D, vitamins B1, B2, B12, calcium, magnesium and selenium being a particular public health concern.
“Most of these nutrients have multiple roles within the body. For example vitamin D has an important role in normal bone function, muscle function, cardiovascular function and immune function. Similarly, magnesium is important for the body’s energy production, as well as normal muscle function, nerve function and bone structure. “
Other key nutrients that decline with age include coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and glucosamine. Terrass says that Glucosamine, Boswellia & MSM Complex and Tart Cherry, Nettle & Turmeric Super-Blend are the company’s most popular joint health products: “The company has also seen an incredible increase in the use of our systemic enzyme formulation, Pro-Peptase IRC Complex.”
Yet further problems may lie with a reduction of gastric hydrochloric acid production. “The action of stomach acid on ingested food is important for the bioavailability of a number of essential nutrients, for example vitamin B12, calcium and iron,” says Mantle.
“The supplementation of such nutrients should be considered in patients prescribed proton pump inhibitor drugs to reduce stomach acid secretion. Vitamin B12 absorption may also be deficient because of reduced levels of intrinsic factor (pernicious anaemia), which is produced by the same gastric cells that secrete hydrochloric acid. The absorption of many nutrients from the intestinal tract typically declines with age, including calcium.”
Mantle points to multiple clinical studies which have demonstrated that oral supplementation can improve the quality of life in the elderly at risk
of malnutrition. For example, supplementation with magnesium has been shown to prevent or delay age-related decline in physical performance in healthy
elderly women (Veronese et al, 2014).
glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate has been shown to provide significant symptomatic benefit in older adults with osteoarthritis of the knee (Tsuji et al, 2015; Kongtharvonskul et al, 2015). Long-term supplementation with coenzyme Q10 (Bio-Quinone Active Q10) and selenium (SelenoPrecise) was reported in a ground-breaking study called KISEL-10 to reduce the risk of cardiovascular-related mortality in the normal elderly population by more than 50% (Alehagen et al, 2013).
And in patients with chronic heart failure, supplementation with coenzyme Q10 (Bio-Quinone Active Q10) reduced the risk of cardiovascular mortality by 43% (Mortensen et al, 2014).
Terrass points out that health food retailers are much more inclined to embrace change than retailers within more conventional industries, and that this will serve them well with the oncoming demographic changes faced within the UK and indeed worldwide.
“They have evolved a great deal over the 35 years I’ve been in the industry, and stores which constantly evolve automatically improve how effectively they serve an ever-changing society. I anticipate that the most profound evolution that will be required to deal with the higher and higher percentages of older people we will see in the coming years will be in terms of versatility.”
He says that a wide
variety of foods (especially superfoods) will become increasingly important as people better integrate diet and supplementation into their lives. “I also expect that offering holistic services, classes (yoga, meditation, etc) and so on will increasingly give stores offering them an advantage as they become a magnet for the increasing number of older people who are progressive in their mindset about health and wellness. And the greater the percentage of older people in society, the more they will influence trends in younger people, rather than just the other way around.”
Williams says that the best health food retailers can do is stay on top of customer requirements, the changing market and growing consumer self-empowerment. “They need to keep educated and be as knowledgeable as they can about their products, and most particularly indications that constitute good advice but also contraindications, so that any advice given is always both effective and safe. This will bring with it a growing confidence from consumers, which in turn is likely to translate in greater sales for retail outlets.”
Dealing with dementia
According to managing director of Cytoplan, Amanda Williams, dementia will be one of the priorities in age-related conditions for the coming years. Currently Alzheimer’s disease is the most frequent cause of age-related cognitive decline:
30 million people are affected globally (likely to be 160 million by 2050)
• It is the third leading cause of death in US
• It is the third leading cause of death for UK women (eighth for UK men)
• 65% of those affected are women
• A woman in the Western world has a greater chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease than breast cancer
• Alzheimer’s disease is often due to lifestyle/diet errors – only a small percentage is due to/aggravated by genetic predisposition
• Alzheimer’s disease has the potential to bankrupt the NHS
• There is an urgent need for preventative strategies.
“There has been recent research from the US demonstrating absolutely that diet and lifestyle are at the heart of the susceptibility for this cond-
ition and that prevention and reversal are indeed possible if people embrace a programme of optimum diet and lifestyle,” says Williams. “The reality is that most chronic diseases arise because we are living out of context with our genes. Our genes evolved when we were hunter gatherers and are relatively unchanged, but our diet and lifestyle have changed dramatically and we are in essence “fish out of water”. It is this mismatch that gives rise to most of the chronic diseases of today. But this can be changed by living the lifestyle and eating the food our genes are programmed to need for health.”
The company is currently working with Professor Dale Bredesen from the US on his programme for reversal of cognitive decline and will be conducting UK-based research using his protocols.
Senior Probio™ – Optimum Gut Health
With aging comes an increased susceptibility to infectious, decreased gastrointestinal function, and increased antibiotic use that can lead to diarrhoea and other intestinal ailments. HealthAid SeniorProbio, is a unique formulation especially for seniors; containing a superior blend of 30 billion viable bacterial strains; fortified with a prebiotic (FOS), to maintain a healthy intestinal flora which is usually offset with age. HealthAid® uses special acid & bile resistant strains, which prevent the stomach juices destroying the ingredients before they reach the intestines, ensuring their purity and potency. SeniorProbio™ retails at £24.99 for 30 Vegetarian Capsules.
Ultimate Flora Critical Care
As we age, studies show that levels of Bifidobacteria in the gut decline, while pathogenic bacteria in the gut increase – this is one of the main reasons why digestive problems increase as we age. Each capsule of Ultimate Flora Critical Care contains 30 billion Bifidobacteria and 20 billion Lactobacilli live bacteria, making it the most complete and effective probiotic on the market. Ideal for anyone age 50+, after antibiotics, all digestive problems and low immunity. A unique enteric coating delivery system ensures the probiotics are not destroyed by stomach acid and arrive alive to the intestinal tract.
Nature’s Answer Glucosamine & Chondroitin
Nature’s Answer Glucosamine Chondroitin with MSM formula combines Glucosamine with other substances important for the resiliency and maintenance of health cartilage, such as Chondroitin, MSM and other joint friendly nutrients. Quik-Sorb® is an exclusive blend of herbs known to enhance delivery of nutrients to the body. Glucosamine increases the formation of lubrication materials inside the joints and slows the activity of enzymes that cause joint destruction as well as aiding joint repair. Chondroitin sulfate helps cartilage retain water. Clinical studies of glucosamine have demonstrated it is effective treatment for helping with symptoms linked to joint and muscle pain.
Adult Acidophilus & Bifidus – 25 Billion
An increasing body of research suggests that chronic stress can change the diversity of bacteria in the gut and that healthy gut bacteria may affect mental health and wellbeing. The research has shown that there is a difference in the composition of the gut microbiota in those with depressive disorders compared to those without.
The gut bacteria are influenced by what we eat and a natural, plant-based diet will support healthy gut diversity. This can be supported with ProVen Probiotics for Adults, which contains the Lab4 group of four strains of friendly bacteria, shown in clinical studies to support the gut.
Terranova Glucosamine Boswellia & Turmeric Complex
Terranova Glucosamine Boswellia & Turmeric Complex is a scientifically based formulation of nutrients for joint support, enhanced with highly active, whole and unadulterated superfoods and botanicals. Key ingredients include – Boswellia Resin and Nettle Leaf, research has found that compounds in these ingredients may help maintain healthy inflammatory and circulatory responses in joint tissue; Turmeric Leaf, with potent antioxidant properties; Ginger, to support inflammatory, pain and circulatory response; Celery Stalk & Leaf, abundant in free radical scavenging antioxidants; and Stabilised Rich Bran, which features more than 100 known antioxidants. All Terranova products are vegan and made with no fillers, binders or excipients.