The search is on for ingredients that promote healthy ageing whilst ticking the natural, trustworthy and sustainable boxes
Recent years have seen a shift in mindset from lifespan to healthspan; in other words, from living longer to living better. As a result, consumers are turning to nutrition as a strategy for ageing healthily.
“The golden age of healthy ageing and longevity is just on the horizon and it all started with the paradigm shift away from just living longer to living better more meaningful lives,” says Max Weber, Category Manager, Baking and Snacks, at GoodMills Innovation.
Scientific advancement is supporting this shift by unlocking the dietary and lifestyle doors to healthy ageing, as Weber explains: “A wealth of new research exists on healthy ageing and researchers are working to discover new insights and develop interventions that enable people to live longer and healthier.
For example, researchers are currently investigating telomere length, DNA damage and inflammation as biomarkers to better understand ageing and develop efficacious interventions.”
It’s never too late … or too early
And healthy ageing is not just a focus for “old people.” According to Innova’s 2021 Health & Nutrition Survey, almost 50% of Generation Z consumers reported taking steps to age healthily from the age of 20. Taking nutritional action to stay healthy for longer is a trend that spans all age groups, making it a potentially huge target market for nutraceutical manufacturers.
“Market research shows that healthy ageing is a very relevant topic for all age groups, not just seniors. That's why we advise our customers to use a psychographic segmentation approach when it comes to finding the right audience for their product."
"Lifestyle consumers, for example, seem to be a natural target as maintaining their physical and cognitive health as they age is of high importance to them and they have the spending power to put it into practice,” says Weber.
At the same time, it is becoming increasingly apparent that to win consumer trust in an omnichannel world, nutraceutical brands have to be transparent. In Trust Transparency Center’s fourth annual survey of supplement users in the US, UK, and Germany, 66% of respondents indicated that transparency influences their purchase decisions.1
Nowhere to hide for ingredients
Consumers want to know how products are made, what ingredients they contain and how those ingredients are produced. They want natural. They want sustainable and they want health benefits. But, most of all, they want hard evidence.
“Clean and transparent labelling is a long-term growth trend that we see playing an increasingly important role in the healthy ageing segment,” confirms Weber.
One active ingredient that can support manufacturers in their quest to provide greater transparency to consumers is SpermidineEvo.
With strong science to support its role in cell regeneration, as well as wide-ranging natural, trustworthy and sustainability credentials, this wheat germ ingredient is the ideal foundation on which to build nutraceutical concepts targeting the lucrative healthy ageing sector.
What is spermidine?
Spermidine is a polyamine compound and a natural component of all living organisms. The name comes from the fact it was first detected in male seminal fluid; but, in fact, spermidine is present in all of the body’s cells.
Cell regeneration (known technically as autophagy) is an important process for healthy ageing and spermidine is the only endogenous substance that has a positive effect on this process.
“The effects that autophagy has on decelerating the ageing process are no hoax and are scientifically proven (Figure 1). Consequently, SpermidineEvo can play a vital role in maintaining good health and wellness in ageing societies by contributing to people’s autophagy,” explains Weber.
Figure 1: Phases of the autophagy process
As the body ages, its own production of spermidine decreases, which is why the consumption of dietary spermidine becomes more necessary. As the ageing body is also more susceptible to oxidative stress and inflammation, spermidine can play a valuable role in protecting cells from age-related damage.
The positive influence of dietary spermidine on cell regeneration is widely accepted and research is now elucidating its effects on specific health functions. There is a growing number of studies reporting the effects of spermidine on cardiovascular function, immunity, cellular health and longevity.
One of the most exciting areas of discovery is cognitive function: spermidine appears to have beneficial effects on age-related neurological disorders and helps to reduce the risk of age-related cognitive impairment.
In 2018, a human clinical trial investigated the effect of nutritional intervention with spermidine on memory loss in older adults at risk of dementia.2 The study found that memory performance improved after 3 months of spermidine supplementation compared with a placebo.
The researchers concluded that nutritional spermidine may be a potential intervention strategy to delay memory loss in older individuals with cognitive decline.
These findings were reinforced in a 2021 study in which researchers described the availability of nutritional spermidine in the diet as a “potent strategy” to prevent the course of age-related cognitive decline.3
This growing body of scientific evidence is driving interest in spermidine as an active ingredient for inclusion in healthy ageing products. According to Innova’s 2022 New Product Database, there was a 147% increase in the number of new product launches with spermidine as the main functional ingredient between 2017 and 2021.
However, not all sources of spermidine are created equal. And not all spermidine ingredients offer the same guarantees in terms of being natural, sustainable and efficacious.
Wonderful wheat germ: SpermidineEvo is derived from wheatgerm because it has the highest spermidine concentration of any foodstuff (higher than soybeans, buckwheat and rice). GoodMills Innovation monitors the spermidine content of different varieties of wheat grown in Europe and selects the highest quality varieties.
Chemical-free production: In contrast to the many active supplement ingredients that are synthetically produced or require solvent extraction, SpermidineEvo is produced by purely physical methods and involves no chemicals.
Drawing on its knowledge of sophisticated milling processes, GoodMills Innovation separates the germ from the bran and extracts the most functional fractions of the wheatgerm. This yields a natural high-purity spermidine concentrate that does not require regulation under the EU Novel Foods framework.
Evidence of efficacy
SpermidineEvo contains very high levels of natural, plant-sourced spermidine. It is supplied with a specified and guaranteed content of 500 mg of spermidine/kg — which is five times higher than standard spermidine ingredients.
Each batch is controlled for its spermidine content. Consequently, manufacturers using SpermidineEvo can be confident that their products satisfy nutritional claims such as “rich in spermidine.” As well as being a potent source of spermidine, SpermidineEvo is rich in essential nutrients such as vitamins E, B1, B2 and B6, folic acid, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc.
The high natural content of E and B vitamins protects cells from oxidative stress.
Upcycled ingredients that valorise by-products and waste materials are an emerging food industry trend that is gaining momentum. SpermidineEvo fits perfectly with this movement as, although it is by far the most nutritious component of the wheat kernel, wheatgerm has long been a by-product of flour production.
GoodMills “upcycles” wheatgerm into a value-adding ingredient that meets consumer demand for naturalness and intrinsic functionality.
As well as responding to consumer demand in terms of sustainability, chemical-free production and science-based evidence, SpermidineEvo meets product developers’ requirements for a versatile ingredient that is easy to work with.
The wheatgerm concentrate can be supplied in various formats for incorporation into tablets, capsules, gummies, powdered drinks and supplements, as well as protein bars.
Steering the healthy ageing trend
Researchers are continually discovering new insights and interventions that can help people to live longer and healthier. From an industry perspective, the challenge is to take this science and transform it into credible nutraceutical concepts that will win consumer trust. SpermidineEvo is one such vehicle that enables manufacturers to navigate this exciting trend.