Andrea Zangara, Head of Scientific Communications and Marketing at Euromed discusses proven botanical extracts for innovative new offerings in the sports nutrition segment
One thing that most people learned from the pandemic is the importance of prioritising their health and well-being. For many, it was the catalyst to take their fitness to the next level, particularly after enduring lockdowns that resulted in periods of enforced inactivity.
Therefore, the spotlight is now firmly on muscle health and good nutritional habits. It’s perhaps not surprising, therefore, that the global sports nutrition market value is expected to almost double by 2030, reaching a value of $67.9 billion.1
However, the demands of sports nutrition products are as diverse as their target groups. For instance, some athletes treat their bodies like a finely tuned machine and aim for quick recovery times, whereas others focus mostly on muscle growth.
Seniors, meanwhile, want to maintain mobility and independence for as long as possible. And although men and women of all ages may have differing nutritional requirements, both sexes share a desire to look and feel healthy, which includes maintaining energy levels and good immune health.
Finally, a growing number of e-athletes are looking for products to support energy levels, focus and reaction times. To meet these differing needs, Euromed, a leading producer of standardised herbal extracts, offers a broad range of botanical ingredients for functional foods and beverages, dietary supplements and other sports nutrition products.
Polyphenols for peak performance
Pomanox is a natural pomegranate extract that delivers up to 30% punicalagins — polyphenols with high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
During sport, the physiological effects of polyphenols help to improve a range of performance parameters — including increased endurance, distance covered in a preselected time period, time to complete a certain distance and maximum power output — in both untrained but particularly trained male athletes.2
A randomised, placebo-controlled clinical study demonstrated improvement in peak performance and recovery after an exhausting endurance trial in trained amateur cyclists who had consumed the pomegranate extract.3
The main outcomes show that 14 days of Pomanox supplementation significantly increased time to exhaustion and time to reach ventilatory threshold 2 (VT2) in a maximal test following sustained endurance effort (compared with a placebo).
According to the authors, this means that both maximal and submaximal performance increased. Additionally, 72 hours after the trial, inflammatory markers were lower in the Pomanox group compared with the placebo, which could lead to faster recovery.
The physiological conditions during the study were similar to those that occur in long-distance competitions when athletes decide to increase their exertion during the final stages of a race and aim for peak performance. Other published studies suggest that Pomanox may support mood and, within just one hour, improve aspects of cognitive performance such as visual memory.4,5
Moreover, a recent in vitro trial suggests that the extract could reduce signs of skin ageing, such as hyperpigmentation, dryness and loss of elasticity.6
Lifestyle users dominate the sports nutrition market. As such, “healthy agers” are a target group not to be underestimated. There is also a major shift in demographics currently occurring, with people older than 50 becoming a more significant percentage of the population in almost every country of the world.
According to the World Health Organization, one in six people globally will be 60 years or older by 2030.7 For these people, maintaining mobility and strength is important not just for quality of life, but also because they will frequently need to work much into their later years than previous generations.
Manufacturers of sports nutrition supplements can respond to that demand with tailored combination products that may also compensate for age-related nutrient deficiencies.
In addition to Pomanox, Euromed offers further evidence-based fruit and vegetable extracts that are inspired by the healthy ageing properties associated with the Mediterranean Diet.
For instance, the spinach extract Spisar has shown positive effects on skeletal muscle strength and muscle fitness in subjects aged 50-plus who combined moderately intense training with 12-week daily supplementation of Spinacia oleracea L. extract.8
Spinach leaves have a naturally high content of phytoecdysteroids, plant secondary metabolites with a wide range of potential health benefits, such as improved physical performance and enhanced stress resistance. At the end of the clinical study, both the experimental and placebo groups had better muscle strength … yet the improvement was significantly higher with Spisar.
Compared with the placebo, muscle quality also improved to a greater extent when training and Spisar intake were combined. Better muscle quality is an important contributor to muscle health and healthy ageing.
The authors conclude that Spisar, in conjunction with physical exercise, may exert overall “all-body strengthening” adaptogenic activity and may be beneficial for improving muscle fitness and the maintenance of muscle health. Both are crucial for healthy ageing and thus appeal to a wider audience of sports enthusiasts.
More than muscle
Sports nutrition increasingly supports sustained mental performance, too, thanks to the rise of gaming and e-sports, which means manufacturers can tap into new audiences. E-athletes have to be able to perform at their best during competitions.
This is vital, as the demands of sponsors and fans are as huge as the athletes’ expectations of their own performance. They have diverse requirements — from improved concentration and reactivity to the prevention of fatigue, headaches and irritated eyes.
Players need long-lasting energy and mental clarity to stay focused for several hours of continuous gaming. Offering evidence-based support for cognitive performance and eye health too, Pomanox is a real botanical all-rounder.
But so too are melissa leaf, lime flower, passionflower and valerian root from Euromed’s portfolio, all of which are promising ingredients for e-athletes as they can help with stress management.
However, there are still relatively few gaming-specific nutrition products on the market compared with the numerous and differing demands of e-athletes, which means that there are lots of opportunities for manufacturers to offer targeted solutions for this segment.
From field to finished product
Whatever the needs of active consumers, herbal preparations can vary considerably in their effects, quality and safety, particularly if the “seed to patient” process is not properly controlled and standardised. For instance, the characteristics of Pomanox are different to those of other pomegranate extracts or juices.
Pomanox is made solely from fruits sourced locally from Spanish cultivars using dedicated patented technology and processed using purified water as the only solvent during extraction. This enables the production of water-soluble polyphenols from the pomegranate fruit that retain their native phenolic profile. This means they have a naturally high and standardised punicalagin content.
Ensuring the standardisation of the finished product, but also the journey from plantation to consumer, helps to minimise variations in quality. As a premium herbal ingredients supplier, Euromed prides itself on traceability, transparency, correct sourcing and supply chain control.
Production is vertically integrated and its fruits and vegetables are grown in accordance with strict and transparent quality control protocols. Each production batch, from herb to final extract, undergoes several laboratory tests to guarantee that the ingredients are unadulterated and free from undesirable contaminants.
With Euromed’s PhytoProof seal, manufacturers can highlight the reliable sourcing and quality of the botanicals in their finished products.