Archive for the ‘Organics’ Category

Cognitive health

Mainting Brain Health and Cognitive Function with Minerals

Cognitive health: A lifelong opportunity

 

Most U.S. adults say healthy cognition is important, yet few are satisfied with their cognitive abilities, showing opportunity for natural product brands.

Steve French | Nov 16, 2018

When considering various aging topics, such as overall physical health, retirement funds, health care expenses, sufficient energy and maintaining weight, one issue consistently ranks as the most important matter among American adults: mental/brain health.

Over the past 12 years, the importance of cognitive health has grown more than 20 percent (from 61 percent in 2005 to 74 percent in 2017) among all American consumers, according to data from the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI).

Cognitive Health a Lifelong Concern for Adults

While conventional wisdom may hold that brain health is a concern reserved for later in life, NMI’s Healthy Aging Database® (HAD) revealed that recognizing the importance of cognitive health is not limited to older generations; in fact, cognitive health is important to all generations. While matures (aged 71 and older) place the highest level of importance on cognitive health (84 percent), millennials (ages 20 to 39)—even more so than Generation X (ages 40 to 51)—also exhibit high levels of concern (73 and 70 percent, respectively). And 66 percent of Boomers state that mental/brain health is a very important issue.

Put in perspective, cognition issues are the top concern among U.S. adults after heart problems. Concern over cognitive health in the general adult population is higher than concern over Alzheimer’s Disease. Whereas Alzheimer’s is generally accepted as a genetic disease primarily affecting seniors, cognitive health is perceived as lifelong health maintenance that has the potential to be maintained or improved.

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With the proliferation of brain games, smart foods and cognitive dietary supplements available on the market, consumers have ample options from which to choose their personalized plan.

The Fear Factor

Just under half the American population (46 percent) fear losing mental/brain capacity as they age. The level of fear has remained relatively consistent during the past dozen years, suggesting that fear of losing cognitive capability is being more accepted (or just something that will have to be dealt with if an issue arises). Fear of cognitive decline increases with age, with 42 percent of millennials fearing such loss, compared to over half of Boomers and matures.

Triple Threat—the Relationship Between Cognitive Health, Stress and Anxiety

Management and treatment of memory, concentration and cognitive function remained stable over the past decade among most adults, however it is steadily increasing among millennials, up almost double from 2007 to 2017. Currently, millennials (7 percent) and Gen X (8 percent) report the highest levels of managing memory, concentration and cognitive functions, compared with fewer than 6 percent of Boomers reporting that they currently treat these cognitive functions. Not surprisingly, millennials and Gen X also claim to manage significantly more stress and anxiety than Boomers. According to NMI’s 2017 HAD, one-quarter of millennials and Gen X treat stress, compared to less than 13 percent of Boomers. Similarly, anxiety is treated by 27 percent of millennials and 22 percent of Gen X, significantly more than Boomers (12 percent). Could there be a link between stress, anxiety and cognitive health, especially among younger generations that may be feeling the pressure to prove themselves and/or perform in the workplace and among their peers?

Opportunities for Change, Disrupting Deterioration

Eight out of 10 adults feel they are taking more personal responsibility for their health now compared to 10 years ago. Of those, two-thirds agree one reason they are taking more responsibility is so they can be in their best mental health; Boomers (71 percent) and matures (73 percent) are only slightly more likely to agree than their younger counterparts.

Millennials and Gen X think proactively regardless of whether they act on their beliefs. Forty-one percent of millennials and Gen X are significantly more likely than other generations to strongly agree they desire a nutritional supplement or ingredient to keep memory and brain function healthy. Given that those under 40 are looking for solutions, this makes them a receptive target market for cognitive supplements or fortified food and beverage products. This compares to one-third of Boomers, suggesting either their lack of belief in supplement efficacy for cognitive health, or concern that it may be “too late” to effect a meaningful change.

Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of U.S. adults feel mental/brain health is important. Compared to satisfaction levels, a wide gap is clear. On average, only one-third (32 percent) of adult consumers are very satisfied, creating unmet need states and respective opportunities across the supply chain.

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Lack of satisfaction compared to perceived importance is consistent across all age groups. Millennials (43 percent difference), Gen X (42 percent), Boomers (43 percent) and matures (39 percent) all show large gaps between importance of and satisfaction with cognitive health. Based on these gaps, consumers may benefit from products and services geared toward mental performance at all stages of their adult lives. With the addition of their proactive beliefs, consumers under 40 are prime targets for many companies to provide new products and ways for consumers to maintain cognitive health and fight mental deterioration.

Cognition is clearly a lifelong challenge, which in turn creates opportunities for a health benefit platform with innovative solutions for all.

Steve French (steve.french@nmisolutions.com) is a managing partner at the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI). NMI is a strategic consulting, market research and business development firm specializing in the health, wellness and sustainability marketplace.

You Can’t Judge a Food by Its Color – or Can You?

cheese puffs

This color should raise a red flag, or at least an orange one.

I remember the first time I heard about artificial food coloring. I was about 8 years old, and my friends and I had been told that Bubble Yum bubble gum (only THE best bubble gum on the planet) was going to be pulled from the shelves because it contained Red Dye No. 2, a suspected carcinogen. It was a chance we were willing to take, especially since we really didn’t understand the chance we were taking. We just wanted to blow bubbles the size of our heads. The FDA banned Red Dye No 2. in 1976 but, thankfully, Bubble Yum lived on.

So what is artificial color? According to the FDA, artificial colors, or color additives, are synthetically produced (or human made) and used widely because they impart an intense, uniform color, are less expensive, and blend more easily to create a variety of hues. Well, if you put it that way, I’m just fine with food manufacturers using artificial, petroleum-based (yum) colors instead of natural colors like paprika, beets, carmel or blueberries <insert sarcasm here>.

There are currently 9 synthetic dyes that the FDA has approved for use in food. The list includes: Blue 1, Blue 2, Citrus Red 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. There have been several other dyes that were once on the approved list, but with additional testing, they were delisted as they were found to be hazardous in some way. For example, at one time specific red and orange dyes were used to make oranges more orange. But these specific artificial colors were taken off the market.

So why would someone want to color and orange more orange? Well, to sell more oranges, of course. Would you rather buy a perfectly orange orange, or one that was slightly yellow? The more appealing and attention getting, the more likely you are to purchase. This is often why you see so many brightly colored candies and drinks in products targeted at children. But ask yourself, when is the last time blue raspberry was a color found in nature? And if you’ve ever made macaroni and cheese from scratch and compared it to the bright orange powder that comes out of the box, I think you get my point.

It’s important to remember that just because a label says “natural” doesn’t mean ALL natural. There may be only one natural ingredient in the product. Several of the ingredient flavors and colors may, in fact, be artificial. Artificial colors are prevalent in so many foods, even foods you might associate with being healthy. I was shocked to find artificial colors used in my super model-endorsed yogurt. I’ve decided to look for another brand. All you have to do to check for artificial food colors is read the label.

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the possible ties between ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in children and artificial colors. There have been two large scale studies conducted in Britain to study the effects of artificial colors on children. While there is not conclusive evidence to prove a connection, there was enough concern that a European Union regulation was passed requiring a warning statement (“may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children“) on foods that contain at least one of six dyes. According to John E. Huxsahl, M.D. with the Mayo Clinic, “There’s no evidence that food additives cause attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but an increasing number of studies show that certain food colorings and preservatives may cause or worsen hyperactive behavior in some children.”

With regard to the current 9 artificial colors that are allowed by the FDA, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) believes there could be serious flaws with some of the testing. While all food colors (natural and artificial) must be approved by the FDA, artificial colors must pass tests to show that they are safe and don’t contain cancer-causing substances. But the FDA tests don’t always work as intended. According to CSPI, “Fifteen years ago, FDA and Canadian government scientists discovered that most of the carcinogen benzidine that can contaminate Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 is bound to molecules in the dyes. So routine FDA tests, which look only for “free” benzidine, fail to detect it. And the dyes are sometimes contaminated with 100 to 1,000 times more bound than free benzidine.” Yikes!

Fortunately, the world of natural colors is starting to grow. As more consumers raise their voices and demand healthier products, manufacturers are starting to utilize new, natural flavor sources like purple sweet potatoes, cochineal insects (yep, ground up bugs), and blue gardenias (which are not yet approved for use in foods in the U.S.).

Like you’ve read so many times before on this blog – it is VERY important to read labels. While you’re reading the label for nutritional information, be sure to read the list of ingredients and look for artificial flavors and colors. If you can’t pronounce it, you probably don’t want to eat it. Remember, the natural color of mint ice cream is not kermit-the-frog green and there is nothing natural about neon orange cheese puffs.

July 2019
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