In 2015, people aged 60 years or more numbered some 901 million worldwide, with majority from Asia (56.4 percent) while only 19.6 percent reside in Europe. Japan has the oldest proportion of senior citizens in the world, with 26.3 percent of its population being 65 years or older.
With the increase in life expectancy due to the advancement of technology and health care today, the number of older people (aged above 60 years) has drastically increased in most countries and regions in recent years. This growth is planned to accelerate in the coming decades.
In fact, the number of people over 65 is expected to be multiplied by more than 300 percent in the next 50 years. The market therefore needs to adjust accordingly to the nutritional needs of this global ageing population, especially with the increasing concern of healthy ageing by consumers today, says Dr Ideas.
Ageing is something that affects all people, of all ages. As consumers grow older year by year, they have become increasingly concerned with ageing well. This has spurred trends in ‘super’ ingredients that comprise various vitamins and minerals to improve or maintain bodily health, including bone health, brain health, prevention against heart disease, or even those that can help preserve skin beauty.
Japan today has one of the biggest anti-ageing markets that comprises all sorts of products targeting exactly these, and it is of little surprise that the country, which already possesses the older proportion of senior citizens, also has one of the longest lifespans and further, the lowest occurrences of bowel disease.
A reason Dr Ideas cited was the difference in diet. Where western diets generally comprise mostly of sugar and processed food, the Japanese diet typically incorporates a large range of fermented foods, such as miso, umeboshi (pickled plum), natto, soy sauce, and fermented fish. But what does fermented foods have to do with healthy ageing?
Fermentation & Healthy Ageing
/>Fermentation is a biochemical process in which an organism transforms a carbohydrate, such as starch or a sugar, into an alcohol or an acid. Beer and wine are made by ethanol fermentation using yeast.
Another type of fermentation uses lactic acid bacteria, like lactobacillus to produce lactic acid. This kind of fermentation enriches the raw ingredient with health-interested chemicals (like polyphenols) and creates new phytochemicals (like GABA). The result is a highly bioactive product that modulates gut microbiota.
Fermented foods provide a variety probiotics and prebiotics crucial to maintain a healthy gut. These improve digestion by modulating microbiota and gut health, and also strengthen the immune system. About 80 percent of the immune system is located in the gut, and modulation of gut flora decreases permeability of the intestinal barrier to pathogens and toxins and helps to produce antibodies.
With the ageing population growing and consumers becoming increasingly concerned with ageing healthily, the global anti-ageing market is likely to expressive impressive growth in the coming years. More and new innovative fermented solutions with improved bio-absorption and better wellness action, such as fermented marine ingredients like spirulina, will likely be seen from here on.
Note: Dr Bejit Ideas will be speaking more about fermentation, future health and beauty solutions for ageing consumers at the upcoming Vitafoods Asia show in Hong Kong.