There's an interesting, inherent nexus playing out between the antioxidants and anti-ageing worlds. It makes a certain amount of sense when you consider the armchair explanation of antioxidants is being able to stop a car from rusting. The human equivalent of a rusting car might be wrinkles and other degenerative conditions that affect appearances and performance — you know, ageing.
So any antioxidant nutrients that can alleviate the oxidative stress and inflammation that seems to be at the root of ageing are certainly in play these days.
Fruits, especially the so-called superfruits, have risen to the top of the list, with no sign apparent of a lull in either the discovery of novel high-antioxidant fruits or new product applications of those already on the market.
Even staid old blueberries are gaining a new sheen. Researchers in the neuroscience lab at Tufts University in Boston have been finding that behavioural deficits seen in ageing can be retarded or even reversed by the polyphenolics in blueberries, strawberries and other fruits and vegetables, possibly, they say, by increasing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory levels.
"You can strengthen and nourish the brain with high-antioxidant fruit supplementation," says Barbara Shukitt-Hale, PhD, at Tufts who conducted some of the animal research. "We did correlations with two different areas of the brain, and we increased performance with blueberries."
That paper was published in November 2009. Her research colleague at the Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts, Jim Joseph, PhD, will be speaking at Nutracon in March in the two-day Health Ageing track.
Their research results are hardly the first. "Higher intakes of fruits and vegetables have consistently been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease," says Howard D Sesso, ScD, another Nutracon speaker when he's not at the lectern at Harvard. Sesso helped lead the Physicians' Health Study II, a randomised trial that tested whether common supplemental doses of vitamin E, vitamin C and a multivitamin have any effect on cardiovascular disease, cancer and other chronic diseases.
Another of their colleagues at Tufts, Jeffrey Blumberg PhD, the estimable professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, will also be addressing industry professionals at Nutracon, in the Antioxidant Science track.
"Can we take someone and through nutritional intervention shift them down to a slower rate of pathogenic diseases? Of course we can," says Blumberg. "This kind of info is so critical that we industry scientists need to try to get consumers to know what's out there, and to make policy changes."
To keep attendees on their toes, New York Times columnist Jane Brody is also on the docket. Her columns cannot be said to be entirely friendly to the supplements world. Challenges welcome.
And speaking of engaging the brain, the much-ballyhooed "Brain Storm," wherein attendees break into groups in a sort of speed-dating pursuit of cognitive product ideas, will make for a lively afternoon in the Healthy Ageing track.
Along those lines, one such new product launch is DSM's Winetime Bar, the first-ever nutrition bar containing as much resveratrol as 50 glasses of red wine. The bar is made from DSM's resVida brand resveratrol, along with seven bonus superfruits and French red grapes.
DSM's got new research it released in December to demonstrate its safety and efficacy. "The study showed that resVida was readily absorbed and significantly improved blood vessel function," says Lori Lathrop Stern, senior nutrition scientist at DSM Nutritional Products.
New ingredients, new applications on the antioxidant and anti-ageing front. What's next? Fish oils? Curcumin? B vitamins? Walnuts? Alpha-lipoic acid and carnitine? High-antioxidant fruits and vegetables? Polyphenols? At Nutracon in March, the future is on exhibit.