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Power On!

Once Again Nut Butter
Natural Energy Natural Energy

The energy crisis continues unabated—typical healthy Americans just aren’t feeling “it.” Here’s how to get them going.

Non-GMO Project

How many American adults are secretly jealous of the Energizer Bunny who keeps “going and going?”

According to OmniActive Consumer Insights Program, March 2018, when 500 wellness consumers were asked what they felt they lacked in their lives, more than 33 percent said “energy.” This was followed by sleep (naturally), then exercise and work-life balance.

There are several diametrically opposed phenomena occurring: Americans want more energy, yet they also want more sleep. We complain that our energy is low, yet gym openings and memberships along with participation in athleisure activities are on the rise. People of all ages just don’t feel they can easily power on—despite attempts at pursuing health-oriented activities.

Many consumers in the 2015 proprietary study by Ingredion Inc. of New Jersey indicated a belief that having more energy is a key to having a better quality of life, according to Maria Stewart, PhD, director of global nutrition R&D. Further, she cited the top two reasons respondents wanted more energy is to be more productive and to improve overall well-being. In the U.S., 68 and 70 percent of consumers said getting more energy in the morning and mid-afternoon respectively, is extremely or very important.

No doubt we’re all super-busy, with bursting schedules and moving-target lifestyles. Americans all have the goal of living their lives to the fullest—and this requires a constant stream of energy. “The very definition of health and wellness hinges on having the energy to live an active life,” commented Brian Appel, marketing manager for New Jersey-based OmniActive.

He also pointed to 2015 Hartman Group research which asserted that consumers view “energy management as a balancing act that affects all other aspects of wellness.” As such he is seeing a leveling off of energy drinks to power up. Now, it’s more about consuming the right foods and beverages that provide nutrients that support endogenous energy creation [or conversion].

And it’s not just the busy middle-aged adults feeling the flagging: it’s across the board now, explained Shoji Matsukawa, general manager, organic chemicals sales & marketing, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America, New York. “Millennials and young people tend to feel tired and stressed from living progressively information-intensive, specialized and sophisticated lifestyles. In seniors, natural energy production capability decreases, and exercise is the most effective way to prevent this loss. However, you must maintain muscle to produce more energy through exercise, which becomes more difficult with age due to fatigue and sarcopenia (loss of muscle tissue).”

Andrew Wheeler, corporate director of marketing for Illinois-based Futureceuticals, commented, “Multiple studies have told us that about two out of every five Americans are tired most of the week. We work more and are subject to continual stressors that impact our ability to recover physically and mentally. We get up earlier in the morning, plow through email before the workout, spend eight to nine hours at work, come home and work out again, take care of the family or get together with friends, and all the while we are bombarded with social media and other digital distractions that we can’t—or choose not to—avoid. Then we plow through more email before bed, where we leave the TV on while we try and recoup for the next day. We are overloaded, and in a Type-A culture we keep pushing forward.”

There really is no one answer as to why so many Americans are feeling an energy deficit, said Norbert Fuchs, pharmacist and general manager of Vis Vitalis, originator of PANMOL B COMPLEX, distributed exclusively in the U.S. by Stauber USA. “The causes for lack of energy are manifold. On the one hand, too little time for movement and too much physical strain play major roles as both aggravate our personal perception of feeling burnt out physically and mentally.”

Conversely, he said, many mistakenly believe that supplying their bodies with calories would typically guarantee physical and mental energy sustenance. But the truth is contrary, overweight and obese people frequently have energy deficiencies. This shows that it is not simply the supply of calories that generate energy, “it is the supply of all essential (and many not essential) and non-caloric micronutrients, which enable the body and brain cells to convert food calories to physical and mental energy,” he emphasized.

Energy can be improved by improving sleep and emotional stress management, pointed out Alison Raban, certified food scientist, BI Nutraceuticals, New Jersey. Both sleep and stress and energy have a complex relationship where they first two can affect the third. “These complex biochemically and cellular interactions on top of the complexity of living in a globally connected world, can lead people to feel exhausted,” she commented.

Energizing Options

If our bodies were banks relying on energy currency, sometimes they can be robbed of customers who go elsewhere to make deposits. Adenosine triphosphate is that currency, and several ingredients (bank customers) help the body to continue to produce it.

In fact, said Zbyszek Pietrzkowski, PhD, senior vice president of research and development, FutureCeuticals Bio-Research Laboratory of California, we lose adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as we age, and this decline becomes detrimental to our overall energy stores. Futureceuticals, he said, has shown in clinical and functional studies that its elevATP significantly increases intracellular and extracellular ATP levels in human subjects, as well as can help increase strength, power, and performance of resistance-trained athletes.

“This same cellular ATP increase, one that is coming from inside the body (endogenous energy) rather than ingesting an ATP precursor, can go a long way toward sustaining higher levels of ATP as we age,” he explained. “There is a market for caffeine-free energy, especially by consumers looking to maintain energy levels as they age without a ‘take it feel it’ kick from caffeine.”

Vis Vitalis’ (through Stauber USA) PANMOL B-COMPLEX is an organic quinoa-derived B vitamin complex, Fuchs described. B-vitamins have key roles in the basic PANMOL B-COMPLEX contains biologically active metabolized B-vitamins as found naturally occurring in whole grain cereals, vegetables and other natural food. “In contrast to synthetic B-vitamins PANMOL B-COMPLEX not only contain isolated, synthetic B-vitamins, but also biologically active metabolized B-vitamins as being found in whole grain cereals, vegetables and other natural food,” he explained. “Additionally, the concentration of B-vitamins in PANMOL B-COMPLEX is a hundred-fold higher than in whole grain, enabling the body to replace what’s missing and to maintain the micronutrient levels needed.”

For product developers there are generally two categories of ingredients that promote energy, said Raban. The first is botanicals that contain caffeine-containing botanicals, and the second are those that don’t. In caffeine-containing herbs, BI offers guarana, yerba mate, green tea, as well as others such as BI’s new guayusa powder. Guayusa, a South American plant, she said, tastes “somewhere between yerba mate and green tea,” and it also provides other phytonutrients like polyphenols.

“For the ‘no caffeine’ category, there are plenty of exotic herbs and spices that consumers feel help them maintain energy levels and/or focus,” Raban offered. Some examples are ginseng, ashwagandha, ginger, maca and rhodiola. Non-caffeinated botanicals can also be used in distinctive ways to help consumers maintain energy levels. A more surprising approach, she said, is using valerian, a botanical that promotes healthy sleep, “giving consumers something to take in the evening to make sure they get a good night sleep and thus feel rested and energized the following day.” Another is apple cider vinegar, arguably the biggest trend right now in the natural and organic sector, is another option for out of the box energy formulations as some consumers think it helps them feel more energized and overall healthier.”

Ingredion’s SUSTRA 2434 slowly digestible carbohydrate is a starch-based solution—a proprietary blend of native corn starch and tapioca flour—for manufacturers of energy-focused nutritional products including cold-pressed bars, shake mixes and smoothies. According to Dr. Stewart, it can help replace rapidly digestible bulk carbohydrate ingredients such as white flours, starches, maltodextrin, dextrose or sugar; and can also replace other slowly digestible carbohydrate ingredients such as whole grains flours, isomaltulose and sucromalt with improved processing.

“Gluten- and FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols)-free, SUSTRA 2434 slowly digestible carbohydrate has been designed to be digested slowly, providing a reduced glycemic response and steadier blood sugar levels up to four hours after consumption, an effect confirmed by a clinical study,” she said. “This slower rise and drop in blood sugar helps give consumers the sustained energy they want.”

The Caffeine/Energy Drink Debate

They’re still out there, shelves of brightly colored, aggressively marketed “energy” drinks. Despite many decrying the dangers, energy drinks—and shots—remain very popular among stressed-out, sleep-deprived Americans. According to Mintel, in 2016, the energy drink and shot market grew an estimated 5.8 percent, reaching $13.1 billion. The consumer groups most interested in energy drinks are males 18 to 34, Millennials and parents. In addition, one in four Americans would prefer drinking energy beverages or shots made with all-natural ingredients.

“Caffeine has a played a very prominent role in the energy market—and still does—but consumers are also low looking at other options,” said Appel. “Interest is high for energy drinks offering more specialized, natural, premium ingredients and enhancements associated with added health benefits, which reflects consumer readiness for energy drinks that integrate qualities from better-for-you beverages.”

Examples he offered include functional drinks such as kombucha, with its digestive advantages, antioxidant laden teas, enhanced juices and vitamin waters suggests the time is ripe for energy drink offerings with more hybrid qualities, including enhanced health benefits. Consumer interest seems now to be highest for energy drinks offering antioxidants and probiotics, Appel added. “There are also opportunities for premium energy drinks, as a third of consumers report they would welcome products using premium water and cold-pressed juices.”

Raban pointed out that even with the concern about energy drinks from regulators, health professionals and some consumers, “it’s hard to argue with sales data that shows the energy drink category is still growing, even as other beverages sectors stagnate or shrink.”

However, recently, energy drink restrictions and the idea of imposing such (see the Extra! Extra! at www.niemagazine.com) are expanding due to their side effects, which can sometimes be fatal, Matsukawa noted. “These side effects are believed to be induced by extremely high amounts caffeine and/or too many calories,” he said.

Typical lives will continue to be full and manic, bordering on unmanageable. Demands for energy and alertness will continue to top the list of wellness attributes desired by Americans. NIE

For More Information:

BI Nutraceuticals, www.botanicals.com
Ingredion, Inc., www.ingredion.com
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America, www.mgc-a.com
OmniActive Health Technologies, www.omniactives.com
Stauber USA, www.stauberusa.com

Extra! Extra!

Once Again Nut Butter