Eat Healthy To Age Healthy

Friday, April 8th, 2022

The importance of consuming enough fibre and protein is not to be underestimated in any healthy ageing individual.

Contributed by Dr. LaiYee, Lee (Technologist) and Anushia Shanmugaraj (Corporate Communications & Marketing).

In recent times, the world of food has become trendier and steering its way into a healthier more balanced way of consuming food. Diets like keto and intermittent fasting rose to a high during the peak of the pandemic and have spearheaded the interest of many, where health has taken centre stage.

People are now focusing on diets that contribute to healthy ageing, therefore, we see a shift in purchasing patterns more skewed towards, plant-based diets as well consuming products with added nutritional functions. 

As general consensus would agree, eating plant-based is good for the environment. It also has direct health benefits that include being good for the heart, brain and gut.

Many clinical tests and trials show that in order to practice healthy ageing, diets that consist of plant proteins and fibre based foods can help increase longevity as well as decrease developments of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart problems, diseases that are more likely to emerge as one age. However, having limitations to the kind of foods available may sometimes be of hindrance in maintaining these lifestyle choices.

Companies like Futura Ingredients have thus, developed a range of products within the plant protein and soluble fibre category to bridge the gap of healthy eating and food that are deemed unhealthy within applications for bakery, dairy and non-dairy beverages as well.

The Necessity Of Protein

According to The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), they suggest 0.83g per kg body weight per day of protein intake and 25g per day of dietary fibre intakes for good health. The US FDA has increased this daily recommended value for dietary fibre from 25g to 28g per day in March 2020.

It has been estimated that 0.5 – one percent of muscle mass is lost annually when we turn 50. It is therefore, necessary to increase our dietary protein intake as we age – in fact, there are studies suggesting that we should increase our dietary protein intake earlier in life to mitigate muscle ageing process.

Further, protein produces greater satiety in comparison to carbohydrates and fats – we stay full for longer with proteins. A high protein diets have also been shown to be an effective weight loss strategy for overweight and obese individual by reducing hunger. 


Proteins are large molecules made up of long chains of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. Each amino acids have the same fundamental structure, consisting of a central carbon atom, bonded to an amino group (NH2), a carboxyl group (COOH), a hydrogen atom, and a side chain that differentiates the amino acids.

There are 20 types of amino acids in total, of which 11 are non-essential amino acids, and the remaining nine are the essential amino acids. The non-essential amino acids can be synthesised by our body, while the essential amino acids (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine) cannot and needs to be obtained through diet. 

Therefore, in addition to giving nutrients to humans, proteins are unique for its functionalities in food applications because of the several forms of interactions within and among the protein structures. These food application functionalities include its emulsification capability, foaming properties, water holding capacity, gel formation capability, as well as its ability to impart viscosity in the food matrix.

Proteins are unique in food applications where its impact, for example on foaming or viscosity, are different between protein A and B due to intra- and intermolecular interactions.

Proteins from plant and animal sources are significantly different in terms of its chemical composition and structure. Plant protein powders are pure amino acid chains while animal proteins are typically complex and comprised of conjugated proteins. Conjugated proteins are more functional owing to its naturally complex configuration.

For example, in baked goods – there is ovalbumin in egg white that form foams easily and lipoproteins in egg yolks that gives good emulsifying properties; while in dairy beverages – milk proteins are phosphoproteins that helps with emulsion stability. Formulating with plant proteins can be complicated as it requires the support of other functional ingredients to obtain certain desired functionalities.

Fibre In Food Formulations

Fibre intake has very often been included in our food intake; however, many are unaware of how imperative it is to maintaining the health of the gut as healthy gut flora will eventually determine health of the digestive system which does lose gastrointestinal muscle strength as we age. Hence, the inclusion of a high fibre diet will contribute to healthy ageing.


Fibre source is ideally from plant-based food through our daily diet; however, most of us have a gap to fill between existing and recommended fibre intake levels especially as we evolve into contemporary diets and lifestyles. The increasing awareness of the importance of fibre intake, in addition to the demand of healthy food, has led to introducing added fibre in food formulations.

The added fibre is often termed functional fibres, the isolated non-digestible carbohydrates such as resistance starch, polydextrose, inulin and indigestible dextrins. Fibre is either water soluble – forms solution when mixed with water, or not soluble – insoluble in water.

Inulin – natural soluble fibre in a variety of plants, commercially extracted from Jerusalem Artichoke or Chicory root. It is a white and odourless powder with natural and neutral sweetness.

Polydextrose – typically manufactured from glucose and sorbitol. It is a white and odourless powder with clean and neutral taste.

The roles of soluble fibres like inulin and polydextrose in processed food products are more than just nutrient sources. In addition to their nutritional benefits, they carry technological advantages in food applications as well. From a nutritional perspective, inulin and polydextrose carry prebiotic properties which stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria in our gut.

They have a lower impact on blood sugar rise, and therefore, carry a low glycemic index and an excellent contributor of fibre to our diet, particularly in fibre enriched or fortified food products. Being complex polysaccharides, inulin and polydextrose contributes to lower energy density as compared to many other ingredients such as sucrose and maltodextrin. Inulin and polydextrose impart solids when added to food formulations. 

They are often the favoured options for food product development in reduced calorie formulations, particularly those involving sugar and/or fat reduction – considering the need to compensate the missing solids without adding back too many calories.

They also impart a certain degree of water-binding capacity, and on that account are able to impart viscosity to the food matrix. Additionally, inulin and polydextrose provides texture and mouthfeel needed from the sugar and/or fat removed.

Soluble fibres typically imparts clarity and rheological properties similar to sucrose. Therefore, it is generally straightforward to incorporate them into food formulations. Further, they are versatile to be added into a range of food applications while preserving, if not improving, the product’s original flavour profile or release.

Futura Ingredients advocates healthy ageing through healthy eating with a combination of Ekӧlite VITA Plant Protein Series, which uses plant protein sources from pea, brown rice, pumpkin seeds and the Ekölite VITA Soluble Fibre Series as the solution to an improved nutritional profile in formulations for bakery, beverage and ice cream applications. 


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