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Sports nutrition performance ingredients

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Performance in sports goes beyond competition to include training or regular exercise. By definition, performance is the execution of an action or the ability or manner used in completing a task. Sports nutrition researchers define performance in terms of strength, power and endurance, as well as sport skills including speed, agility and reaction time. Recently, cognitive function—focus, processing and memory—has drawn rising interest in the market for its impact on overall sports performance.

It could be confidently said that all sports nutrition ingredients have an ultimate effect on performance, even if their primary benefit is in weight management or recovery.  However, many ingredients are researched for an influence on specific performance metrics used by sports nutrition researchers and, thus, have a more direct impact on performance.

Strength and power metrics are tied to the muscles, which are built and driven by protein/amino acids and energy. Each protein source, from dairy to plants and algae, has a unique profile of essential amino acids (EAAs) and specific rates of action. Whey is fast acting, while casein is slower. Each protein can play a role in muscle development and function, and blending different protein types is sometimes advantageous. The branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), specifically leucine, are EAAs singled out for muscle building. Leucine is considered a limiting factor in muscle protein synthesis (MPS), the process of building new muscle mass.

Also involved in muscle building is mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin), a regulatory pathway for MPS. Leucine and ingredients such as HMB (beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate) may signal mTOR-activated muscle growth.

Protein boosters, which help increase MPS, and testosterone boosters are other popular categories of ingredients for strength and power.

On the energy side, which also plays into endurance, ingredients that support production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cellular energy molecule, can support performance gains. Creatine helps energize short bursts of activity, such as resistance training and sprinting, while carnitine helps shuttle fatty acids into the mitochondria for use in later stage energy production.

On the flip side, compounds that inhibit fatigue can also improve performance. Beta alanine and carnosine help buffer fatigue-causing ions in the muscles, whereas caffeine disrupts fatigue signaling in the brain and stimulates the central nervous system.

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Plant-based protein—new innovation

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“Plant Based will be the Hottest Food Trend of 2018,” reported the HuffPost last fall. While they were focused on reviewing foods that serve as replacements for burgers, fish, etc., protein in general has been on trend for several years. When thinking about plant-based protein, it’s important to explore plant-based protein as an ingredient for use in food and beverage products.

Some of the top plant-based proteins are pea, hemp and Sacha inchi (an indigenous Peruvian superfood). Pea protein is the most hypoallergenic of proteins available and delivers 100 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin D. Hemp is rich in protein and fiber. Sacha inchi is an excellent source of vitamins A and E and fiber.

Developing products that include plant-based proteins such as these can meet consumer needs of protein and provide additional benefits, but how are they best incorporated into food and beverage products?

Beverages are a great place to start with plant-based proteins. Leading the initiatives are alternative milks. However, doing innovation with these types of beverages can be challenging. The production of alternative milks is expensive and the lack of capacity in manufacturing remains an issue. However, ingredient innovation is stepping up to provide solutions that allow plant protein to be utilized in finished products with greater success. Kerry’s ProDiem™ portfolio, for example, offers dairy-free, soy-free and vegan proteins, enabling developers to enhance the nutritional profile of their products such as powder nutritional beverages, ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages and nutritional bars without impacting flavor or texture. What’s interesting about this new ingredient developed by Kerry is the ability to develop a high-acid, low-PH product that can be used to manufacture in the hot-fill environment.

Developing a beverage as a hot fill is much more lucrative compared to trying to launch a low-acid beverage with aseptic manufacturing. This ingredient also gives the product innovator a way to launch a more refreshment-like product without earlier issues, such as chalkiness, which can be prevalent with more traditional protein-based beverages. Isopure—protein-fortified beverages presented as a clear, flavored-water product—was one of the original and only protein-based beverages with an ingredient to be able to accomplish this. Though it utilized whey protein, it presented a way to commercialize protein in a beverage as a more palatable option.

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Researched ingredients with anti-inflammatory effects

• Short-term inflammation is a protective response, but chronic inflammation can have a negative effect on the human body.

• Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), Terminalia chebula, grape seed extract and magnolia are among the options for formulators.

• The anti-inflammatory market is projected to reach US$130.6 billion by 2026 with a CAGR of 8.5 percent from 2018 to 2026.

Inflammation is one of the body’s natural defense mechanisms, addressing hazardous stimuli such as tissue damage or allergens. On a short-term basis, inflammation can help the body return to a healthy state. However, according to a 2016 review, “Uncontrolled inflammatory response is the main cause of a vast continuum of disorders including allergies, cardiovascular dysfunctions, metabolic syndrome, cancer and autoimmune diseases.”1

While various pharmaceuticals are available to help control and suppress inflammatory crisis, the potential for side effects and the desire for a natural course of action lead many consumers to seek alternative solutions. The review noted several herbs with anti-inflammatory effects that have been evaluated in clinical and experimental studies, including Curcuma longa (curcumin), Zingiber officinale (ginger), Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary), Borago officinalis (borage), evening primrose and devil’s claw. It also mentioned, “the treatment of inflammation is not a one-dimensional remedy,” and therefore, suggested “a multidimensional therapeutic approach to inflammation with the help of herbal medicine and modification in lifestyle.”

Blake Ebersole, president of NaturPro Scientific, pointed to palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) as an emerging anti-inflammatory ingredient that’s been studied in large trials in Europe. It’s a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha (PPAR-α) ligand that exerts anti-inflammatory, analgesic and neuroprotective actions.2 A 2014 review noted PEA was first identified as an anti-inflammatory compound more than half a century ago, but greater exploration didn’t occur until the mid-1990s. PEA was shown to reduce tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α in lipopolysaccharide (LPS, a pro-inflammatory endotoxin)-induced pulmonary inflammation in mice, as well as mast cell degranulation and edema formation in various inflammatory models.3

The review mentioned more recent investigation of the anti-inflammatory mechanisms. PEA inhibited phosphorylation of kinases involved in activation of pro-inflammatory pathways, and the nuclear translocation of nuclear factor-kappa beta (NF-κβ) and activator protein 1 (AP-1), as well as preventing degradation of the inhibitory IκB-α, which when associated to NF-κβ prevents its nuclear translocation.4,5

U.S. Sales of Herbal Dietary Supplements Top $8 Billion, Growing 8.5% in 2017

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Total consumer spending on herbal dietary supplements in the U.S. reached an estimated $8.085 billion in 2017, according to a recently published HerbalGram Herb Market Report for 2017. The report, which appeared in issue 119 of the American Botanical Council’s (ABC’s) quarterly, peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram, noted this is the first time total U.S. retail sales of herbal supplements have surpassed $8 billion. In addition, the 8.5% increase in total sales from 2016 is the strongest growth for these products in more than 15 years.

ABC’s annual market report for herbal supplement sales is based on U.S. retail sales data from the Chicago, IL-based market research firms SPINS and IRI, as well as Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), Boulder, CO. The report covers only retail sales of herbal dietary supplements and does not reflect the sales of most herbal teas, botanical ingredients used in cosmetics, or government-approved herbal drug ingredients in over-the-counter medicines.

The report was authored by Tyler Smith, managing editor of HerbalGram; Kimberly Kawa and Veronica Eckl, retail reporting analyst and associate data product manager, respectively, at SPINS; Claire Morton, senior industry analyst at NBJ; and Ryan Stredney, public relations and marketing specialist at IRI.

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