Shallow Dive: Metabolic Health

Why it's the future of weight management

A quick read of interesting titbits from the F&B universe that will drop every other week. Skim through this in less than a ☕break.

Beyond weight

A healthy weight or BMI are often considered an indicator of “good health”. This, as we know, has kept the weight management industry going, with new diets, hacks, ingredients, and hopes meant to lose those extra kilos and keep them off. 

Today, however, obesity has become a major health concern. Between 1975 and 2022, obesity rates have nearly tripled among adult women (6.6% to 18.5%) and quadrupled among men (3% to 14.0%), according to the World Obesity Federation. Being overweight or obese puts people at higher risk of developing chronic conditions – non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and even cancer. 

But we know today that obesity is not as simple as eating too much and exercising too little. Environmental, genetic, economic, and a whole host of other factors play a role, including processed and ultraprocessed foods. And being overweight doesn’t automatically mean someone is unhealthy. 

So the indicators of good health are seeing a bit of a reformulation. A more holistic approach is considering metabolic health, which looks at the state of five specific markers without medication:

  • Blood sugar levels

  • Triglycerides

  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol

  • Blood pressure

  • Waist circumference

If three or more of these markers are higher than the prescribed range, that condition is called metabolic syndrome and it is an indicator of how much at risk you are of developing various chronic conditions. Metabolic health is when you have optimal levels of these markers.

Leading chronic diseases fueled by metabolic dysfunction:

  • Diabetes

  • Hypertension

  • Lipid abnormalities

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

  • Polycystic ovarian disease

  • Cancer

  • Dementia

And this has emerged as an area of interest in health research and, as an extension, in nutrition research. 

Potential ingredients for metabolic disorders

As we start to better understand the relationship between food and metabolic health, we’re starting to see more research into ingredients that could help manage these specific markers.


A meta-analysis of 16 randomized controlled studies has found that eating cranberries could have potential benefits in regulating lipid and glucose profiles

Cranberry consumption was associated with a significant decrease in the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Intake was also seen to significantly reduce markers of insulin resistance. Dried forms in supplements notably reduced fasting insulin levels. Cranberries are rich in polyphenols like anthocyanins, which are thought to prevent lipid accumulation in the blood and reduce oxidative stress. Cranberries are also a rich source of ursolic acid which has been seen to activate the browning of white cells.

GourmetPro expert Kara Landau, Founder and Head Dietician of Gut Feeling Consultancy, added that cranberries may exhibit some of their metabolic benefits via their influence on the gut.

Kara Landau

Studies have shown that cranberry extracts (and the associated polyphenolic compounds) are able to stimulate the growth of a metabolically beneficial probiotic strain called Akkermansia (A. muciniphila). By stimulating the growth of Akkermansia, which is able to signal for the production and release of GLP-1, a blood glucose regulating hormone (via its ability to stimulate the release of insulin and associated reduction in blood glucose), cranberries are able to exert a metabolically beneficial environment to support weight management.


Omega-3 therapy

Clinical trials of a fixed-dose combination therapy of omega-3 ethyl esters and atorvastatin have shown some promise for people with dyslipidemia.


Gut health is increasingly being linked to overall improved health. The last two decades of research has amassed enough circumstantial evidence to suggest that our intestinal microbiota also play a role in metabolic health. An imbalance in the microbiome is also thought to be linked to greater risk of developing metabolic disorders like obesity, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic liver disease, cardio-metabolic diseases and malnutrition. 

In this context, probiotics have become an important class of ingredients to alter the microbiome and help address various metabolic disorders.

  • Lactiplantibacillus plantarum is a gram-positive lactic acid bacteria found in fermented foods and is a safe and easily available probiotic supplement. A strain of this bacteria isolated from the Korean angelica plant has been found to reduce body fat in a randomized, double-blind clinical trial. The group given the probiotic showed a reduction in body fat mass and LDL cholesterol after 12 weeks versus the placebo group. The probiotic group also registered lower levels of subcutaneous fat area, total cholesterol, and leptin. There aren’t enough effective medications to address the high rates of global obesity, and the side effects from these treatments have called for natural alternatives. 

  •  Supplements with the spore-forming probiotic Bacillus coagulans have been shown to increase beneficial bacteria in the gut and could help reduce fatty liver content in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to an eight-week randomized clinical trial. This supplementation was found to be more beneficial in people with a BMI of less than 30. 

Whilst it is important to look into specific probiotic strains that can enhance your metabolic condition, it is also vital to incorporate prebiotics, the fuel source for probiotics, to support this ecosystem and be able to reap the benefits. Various prebiotics have been shown to support metabolic health, such as beta glucans to reduce negative blood lipid profiles and reduce blood glucose spikes. Additionally. resistant starch prebiotics are able to help cells become more responsive to insulin, resulting in the body requiring less insulin release and a more efficient blood glucose level management.


Like what you’re reading?

Product development for metabolic health

Even though metabolic health may be a newish area for the F&B industry, we’ve been seeing product launches looking to address this.

Plug-and-play ingredients

Nexira, a global manufacturer of natural ingredients and botanical extracts, has introduced a new functional ingredient called inavea Cinnamon & Acacia to help with blood glucose management.

This ingredient combines prebiotic fibers from acacia and polyphenols from cinnamon, and is said to modulate the gut microbiota population and promote the growth of certain strains of good bacteria that have a role in improving metabolic health markers.

This ingredient can be incorporated into a number of foods like nutritional powders, energy/snack bars, functional beverages, and others.


SP Nutraceuticals launched what it calls the “world's first plant-based metabolism management supplement brand”, called Metavo. It includes a proprietary avocado bioactive compound, Avocatin B (AvoB) which is said to help the body metabolize fats, proteins, and carbs to improve insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, and energy. It also helps with food cravings and energy slumps.

This product also promotes itself as a “GLP-1 nutrition companion,” an interesting positioning given the growth of GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy for weight and diabetes management.

Metavo is available as capsules or as meal replacement powders.

Prepped meals

Food majors have also started to throw their weight behind (sorry) consumer interest in the GLP-1 weight loss drugs with products that support their health goals.

Nestlé, for example, has just announced that it is launching a new range that will serve as a companion for people on GLP-1 weight loss medication as well as those focused on weight management.

The brand is called Vital Pursuit and is said to be high-protein, rich in fiber, and contain all essential nutrients. The range will also be portion-controlled in line with the medication user’s lower appetite, and will include single-serve bowls with whole grains or protein pasta, sandwich melts, and pizzas with cauliflower crust. Vital Pursuit is expected to be launched in the US in October 2024.

Weight management is still an important goal for consumers across the board, especially now given its strong links with lowering the risk of various other conditions. As much, we can expect to see interest in weight loss and management expand into newer and more holistic claims of metabolic health.

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