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Development of High Fiber Functional Food for Singapore's Elderly Population

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Our project, Development of high-fiber functional food for elderly population aims to help the elderly to adhere to a proper intake of fiber, protein, and fat in their diet, as recommended by Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB) in order to improve their food choices by developing high fiber, low-meat based protein and low-fat food formulations for the elderly population.

Living in Singapore is definitely living in a fast-paced society whereby Singaporeans are just striving to get ahead of one another. They work long hours and have very less leisure and exercise time. As such, they might have missed out on the fact that eating healthy is important as it would affect their health in the long run.

Not eating right would contribute to detriment one’s health and increase the risk of getting cancer and other chronic illnesses. Colorectal cancer is topmost cancer diagnosed in males and the second highest cancer diagnosed in females (Singapore National Registry of Diseases, 2015). Colorectal cancer is caused by a diet higher in fats, calories, proteins and low in fiber. As one age, it is important to ensure that one keeps a healthy diet to ensure the necessary nutrients for protecting against chronic illnesses. Health Promotion Board (HPB) in Singapore strongly emphasizes the importance of a healthy diet for seniors, in its recent publication of Dietary Guidelines for Older Adults (intended for adults over 50 years of age). According to (HPB’s) 2010 National Nutrition Survey (Table 1 below), only one in four senior citizens consume the recommended daily serving of vegetables, one in four have protein (animal based) intake below the recommended level while over half have intakes of fat and saturated fat higher than the recommended levels. Over half also have inadequate intakes of calcium in their diets. Having identified the excess and deficiency in the current dietary intake of Singapore’s elderly population, this project has been undertaken to develop food formulations that are low in animal-based protein, high in dietary fiber and low in fat and also in alignment with HPB’s daily recommended nutritional values (mainly, protein, fiber, fat and carbohydrate). This is a continuation of work done in the previous FYP project. Two food formulations, namely vegetarian stew and high-fiber bread, have been developed and optimized for the nutritional values by the former FYP batch of students. Since mushrooms have long been identified as having large amounts of fiber, high-grade plant-based protein, zero cholesterol and various other therapeutic values, different types of mushrooms have been incorporated into the above formulations.

The main work focus of this team is to design an appropriate set of a questionnaire for a sensory evaluation to be conducted at a local home for the elderly. The objective for this survey is to generate data and feedback to evaluate the acceptability of the above-developed recipes and work on necessary fine-tuning of the recipe, if necessary.1 in 3 elderly Singaporeans are not eating right, they are not taking in enough calcium, carbohydrates, and fiber. When they do not take in enough of these nutrients, they are at high risk of malnutrition, a condition caused by a diet of too much or too few nutrients such as zinc or iron (1).

Diet has an important role in maintaining the overall health of a person irrespective of the age groups. Elderly are more vulnerable to infections and diseases as compared to middle-aged people. Therefore, they should have a healthy diet plan to combat diseases and health problems. Colorectal cancer is any cancer(a growth, lump, and tumor) of the colon and the rectum. It is the second most common cancer worldwide, after lung cancer. The possible risk factors for colorectal cancer include A diet that is: very high in saturated fats, very low in dietary fiber, very high in calories, very high in protein (meat-based) along with old age. The older one is, the higher one’s risk is (2). The risks of developing colorectal cancer or dying from it can be reduced through lifestyle modifications and by health screening. For instance, one should adopt a diet high in vegetables and high-fiber foods, such as wholegrain bread and cereals, to reduce the risk of cancer (6). For years, studies have pointed to the fact that increased fiber intake decreases the risk of colorectal cancer. This protective effect may be due to fiber’s tendency to add bulk to one’s digestive system, shortening the amount of time that wastes travel through the colon. As this waste often contains carcinogens, it is best if it is removed as quickly as possible; so, increased fiber decreases chances for intestinal cells to be affected. In addition, when bacteria in the lower intestine breaks down fiber, a substance called butyrate is produced which may inhibit the growth of tumors of the colon and rectum (7).

The National Cancer Institute published many studies which show that those with the highest intake of fiber have a significantly lower risk of dying of any cause. Recently, a study of almost 400,000 participants found that for every 10-gram increase in a participant’s fiber intake, their risk of death dropped by over 12% in men and 15% in women (8). Mushrooms are a good source of vitamin B which helps to provide energy by breaking down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. They are also high in antioxidants which helps protect the body’s cells from damage that might lead to chronic diseases and it also helps to strengthen the immune system as well. Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and low in sodium (9).

Mushrooms also contain choline, a macronutrient that is important for liver function, normal brain development, nerve function, and memory. It helps in maintaining a healthy metabolism, transmission of nerve impulses and reduces chronic inflammation (10). Maitake mushroom is loaded with vitamins and they have a special polysaccharide component called beta-1,6 glucan, which stimulates the immune system. Many of maitake’s compounds are even classified as host defense potentiators and are used in Asia as an adjunctive treatment for cancer. In studies, maitake mushroom nutrition is linked to enhanced immunity and the ability to balance hormones naturally and reduce the growth of cancerous tumors. Maitake mushrooms have even improved the health of AIDS patients and the blood sugar levels of diabetics. They may also reduce hypertension and protect people from heart disease (11).

Maitake mushrooms are rich in antioxidants, vitamin B and C, copper, fiber, potassium, minerals, amino acids and beta-glucans and they are also fat-free, low sodium, low calorie and cholesterol free (12). Oyster mushrooms contain ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant which is effective in providing protection from free radicals as well as boosting the immune system. Ergothioneine helps to eliminate free radicals, which are dangerous compounds released during the metabolic processes of cells that can float throughout the body and cause significant damage and diseases. They also contain natural antibiotics which inhibit microbial growth and other fungal infections (13). Lion’s mane mushroom enhances cognition by increasing the amount of Nerve Growth Factor(NGF) in the brain. NGF is a neurotrophin, a small secreted protein that is essential for the growth, maintenance, proliferation, and survival of neurons. Though it is secreted in the brain and is crucial to optimal brain function, there is evidence that NGF is circulated through the entire body and is essential for maintaining a stable internal environment in response to changes in external conditions. But while cognitive enhancement is among the most significant benefits of Lion’s Mane, it’s far from the only one; studies suggest that Lion’s Mane is a powerful neuroprotectant that could be useful in the treatment of a startling variety of conditions ranging from cardiovascular health to obesity and even some types of cancer (14). Over the years, studies have been built upon the benefits of a high fiber diet. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of several health claims related to the general fiber content of food. Consumption of fiber has been linked to decreasing heart diseases and various types of cancer. It has been proposed that fiber might be beneficial to patients with diabetes as it is able to control their blood glucose response (16).

It is important that foods are natural, high in nutrition and delicious. When there is a high human population in the world, there are bound to be higher environmental pollution caused by developing technology and problems caused by wrong nutrition in food which makes the supply of natural food more difficult. When there is an efficient intake of nutrients in our body, for example, lipids, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and proteins), our body cells would be able to work faster because of the efficient and balanced nutrition that we adapt to. However, oil content in food would be a problem. Therefore, in order to solve this problem, we can consume dietary fiber which would improve the textural and sensual qualities of products (17).

Throughout the years, dietary fiber has received positive attention as fiber intake is able to reduce cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and able to ease constipation. However, consuming high fiber in a short time may lead to abdominal cramps, gas or bloating. Therefore, it is advised to gradually increase fiber in your diet as it will prevent those side effects from occurring (17). The recommended adult intake for fiber ranges from 21 to 50g/day and World Health Organization has recommended that the total fiber intake should be 25g/day. However, not many people take the recommended amount of fiber intake and the estimate of the actual dietary fiber consumption ranges from only 14 to 29g/day, with only a few countries reporting the recommended amount (17).

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Development of High Fiber Functional Food for Singapore’s Elderly Population. (2018, May 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 26, 2021, from
“Development of High Fiber Functional Food for Singapore’s Elderly Population.” GradesFixer, 27 May 2018,
Development of High Fiber Functional Food for Singapore’s Elderly Population. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 Sept. 2021].
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