As consumers continue to recognize the important place of digestive health in immunity and cognitive and emotional health, their appetite for food formulations that offer gastrointestinal benefits grows. As better-for-you food and beverage formulators strive to stay up to date on new ingredients in the pipeline, it’s worth a brief look at a few key ingredients expected to trend in the coming year and beyond.
Ingredients that affect gut health are characterized as prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics, and newly defined “postbiotics.” Ongoing research is elucidating the mechanisms by which these ingredients confer health benefits, demonstrating how trending ingredients such as fiber affect the gut microbiome on a molecular level, by interaction with microorganisms either directly or within intestinal cells.
Consumer interest in comfort foods, especially indulgent foods, is higher than ever. Yet the forces driving that interest are in conjunction with an equally high awareness of the importance of nutrition to health. The two trends need not be in conflict, however. Several strategies already are firmly rooted in formulating better baked goods.
Vegetarianism and flexitarianism continue to grow in popularity, driven by health concerns as well as demand for greater sustainability and animal welfare. This means that alternative protein ingredients will continue to be of high interest to consumers, and therefore also to food and beverage formulators.
While several factors have been driving interest in plant-based analogs of meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy, the phenomenal explosion in such options that the market is experiencing today came from a perfect convergence of two indispensable factors, technology and demand.
Digestive health has been linked to myriad facets of well-being — immunity, cardiovascular health, bone and skin health, mental health, mitigation of symptoms of diabetes and asthma, and even dental health.
Connected to and helping to drive this interest in the digestive tract is the expanding consumer awareness that having a healthy gut means more than just being regular. The science uncovering the connections between digestive health and both immunity and mental health/well-being has created a generation of tuned-in consumers as well. According to the aforementioned Google analytics, interest in “anxiety and gut health” rose 200%, suggesting that individuals have a growing curiosity about how gut health affects the brain.