Digestive health is no longer the “forbidden territory” it once was; it’s now considered a mainstream topic in health management. Consequently food and beverage companies recognize the importance of digestive health as a popular active health positioning claim.
Technavio (www.technavio.com) reports the functional foods and beverage market that contributes to digestive health will grow at a steady rate and should post a compound annual growth rate of 6.53 percent from 2017 to 2021 for the U.S. market. Health-imparting ingredients such as probiotics and others will drive the chances for growth globally until the end of 2021, Technavio predicts.
“Due to growing consumer understanding and interest, medicinal foods are rising in the natural food and beverage space, where functional ingredients rooted in the real world (as opposed to labs) are increasingly in demand,” notes Kara Nielsen, a trends expert in food and beverage in a recent Packaged Facts (www.marketresearch.com) report on cutting-edge wellness.
Ingredient providers increasingly are developing prototype products for food and beverage developers to use to promote digestive health benefits. Ingredients containing minerals, vitamins, herbs, fiber, amino acids, antioxidants, prebiotics and probiotics that encourage gut health are being incorporated in energy, sports and vegetable drinks, juices, yogurt, snacks and fermented foods. Primary digestive health goals are easing inflammatory bowel conditions and helping balance friendly bacteria in the digestive system.
Ginger root and turmeric – two of the major Ayurvedic (healing) herbs – are documented in scientific research as promoting gastrointestinal comfort and reducing incidences of gastrointestinal disorders.
Ginger has been shown to relieve nausea, motion sickness and pain. It has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. As part of its Source-Convert-Deliver concept unveiled at September’s Supply Side West show, Naturex (naturex.com), South Hackensack, N.J., highlighted ginger and turmeric in a digestive health beverage promising natural gastrointestinal benefits. The new ingredient concept combines organic ginger root extract with Turmipure, Naturex’s premium-grade organic turmeric extract (95 percent curcuminoids, the compounds that give turmeric its color).
Probiotics, of course
Probiotic- and fiber-containing products were popular as digestive aids even before Dannon Activia yogurt launched in the U.S. in 2006. But that yogurt brand, featuring Dannon’s exclusive Bifidus regularis culture, put digestive health front and center with a claim to help regulate the digestive system – even though Dannon had to retract its claim that a single daily serving of Activia could ease irregularity.
“For us, probiotics are an added bonus,” explains Koel Thomae, cofounder of Noosa Yoghurt (www.noosayoghurt.com), the Bellvue, Colo., maker of Noosa thick, creamy yoghurt. While the brand’s differentiator is the use of whole milk, she acknowledges the “macro-trend [of] probiotics, because of health benefits and beyond digestive health.”
After the success of EFFi Foods’ (www.effifoods.com) Probiotic CareBar, the Los Angeles company rolled out a grain-free granola line of Probiotic Nut Clusters last year. “The clusters were well received, and we went into large-scale production this year,” says EFFi’s founder Carina Ayden. The organic, grain-free granola is fortified with non-dairy probiotics and super foods, she says.
“Focusing on gut health and digestive benefits in all our snack lines, it’s been important for us to ‘disrupt’ the most oversaturated and unhealthy snacking categories by providing truly clean, healthy alternatives,” says Ayden.
Clasado Biosciences (www.clasado.com), a wellness solutions biotechnology research firm based in Jersey, U.K., offers prebiotic technologies such as Bimuno galactooligosaccharide (GOS), a patent-protected ingredient produced from dairy lactose, which feeds and stimulates growth and activity of Bifidobacterium (anaerobic bacteria in the GI tract that produce acetic and lactic acid by the fermentation of carbohydrates). The company’s tests of Bimuno demonstrate a positive impact on gut microbiota, digestive comfort, metabolism and the immune system, including control of inflammation in the body.