Foreword to SSW Special Issue 2019

According to a recent study by PMMI Business Intelligence, the global nutraceuticals market is projected to growat 7.5% CAGR, increasing from a $241 billion market in 2019 to $373 billion in 2025. In the U.S., the market is expected to reach $84.2 billion in 2020. Staggering growth continues in this segment, which is defined as dietary supplements, functional foods, and beverages, thanks to increased consumer focus on health / wellness and the advent of innovative new products. And one particular area of consumer interest is gut health, where research on the role of diet in modifying the gut microbiome is advancing rapidly.

Thanks to increasing focus on the gut microbiome, which is shown to be involved in energy balance, intestinal integrity, and immunity, people are increasingly turning to prebiotics and probiotics as a way to create a healthier balance of gut bacteria. In fact, a report by Acumen Research and Consulting projects the global digestive health products market to grow approximately 7.5% from 2015-2026, reaching approximately $53.2 billion by 2026. This represents a significant market opportunity for global food and beverage companies seeking to support health-conscious consumers in their search for optimal health and wellness.

Armed with greater understanding regarding the importance of a healthy, resilient gut microbiome, researchers are studying dietary fiber (including prebiotics) and probiotics to determine whether they might help prevent or reduce the risk of certain diet-related health conditions. Fermentable dietary fiber and those classified as prebiotics are metabolized by the bacterial community in the gut, thereby impacting the gut microbiota composition and production of fermentation end products, such as short chain fatty acids. Short chain fatty acids are shown to influence gastrointestinal epithelial cell integrity, glucose homeostasis, lipid metabolism, appetite regulation, and immune function. There is evidence that probiotics (certain strains) could be beneficial in improving body composition in healthy individuals as well as individuals who are overweight or obese and insulin sensitivity and lipid profile in individuals who are overweight or obese. The effect of dietary fiber / prebiotics or probiotics on the gut microbiota may depend on many factors, including the probiotic strain(s) used, number of bacteria, dose, and viability, the type of prebiotics used and dose. And these are important considerations when formulating nutraceuticals.

Studies show that the gut microbiome plays a role in host metabolism, and modulation of its composition could be a promising strategy for weight management and improving metabolic health. This knowledge combined with a growing consumer desire to incorporate prebiotics, probiotics, or a combination of preand probiotics could provide nutraceutical manufacturers with greater opportunity for product development, as they work to meet the needs of gut-conscious consumers. Research is constantly being conducted to better understand the impact digestive health products have, not only on the microbiome but on human health. In parallel, research and development efforts are continuing to look for new and better ways to deliver these wellness solutions to consumers across age cohorts in developed and developing markets where diets, affordability and access to nutritious food vary. As new findings emerge and innovations follow, companies are challenged to ready the market for new product introductions.

As new health and wellness products are introduced, driving awareness and dispelling myths about the use of science and innovations to develop these products will be important to build consumer trust and influence purchasing decisions. By placing gut-friendly products backed by sound science in front of health-conscious consumers, identifying the trigger points, and harnessing the motivation at that point in time, digestive health products are positioned for explosive growth for the foreseeable future.

Maria Velissariou
Institute of Food Technologists Chief
Science and Technology Officer

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