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Consumer trends in gut, immune health

Article-Consumer trends in gut, immune health

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Research has shown that a large amount of the body’s immune system is housed in the “gut,” creating a strong interrelationship between digestive and immune function. Even further, NMI research has found that U.S. consumers understand this interrelationship, with approximately 1 out of 2 (53%) accepting the notion that “a healthy digestive system benefits the body’s immune system. “In addition, Google searches for information on gut health and immunity have been on the rise over the past five years, with searches regarding immunity showing obvious spikes in March and April 2020.

Management of digestive and immune issues in the U.S. are also on the rise, with management of immune issues almost tripling over the past 11 years, jumping from 7% in 2009 to 27% in 2020, and management of digestive issues growing 48% (from 25% to 37%) during the same time period. Global condition management of both issues is showing similarly high growth rates from 2015, highlighting tremendous global opportunities for preventative and management remedies.

                                    Digestive issues                                                                 Immune issues

Management of health issues across countries

Digestive and Immune Managers are using a variety of products such as supplements, food, over-the-counter remedies and prescription medications to help manage both conditions. In addition, recent product launches reflect the combination of “immune and gut” health benefits spanning categories from probiotic-fortified cookies and dried fruits to supplemental powder mixes that can be added to food or drink. For example, Elevation launched Chocolate Chip Protein & Probiotic Cookies to support digestive and immune health. Kroger launched Probiotic Prunes, prunes fortified with active probiotic cultures, transforming an already healthy product into a powerhouse snack with both digestive and immune benefits; and GoLive introduced a powder supplement mix formulated with probiotic and prebiotic strains to help the body “digest, metabolize and defend.”

The gastrointestinal tract is also affected by emotions—such as sadness, anger, anxiety, and stress—and by lack of sleep, which can trigger symptoms in the gut, causing digestive issues and lowering immunity. According to NMI research, approximately 2 out of 5 consumers state that, since the COVID-19 outbreak, their emotional well-being has declined. They are reporting higher stress and anxiety levels, more trouble sleeping, and lessened ability to focus on tasks, highlighting a crucial need for solutions for the heightened emotional issues which have emerged due to the pandemic.

The interconnected cycle of emotional, digestive and immunity issues opens up a wider array of opportunities within digestive health and expands into many other areas of condition management. In fact, consumers are starting to understand that having a healthy gut is beneficial to a whole range of other health conditions, even beyond immunity, and show strong interest in using digestive-friendly probiotics to improve natural energy levels, skin health, and mood and anxiety issues.

It is predicted that the need for immunity, digestive and mental health assistance will continue to create opportunities across a range of categories and industries, even after the pandemic is on the wane. Understanding the interrelationships of these conditions and the connection of mind and body may become the paradigm of future healthcare and specific product solutions.

Steve will further discuss the leading trends in the digestive and immune landscape, explore differences and commonalities between and across countries, and examine the impact of COVID-19 in our Vitafoods Insights Virtual Expo this May 11.

Learn more and register for free to attend the Vitafoods Insights Virtual Expo.

Steve French
Senior Vice President, Natural Marketing Institute

NMI is a strategic consulting, market research, and business development firm specializing in the health, wellness, and sustainability marketplace.  For more information on NMI’s services or proprietary research tools, contact Steve French at [email protected] or visit