Food And Beverage As A Medicine For Gut Health

Working in the food and beverage sector I have the privilege to observe the evolution of food and the consumer. This is no more evident than when it comes to consumers’ health and wellness. For instance, in the past when consumers had an upset stomach, they may have taken pepto bismol or tums. Yet, today consumers are turning to food and beverage to satisfy their health and wellness needs. In the US, consumers spend more than $175 billion on health and wellness products.[i] According to Nielsen, and the NDP Group, 80% of consumers have adopted a “food as medicine” approach to eating.[ii] One of the key consumer wellness trends is gut / digestive health. Euromonitor estimates that one-quarter of the global population suffers from gut / digestive issues.[iii] Nearly one in four consumers say digestive health is the most important aspect of their overall health, [iv] with gut health being wellness movement’s latest trend in which the hashtag “#guthealth” garners more than 2.2B views on Tik Tok.[v]

What is Gut Health and Why is it Important?

Gut health affects lots of different aspects of our well-being, from mood to our immunity. It covers the health of our entire digestive system – the parts of our body responsible for breaking down our food into individual nutrients we use to run our body. Our gut is home to billions of bacteria that can influence everything from how well we sleep to the moods we have every day. Several factors can impact our gut health, 1. Stress, 2, Sleep, 3. Diet, and 4. Medications. Not only does the gut play a critical role in digestion, but it has also proven to be essential for immune function, weight regulation, and brain function.

What is Global Market for Gut Health Products?

The global digestive health products market size was valued at USD $44.4B in 2022 and is expected to expand at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.2% from 2022 to 2030.[vi] Global sales for gut health products are forecasted to reach USD $79.2B by 2030.[vii]

What is the Sales Growth for Food and Beverage Products as Medicine?

In 2022, US sales for food and beverage as a medicine increased 19% year over year, compared to 9% 3 – years earlier.[viii]

Education is Key for Gut Health

Though one in four consumers say digestive health is important, less than half of consumers are knowledgeable on some level as outlined in Chart 1. Brands must educate the consumer on how they best address consumers’ gut health, as more than half of them acknowledged they wish to improve their digestive health.

Chart 1

Consumer Awareness and Knowledge of Personal Gut / Digestive Health[ix]

Food and Beverage as a Medicine for Gut Health

Who is the Ideal Consumer?

It is consumers under the age of 45, those making over $80,000 per year, and those with a university / college degree that are more likely to put gut health on their top pedestal.[x]

What is the Best Way to Improve your Gut Health?

Our gut health impacts our immune system, our mental health, and our overall well-being. Here are some basic ways we can improve our digestive system:

  1. Reduce the amount of sugar, and processed foods we consume.
  2. Consume prebiotics and probiotics like whole grains, onions, and garlic.
  3. Consume a plant-based diet that includes fermented foods, and fibre.[xi]

Gut health continues to strike a chord with consumers. A research study conducted by Kerry Taste and Nutrition revealed global shoppers in 2021 ranked digestive health as third on their list of reasons to purchase “healthy lifestyle products”, up from fourth position in 2019. “Demand for functional foods that deliver digestive health isn’t a new trend – but it looks set to stick around and potentially increase”.

We leave you with this final word:

“People today are much more concerned with their overall well-being – which is why interest in digestive health is growing so quickly. Gut health has such a large and varied impact on the body and mind that is often seen as a gateway to more complete well-being”.[xii]

Linda Peek, Senior Marketing Manager of the Biotis Ingredient at FrieslandCampina Ingredients.

[i] Shoppers are Sharing What They Want. Are You Listening,, January 2023

[ii] More People Than Ever Using Food as Medicine, NDP Says.

[iii] Innovation in Good-For-Your-Gut Food Unlocks Health Benefits from Stress to Sleep,, August 2021

[iv] IFIC Survey: Consumer Insights on Gut Health and Probiotics,, April 2022

[v] Gut Health is the Wellness Movement’s Latest Trend,

[vi] Digestive Health Products Market Size,

[vii] Digestive Health Products Market to Reach USD $79.2Billion by 2030,, May 2022

[viii] Top Wellness Trends to Watch in 2023,, January 2023

[ix] The Analyst’s Take: Consumers Lack Knowledge of their own Gut Health,, September 2022

[x] IFIC Survey: Consumer Insights on Gut Health and Probiotics,, April 2022

[xi] How to Improve Your Gut Health,, April 2022

[xii] Innovation in Good-For-Your Gut Food Unlocks Health Benefits from Stress to Sleep,, August 2021