Combined prebiotic and probiotic solutions – also known as synbiotics – can take formulations to the next level, according to Vicky Davies, global marketing director of performance and active nutrition at FrieslandCampina Ingredients (FCI).
“They work in a complementary way to potentially enhance effectiveness – and with awareness of the benefits of prebiotics on the rise, consumers are beginning to take note [of this synergy],” she tells NutritionInsight ahead of an upcoming webinar held in collaboration with Lallemand Health Solutions.
Notably, the gut health giants recently revealed a partnership for two gut health product concepts. Pro-Digest Health Shot and Pro-Digest Bowel Support marry FCI’s Biotis galactooligosaccharides (GOS) prebiotic ingredient with Lallemand’s probiotics to address the rising demand for scientifically backed solutions for gut health.
“There are still new directions to explore with the combination of prebiotics and probiotics, which allows brands to combine the best of both worlds to have a greater impact on health,” Davies explains.
Spotlight on pro and prebiotics
Probiotics have been an enduringly popular functional ingredient for some time now and Davies anticipates that this will stay consistent.
“It’s not surprising given their proven benefits and that 25% of global consumers suffer from digestive health complaints and almost half find products for improving gut health appealing.”
A knock-on effect of this is that there is also increased interest and awareness in prebiotics – the non-digestible fibers that feed these beneficial bacteria in the gut. According to a 2021 survey from Innova Market Insights, around a third of global consumers say they are very or extremely familiar with prebiotics.
“We expect prebiotics to grow further as there is a lot of exciting research underway in areas such as digestive health, immunity and specific areas of brain health, targeting areas like sleep, concentration or stress,” says Davies.
Shifting attitudes toward digestion
According to Davies, consumer satisfaction with digestive health is on the decline. This coincides with the prevalence of digestive health problems becoming more common across the globe.
“Over 40% of global consumers say digestive complaints have had some influence on their lives. This regular disruption in people’s routines is pushing many to take proactive measures. Consumers are taking diet and lifestyle interventions to address their digestive health over visiting doctors and hospitals,” says Davies.
Another impact is that digestive health is hitting the mainstream public health consciousness, she continues.
“Fortunately, a combination of improved scientific understanding and the once-taboo topic now being open for discussion has provided the first steps to alleviating digestive problems for hundreds of millions of people worldwide.”
Consumer demands for healthy products have also evolved. While historically, they may have sought out a reduction in things considered “bad” – sugar, fat and artificial additives, for instance – now they are increasingly looking for additions that give them a supplementary health benefit.
It is here that dietary supplements and fortified food and beverages can play an important role, flags Davies.
“Additionally, today’s consumers don’t want to compromise on taste and texture – products must be functional, effective, convenient and taste good. The challenge for manufacturers is formulating products that respond to each of these needs and can deliver on consumers’ increased interest in their health.”
At the same time, it’s increasingly important for gut health solutions to be scientifically backed and clinically proven, she underscores.
What’s coming next?
Looking ahead, Davies expects that more research will come to light about the gut-brain axis and the role a healthy gut microbiome plays in facilitating not only digestive health but also mental well-being, immunity and muscular health.
“As well as interest into the mechanisms of cognitive function and immunity via the gut, emerging areas like the gut-muscle axis are of increasing interest and may well be a key area for research and development in the near future.”
Davies concludes that bringing positive findings of these areas together will be a key part of responding to the growing consumer interest in a holistic approach to health.
On October 26, Davies will be joined by other FCI and Lallemand experts to discuss new concepts for adult gut health that combine prebiotics and probiotics. Webinar registration is currently open here.
By Katherine Durrell
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