4 Factors Influencing Gut Health Supplement Innovation in 2022

Jul 18

From influencers talking openly about bloating, to a greater awareness of the gut-brain axis and digestive health problems such as IBS, gut health is trending. And for good reason.

Clinical research is shining a light on the interconnected nature of the gut and our mental and physical health.1,2 Consumers are also more aware of the essential role the gut plays, with two in three globally now recognizing the importance of digestive health for general well-being.3 Consequentially, there is now more demand than ever for dietary supplements to support gut health. In fact, the market for digestive health products is estimated to reach $71.95 billion by 2027.4

With a knowledgeable and discerning consumer base, increasing scientific research, fewer taboos and a general consumer trend towards holistic well-being, there is a significant opportunity for brands to capitalize on the gut health supplement trend. But first of all, it’s important to understand the main factors influencing this growing category.

Factor 1: Sharing is caring

In recent years, once taboo topics related to physical and mental health are being talked about more openly. What was previously brushed off as ‘tummy troubles’ is now a topic for discussion with influencers openly talking about their struggles with IBS5 and showing off their colostomy bags.6 Given that globally 40% of people have functional gastro-intestinal disorders that impact their quality of life,7 this openness is often received with a sense of relief that people can not only talk about gas, bloating and uncomfortable digestive issues, but that there is also help available.

The same can be said regarding the de-stigmatization of mental health. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an estimated one in two people experience a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime, and one in five were living with mental ill-health at any given time.8 With mental health issues so widespread, people benefit not only from talking about their health concerns but also in discovering proactive and preventative ways to help them manage their symptoms.

This is part of the reason why gut health supplements are proving so popular with consumers looking to improve their overall well-being. A healthy gut is not only associated with protection against infections9 but it is also linked to sleep and mood via the gut-brain axis.10 Therefore, gut health supplements may allow consumers to support more than one health area at the same time – important for the more than 40% of consumers in Europe who prefer to buy multi-purpose supplements.11 Products that can offer and claim more than one health benefit, as well as illustrate the link between physical and mental health, complement the movement towards holistic well-being

Factor 2: Homing in on holistic health

One major trend that has emerged in the wake of COVID-19 is the focus on holistic well-being over extreme lifestyle trends and intense diets. Holistic health, which focuses on the pursuit of overall well-being and the understanding that mental and physical health are inexplicably intertwined, has become a hugely popular focus area.

While the link between the gut microbiome and the rest of the body is a relatively emerging area of science, savvy consumers, curious about the latest health research, have caused an explosion of interest in gut health.

Research also shows that consumers are more likely to believe in a product’s effectiveness if they are familiar with the ingredient.12 Therefore, it’s crucial to educate consumers on innovative and emerging solutions like prebiotics.13 Developing products which combine ingredients like prebiotics with back-to-basics ingredients like protein, vitamin C, vitamin D and iron can also add a trusted appeal to new formulations and bolster holistic well-being perceptions. It may also allow for brands to add multiple claims on a product which is important as the number of claims per product has increased over the last five years.14

Factor 3: The more we know

Increased visibility of common health concerns is leading to more people taking action. For example, 46% of 26-35-year-olds and 42% of 36-45-year-olds say they actively want to improve their mental health,15 and 38% of consumers have taken action to improve their sleep in the past 12 months.16

However, it’s not enough for brands to allude to health benefits on packaging. Consumers today are increasingly up to speed on the latest clinical research and often know what specific ingredients they want when researching supplements. This is having a positive impact on the demand for emerging ingredients such as prebiotics as consumers are discovering the potential benefits through their research.

Scientific understanding is also charging forward. Prebiotics are a form of dietary fiber that feed the good bacteria in the gut, supporting the production of nutrients, like short-chain fatty acids, that can help support a healthier digestive system. Prebiotics such as galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) have been shown to stimulate the growth of Bifidobacteria within the gut microbiota.17 But there’s more to prebiotics than improving digestive health.

Researchers are now unravelling the complex link between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis, and several studies have already concluded that prebiotics can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, as well as boosting mental resilience.18 Meanwhile, the link between gut health and muscle function is also coming to the fore. Emerging studies now suggest a correlation between the gut microbiota, muscle function, athletic performance and body composition, known as the gut-muscle axis.19

This boon in scientific research allows brands to create digestive health products with proven benefits across a range of health areas that matter to consumers. Clinical research also helps build trust between brands and consumers and could help to generate loyalty in an increasingly brand-agnostic landscape. And lastly, but certainly not least, improved scientific understanding enables brands to create even more effective supplements that will help people feel even better than before.

Factor 4: Busy buyers need accessible applications

Today’s consumers are busier than ever. According to one survey, 73% of consumers say they suffer from feelings of stress.20 Consumers who are struggling to juggle work, family and other commitments can find it difficult to effectively maintain a healthy and balanced diet. As a result, consumers are turning to supplements for an efficient and personalized way to support specific health needs.

Busy consumers look for products that can boost their health, fast, and without the fuss. This is fueling innovation with on-the-go gut health supplements, especially for formulations with high purity prebiotics, an ideal fit for supplement applications as they can deliver an effective dose of an active ingredients in the most desirable formats. From gummies and powder sticks to tablets and capsules, manufacturers seeking to develop easy to consume and effective supplements for their time-poor consumer base will further innovate new applications for this demanding market.

What’s next for gut health supplements?

The gut health supplement market is booming. With once taboo health topics now openly discussed, increased scientific understanding and a push toward overall well-being, the time is now for brands to tap into this growing trend. And prebiotics are attracting a lot of consumer attention as their health benefits are proven with clinical research. Additionally, as prebiotics are relatively new to the market, particularly when compared to probiotics, they offer plenty of opportunities for brands to differentiate themselves by developing multi-purpose supplements that deliver more than one health benefit.

At FrieslandCampina Ingredients, we recently expanded our prebiotics portfolio with the addition of Biotis™ GOS-OP High Purity. We specifically developed this high-quality prebiotic to drive innovation in the growing gut health supplement market.Biotis™ GOS OP High-Purity uses a patent-pending process to deliver a higher concentration of available galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS), ensuring a typical GOS content of 94%. Thanks to this high concentration of GOS, combined with recent research showing the efficacy of GOS at doses as low as 2g,21 Biotis™ GOS OP High-Purity is ideal for usage in small and popular formats like tablets and gummies. Plus, it supports low lactose formulations popular with health-conscious consumers.

dietary supplements for gut health

Our focus on premium, science-backed ingredients, helps us support product developers to create supplements that are not just effective and easy to incorporate in new recipes, but can be leveraged in a variety of applications to suit every regional preference and consumer need.

Request a sample or learn more about our solutions for gut health here.


  1. Sheiman, J. et al, 2019
  2. Johnstone N et al., 2021
  3. Innova ‘Top Trends’, 2022
  4. Digestive Health Market Size, 2., 2022. Digestive Health Market Size & Share | Growth Report [2027]. Fortunebusinessinsights.com. [Accessed 25 April 2022].
  5. Hosie, R. (2020), ‘This influencer’s photos show the reality of life with IBS, from extreme belly bloating to flare-up friendly outfits’.
  6. Milller, K. (2021), ‘Influencer Shares Photos of Herself Walking Runway Show with Her Ostomy Bag on Full Display’, Health. Available at: https://www.health.com/condition/rare-disorders/influencer-ostomy-bag-runway
  7. Sperber, et al., 2021
  8. OECD (2021), A New Benchmark for Mental Health Systems: Tackling the Social and Economic Costs of Mental Ill-Health, OECD Health Policy Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris.
  9. Mousa et al., 2022
  10. Montiel-Castro, et al., 2013
  11. Innova Category Survey 2021; Innova Nutrition & Health Survey
  12. Innova, ‘Top Ten Trends’, 2022
  13. Gibson et al., 2017
  14. Innova Database 2017 – 2021
  15. Innova, Lifestyle & Attitudes Survey, 2020
  16. Innova, ‘Health & Nutrition Survey’, 2021
  17. Schaafsma et al., 2021; Schoemaker et al., 2022; Johnstone et al., 2021
  18. Schmidt K et al, 2015
  19. Przewłócka, K. et al., 2020
  20. FMCG Gurus, Top Ten Trends 2022
  21. FrieslandCampina Ingredients Consumer Concept Study, 2022
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