Trust Your Gut

A few months ago, one of us found themselves at the Mayo Clinic and oddly enough, getting a glimpse into the future of food — as medicine — with all signs pointing to the health of our guts. An esteemed physician described a world where doctors would prescribe a personalized “yogurt cocktail” that would be filled at pharmacies in lieu of pills. A pre- or probiotic drink (or both: synbiotic) that would solve for our exact deficiencies and by doing so, restore overall health. We see several signs that this could come to pass.

First, gut health is being touted as the next frontier. The gut has been described as “our body’s second brain” and crucial to both physical and mental health.1 Increased stress, processed food and antibiotics have ravaged our gut flora, compromising our resilience.2 Pre- and probiotics are being studied for the role they may play in the prevention or management of obesity,3 as well as for inflammatory diseases and allergies.4 Google searches for “gut health” and “microbiome” have grown triple digits in the last five years;5 and the investment community went wild following a Bill Gates article on the potential of microbiome intervention.6

Second, personalized probiotics are possible. In fact, a Swedish startup has developed a kitchen counter device that customizes pre- and probiotic filled yogurts.7

YOGUT ME app and device

Third, highly sophisticated probiotic drinks are being developed for testing. Scientists at the University of Birmingham are seeking funding for a clinical trial of a probiotic drink called pCURE, designed to combat antibiotic resistance.8

Lastly, consumers gravitate toward yogurt-based concepts. Yogurt and yogurt-based drinks are the most preferred delivery vehicle for ingredients promoting digestive health.9

Chart showing category interest in purchasing products containing digestive health ingredients

Despite current developments, we see the potential of gut health expanding into categories beyond yogurt and beverage. Probiotic claims are emerging in everything from dips and spreads to pasta, and social media influencers are buzzing about where you can find them. To set your product up for success, design for personalization. If gastroenterologists are already recommending patients have customized gut mapping, we can assume this will become standard procedure amongst physicians. In this environment, identifying specific strains and providing supporting research will set you apart from those promoting generic, probiotic claims.10

[1] “What’s your beef? How bacteria could save dairies”, Food Dive, 3/12/20
[2] “How to know when your intuition is talking to you”, Fast Company, 2/26/20
[3] “Prebiotics stamp authority in deciding gut health and overall wellbeing”, Nutraingredients, 1/13/20
[4] “Big in Japan: Probiotics most popular non-vitamin/minderal pick for children”, Nutraingredients, 1/27/20
[5] Ganeden
[6] “2020 predictions: Staff changes and FDA, CBD, personalization and the microbiome”, Nutraingredients, 1/15/20
[7] “Nespresso-style gut health: Bioengineer creates personalized probiotic yogurt machine”, Nutraingredients, 1/06/20
[8] “Probiotic drink could offer new way to combat antibiotic resistance”, Science Focus, 2/20 [9] Kerry Global Consumer Survey, 2019
[10] “Unleashing the power of probiotics”, Food Business News, 3/25/20