Functional foods gain traction as alternative to OTC digestive remedies

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Functional foods gain traction as alternative to OTC digestive aids

Related tags Apple cider vinegar Vinegar Apple

At the crossroad of Americans’ increasingly sedentary work- and lifestyles and their demand for decadent food is a growing need for digestive remedies and an opportunity for supplements and fortified foods to edge out over-the-counter treatments that come with unwanted side effects, according to research from Euromonitor.

Market research from Mintel​ confirms this trend with the company’s health and wellness analyst Marissa Gilbert noting in a recently released report that the growth of the digestive health market in 2016 softened slightly compared to prior years even though the need for digestive health treatments did not change. Rather, she said, consumers are becoming more interested “in improving overall digestive health with proactive treatments such as probiotics.”​ 

To help meet this consumer demand, manufacturers are launching a wide range of products aimed at digestive health, including fermented and probiotic-enhanced options. Included among the diverse options launching in the first half of this year are:

Ona’s Functional Fuel Plant Protein Bars with Probiotics – ​Healthy treat company Ona expanded its portfolio into the functional fuel space last month with the launch of its Functional Fuel Plant Protein Bars with Probiotics, which blend sunflower and pumpkin protein with nuts, seeds and several adaptogens to help ease stress, promote muscle recovery, provide “clean energy​” and facilitate relaxation. It added 1 billion CFU of GanadenBC30 probiotics to each bar because “gut health is so important for overall well-being,”​ and to “make it easier for people to maintain a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet on the go,”​ according to the company.

Lifeway’s BioKefir shots – ​This summer, Lifeway Foods will introduce a trio of fat-free, high-potency probiotic kefir shots “to power up digestion, heart health and immunity,”​ according to the company. The shots contain 12 probiotic cultures and offer a 99% lactose-free alternative to many dairy-based delivery platforms for probiotics.

Amazing Grass’ Elixers and Green Superfood Effervescent lines – ​Beginning in June, Amazing Grass will ship two new product lines that combine adaptogenic herbs and functional ingredients with fermented greens to support wellness needs, including gut health. The company explains that fermenting the grasses in the beverages aids with “pre-digestion, while offering superior bioavailability.”​ The line of three products – Beauty, Brain and Belly – come as powders and effervescent tabs that can be blended with juice, water or milk.

Stoneyfield Organic’s probiotic enriched YoBaby yogurts – ​On the premise that “gut health is the foundation for overall good health as babies grow,”​ yogurt maker Stonyfield Organic began adding probiotic BB-12 to its YoBaby​ line in February. The company explained that it added the probiotic after conducting a consumer survey that found parents occasionally add probiotics to their children’s diets to help ease upset stomachs, fend off colds and flu and counter the negative side effects of antibiotics. Despite this awareness of probiotic benefits, less than a quarter of parents included probiotics in their children’s diet daily, the survey found. By adding probiotics to yogurt the company hopes to make daily consumption easier. 

Bonafide Provision’s Drinkable Veggies line – ​The frozen, organic bone broth company expanded into the refrigerated section earlier this year with the launch of its ready-to-drink, USDA Organic Drinkable Veggies line, which are positioned as an alternative to traditional vegetable juices that it says can be packed with MSG. The line of five blends includes several options with digestion-boosting ingredients. For example, Revive, includes fennel to aid digestion, and Renew includes burdock root to help with detoxification and digestion, according to the company. The line also includes Revitalize, which has lemon and mint to aid digestion.

KeVita’s Apple Cider Vinegar Tonics – ​While technically released before the start of the new year, KeVita positioned its Apple Cider Vinegar Tonics as a slightly sweetened, less acidic alternative to the “somewhat disgusting” ​trend of drinking apple cider vinegar to help absorb food and aid digestion. The Tonics combine apple cider vinegar with water kefir culture for an extra boost of digestive- and immune health-supporting probiotics, according to the company. Sweetened with stevia and apple juice, the line includes six flavors: Turmeric Ginger, Chili Ginger Lime, Cinnamon, Meyer Lemon, Ginseng Mandarin and Elderberry. 

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