26 May 2022
“Gut health is the trend on everyone’s lips right now”, The Gut Stuff co-founder Alana Macfarlane tells us at the Global Taste Tomorrow event. “It seems to be hurtling into public consciousness at a very fast rate as the research on the microbiome grows.” The gut health market is skyrocketing and Alana and her sister and fellow co-founder Lisa have the data to prove it:
Google searches for gut health have grown by over 400% in the past 5 years, according to Google Trends
“Consumers have transformed their approach to digestive health from reactive to proactive”, says market intelligence agency Mintel
“The global human microbiome market is expected to reach US$ 1,197.08 Mn in 2025 from US$ 257.30 Mn in 2017”, as is stated in ‘The human Microbiome Market 2025’ by The Insight Partners
Fibre One saw the most growth in the snack bar category in 2020, growing by over £5m (22% YOY) - Nielsen 52 w/e 5 September 2020
The sisters got fascinated by gut bacteria and health when they participated in a special gut study on twins. They found out that while they share 100% of their DNA, there’s only 30 to 40% similarity between their gut bacteria. Meaning they even as identical twins, they can’t eat the same diet. That sparked their interest in the subject and put them on the quest to make gut health digestible. With their online platform The Gut Stuff they are empowering people to find out more about gut health science.
Even though gut health is a trending topic, consumer knowledge is lagging behind and there’s a lot of confusion around the terminology. Lisa: “the baseline knowledge is really low. A lot of people don’t even know what their gut is, most people think it’s just their stomach.” That’s not the case, there are multiple organs involved and the sisters like to compare the gut to a ‘big orchestra’.
Most of the time when we’re talking about gut health, we mean specifically the gut microbiome, consisting of over a trillion microbes such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. Most of them can be found in the large intestine. “It’s a bit like a tropical jungle”, says Lisa, “with loads of species working and living - hopefully in harmony - together”.
The gut microbiome is linked to almost every aspect of the body and has an incredible amount of functions, such as:
Controlling blood sugar
Fighting hormonal imbalance
Supporting the immune system and preventing infections
Communicating with the brain and nervous system
Influencing bone strength
There are many factors that influence the gut, such as exercise, smoking, age, the place you live, stress and genetics. “But diet is the one that we all have control over and can change today”, Alana says. Just a small diet change can very rapidly influence the make-up of the gut microbiome.
The more diverse the species of bacteria in your microbiome are, the healthier your gut is. Lisa’s advice for better gut health? Eating at least 30 different plant-based foods a week and switching focus to fiber.
The gut health hype is also increasing the fiber market, “which is great news for bakery and bread”, according to Alana. She describes fiber as the ‘unsung hero of nutrition’. Most people consume nowhere near enough fibers. We need 30 grams of fiber a day, but 9 out of 10 people don’t reach that number.
Fiber bulks our stool and feeds the microbes in the gut. That’s why it's essential to consume enough fiber and different types as well. How come we don’t eat loads of it then? “It’s been lost in the low carb hype”, Lisa states. “That is why bread and fiber messaging is so important”.
“We also can’t talk about bread without talking about sourdough. Not only does it taste incredible, but the fermentation makes nutrients more bioavailable and also breaks down the gluten to make it better digestible to some people.”
The Gut Stuff twins see a lot of exciting possibilities with all the newfound scientific knowledge around gut health, such as personalized prebiotics and toilets that can analyze your stool. But for food producers in the bakery industry, the main challenge is going back to basics: providing consumers with a lot more information and education about fiber and gut health. Consumers need to be inspired to jump on the fiber bandwagon.
Taste Tomorrow is the world’s largest ecosystem for consumer understanding in bakery, patisserie and chocolate. By tracking local and global consumer behaviors, attitudes and choices it provides us with valuable, in-depth insights. We are able to use these insights to track the evolution of trends and reveal new ones, helping your business to stay connected to your customers and discover new opportunities.