In the rapidly evolving world of health and wellness, 2024 heralds a significant shift, bringing the microbiome into sharper focus than ever before. This year, we’re witnessing an unprecedented emphasis on the intricate and essential role our gut microbiome plays in overall health and wellbeing.
With this in mind, we delve into the top categories shaping this year’s microbiome strategy, each reflecting the current trends and consumer insights. Here’s a glimpse into what’s hot and happening in the microbiome space in 2024, offering a roadmap for those looking to stay ahead in the dynamic and ever-changing landscape of gut health.
Move over Frankenstein food, make way for whole foods
According to ZOE’S Scientific Co-Founder Prof. Tim Spector, eating 30 different plants a week is the absolute best thing you can do for your gut microbiome. Why? Because eating a varied plant-based diet boosts diversity and feeds your microbiome the right balance for nutrients, just as nature intended it. Take, for example, Manitoba Harvest’s Hemp SuperGreens. This hemp and super greens blend contains nutrients from seeds, fruits and vegetables and exemplifies the idea of consuming the entire plant for a boost of planet-based fiber, vitamins and minerals. Similarly, Amazing Grass’s Superfood Greens Blend brings a diverse array of alkalizing plant nutrients to support a thriving microbiome and overall health.
Healthy hormone era
Hormonal health for both men and women is intricately connected to the health of the microbiome. This relationship stems from the microbiome’s role in regulating hormones, which are crucial chemical messengers in the body. The gut bacteria can influence the levels of various hormones, including stress hormones like cortisol and sex hormones like estrogen, which is essential for reproductive health. According to Mintel, a top health concern for women aged 44-58 is menopause1. That’s why it’s great to see brands like Bonafide focus on the unique needs of women navigating this hormonal change supporting menopause, PMS symptoms, vaginal health and healthier looking hair and skin. Other brands like Bond are pioneering a new era in hormonal health. Specifically designed for the different stages of a hormonal journey, this science-backed product line supports hormones, cycles and reproductive systems for both men and women.
Keep it simple
In a world where product labels often resemble a novel, the trend is shifting towards minimalism and that includes not only fewer ingredients but unsweetened, unprocessed and unflavored products. Excess sugar can feed harmful bacteria negatively impacting the microbiome and additives and processing, can disrupt the microbiome balance. More importantly for people with sensitive stomachs, it’s important to practice trial and error to see what is causing GI distress and fewer ingredients helps take out the guess work. That’s why it’s no surprise that Sports Research’s single ingredient and unflavored Collagen Peptides is the number one seller on Amazon. Another standout example is two ingredient Bio.Me’s Daily Prebiotic Fiber, offering a straightforward, gut-friendly formula with two clinically researched ingredients, truly a testament to the power of simplicity.
Funghi & Flora
Functional mushrooms, such as reishi, shiitake, and lion’s mane, offer a unique blend of nutrients and bioactive compounds that are beneficial for the microbiome. These mushrooms contain prebiotic fibers, like beta-glucans and polysaccharides, which serve as food for beneficial gut bacteria, fostering a healthy gut environment. This prebiotic action can enhance the growth of good bacteria and help balance the gut microbiota, which is crucial for overall health. Moreover, the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties in these mushrooms can help reduce gut inflammation, further promoting a healthy and diverse gut microbiome. OM Mushrooms’ Turkey Tail is a prime example, known for its immune-boosting properties and potential prebiotic benefits. Similarly, Optimi’s Multi-Mushroom Supplement harnesses the power of mushrooms in a way that could also positively impact gut health, aligning with the growing consumer awareness about the gut-immune system connection.
Eat your vitamins
In Canada they are called supplemented foods and in the US they are food products with added vitamin, mineral, botanical, amino acid, enzyme, or branded ingredients that bear a supplement facts panel. Essentially, they are souped-up foods, or supplements in more delicious formats. Take for instance Suzie Yorke’s Better Chocolate, delicious chocolate treats that provide functional health benefits from added macro nutrition and active ingredients. Similarly, Chewsy is a new kind of supplement in a fruity vitamin chew format that’s bursting with juicy flavor and even juicier health benefits. Set to rival the high-heat gummy, chews make it more convenient than ever to get a single dose of functional ingredients and can even accommodate temperature-sensitive ingredients with lower heat production.
Ozempic Odyssey: To a Balanced Microbiome and Beyond!
With the rise in popularity of treatments like Ozempic, the natural health industry is bracing for a shakeup and quickly identifying ways to ride the coat tails of this trend. Opportunities exist by looking at the change in consumer food volume intake or by analyzing the potential side-effects of the drug. Brands are either developing new products or repositioning old ones to fill in the gaps. A hot category to watch will be meal replacements that provide essential macronutrients like protein and fiber and micronutrients to feed a starving microbiome. A great example is Huel’s Protein Powder and entire line of nutritionally complete products that offer balanced nutrition in convenient formats. Supergut would be another noteworthy company with a complete suite of products to accompany the trend by replenishing nutrients and feeding the gut.