We all learned about biomes as kids, but now that microbiomes are a thing, we’re left wondering what the climate is like in our gut rather than the tundra. Here’s a quick refresher on gut microbiomes in case you’re a newcomer to this massive, microscopic trend: your body is made of hundreds of trillions of cells, yet a mere 43% of those cells are your own human cells. The rest are a collection of bacteria, archaea, fungi, and even viruses that, together with your negligible number of human cells, form a microbiome. Your gut is home to your most important subset of your ecosystem as it’s been found to affect not only gut health but heart health, risk of diabetes, and even brain health. That’s a big deal, and consumers are beginning to catch on.
And, why wouldn’t they? With 70-80% of all of your immune cells deployed in your gut alone and the focus on immunity in the recent year, it’s no wonder the Digestive Health Market is on track to hit $57.54 billion by 2025. Even before the pandemic, people were testing out gut health products like prebiotics and probiotics at an extremely rapid pace. Consumer awareness of the gut microbiome arguably grew faster than researcher’s knowledge of the same. Nowadays 48% of US consumers contend that a key part of their wellbeing is their digestive health, 1 in 4 say they are more likely to buy a food or beverage product that optimizes their gut health, and 98% of men with curly mustaches drink solely kombucha (the other 2% we never see because they’re in a bathroom somewhere).
Consumers aren’t just interested in the immunity boost either. A major attraction to getting on the gut health train is the cognitive enhancement it claims to offer. Just think about it – if you’re bloated or constipated, you’re not going to be very focused. Maybe that jerk who cut you off in traffic just had explosive diarrhea. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that the scientific community has a much more complex explanation for that guy’s bad day and its connection to his lousy gut health: his ‘second brain.’ The fancy people in white lab coats call it your enteric nervous system (ENS) and have found that the ENS is responsible for the mood shifts experienced by those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other gastrointestinal ailments. Studies are showing that people suffering from these afflictions also suffer from depression and anxiety at a higher rate than others. After all, our gut microbiome contains 90% of our serotonin receptors.
The good news is there are lots of new products on the market if you’re interested in making it rain in your microbiome. Baked goods have made a probiotic premiere with products like JicaChips Sea Salted Baked Jicama Chips. High-fiber pasta is gaining traction with names like Papa Vince Busiate Pasta. If this still seems too disciplinary for you then there’s such a thing as hard kombucha, of which some is wonderfully crafted by a company called Kombrewcha. Maybe this whole gut health thing won’t be as hard as you thought it would be.