The future of health and nutrition is undoubtedly intertwined with the gut microbiome, a complex community of microbes residing in our digestive system.
As scientific understanding deepens and the gut health field advances, we are understanding more about how this intricate ecosystem of bacteria, viruses, and fungi not only influences digestive health but also plays a pivotal role in overall well-being.
Certain types of bacteria in the gut microbiome, known as beneficial bacteria or more colloquially as ‘good’ gut bacteria, are known to have particular health benefits to the host. Through gut bacteria’s interplay with the body, the benefits of a well-supported gut – in addition to digestive health – include supporting the body’s natural defences in the immune system, and interestingly, cognition and mental health.
We are fast approaching an industry tipping point in consumer awareness of the gut microbiome’s importance, and the demand for better gut health support in the form of nutraceuticals is on the rise.
So, what do health and nutrition formulators need to look out for? One rapidly category is synbiotics, and it’s a clear area of opportunity. The category is poised to further advance gut health support by combining the benefits of prebiotics and probiotics in a single formulation. Prebiotics play an important role in the future of health and nutrition and combining them into Synbiotics futher leverages the potential benefits, so let’s explore what they are, their potential, and the opportunities they present for health and nutrition formulators.
The evolving nature of synbiotics
The term ‘synbiotic’ originates from the Latin words ‘syn’ and ‘biotic,’ meaning united or combined and referring to biological material, specifically bacteria. The current definition of a synbiotic, according to ISAPP (International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics), is a combination of prebiotics and probiotics in one product, designed to confer a specific health benefit to the host. Interestingly, this definition could expand in the future, to also cover the inclusion of other elements, such as postbiotics.
These combinations harness the scientific benefits of both prebiotics and probiotics in one product, increasing the population of beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome and nourishing them at the same time, ultimately supporting overall wellbeing. At present, there are two acknowledged types of synbiotics – synergistic synbiotics and complementary synbiotics.
Synergistic synbiotics involve live probiotics and co-administered prebiotic substrates, working together to provide targeted benefits. Conversely, complementary synbiotics have each component working independently, with the prebiotic supporting resident beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Synbiotics: an industry tipping point
For health and nutrition formulators, the market has to be available and ready; it’s no use harnessing the latest in gut health science if it can’t directly meet the needs of a proactive health audience. The synbiotic category shines and is set for rapid expansion globally.
While both prebiotic and probiotic products are proving successful in their own right, synbiotics offer a unique opportunity to combine multiple empirically proven products into one convenient supplement for consumers. By combining scientifically substantiated pre and probitics and testing the combination, formulators can produce a finished product that can be scientifially substantiated and which may confer additional benefits.
Indicating the scale of the opportunity, research firm Mordor Intelligence predicts a robust 8.2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for synbiotics until 2027, suggesting the ideal time for formulators to explore this category is now.
Evidence meets convenience
Key to unlocking the potential of synbiotics is understanding the evolving needs of today’s health-conscious consumers. With increasingly busy lifestyles, consumers seek convenience and simplicity in product delivery methods, underpinned by clear scientific evidence. Multivitamins, for example, have been successful in providing consumers with a comprehensive solution to meet their daily nutritional requirements without the hassle of taking multiple supplements individually.
In the same vein, synbiotics offer a holistic approach to gut health by addressing both the replenishment of beneficial bacteria and the nourishment of existing gut flora. This convergence of convenience-seeking consumers and growing gut health awareness creates an exciting opportunity for health and nutrition brands, to tap into an engaged and proactive health market.
As we are learning about beneficial bacteria in the gut, there is the opportunity to develop synbiotics for more targeted health applications. One fascinating route is in supporting cognitive health.
The brain and the gut have a bi-directional relationship, known as the ‘gut-brain axis’. This system can exchange signals through the central and enteric nervous systems and goes some way to explaining why emotions are so often connected with the gut, such as having nausea or being sick when worried, or ‘butterflies in the stomach’ when nervous. As the synbiotic category develops, it could well expand into cognitive health, with supplements designed to support better mental health by supporting the gut-brain axis.
Our partnership with probiotic expert, Probi AB, has led to the co-creation of proven synergistic and complementary synbiotics. Available as complete ‘off the shelf’ standalone solutions, the scientific legwork has already been done, making the combinations of Bimuno® GOS and Digestis® and Bimuno® GOS and Defendum® great ‘plug in and play’ options for formulators.
Science and evidence must be at the heart of new product development, ensuring that products like Bimuno® GOS, which selectively nourishes beneficial gut bacteria associated with digestive health, immune function, and cognition, are comprehensively studied and proven. In fact, the combination of Bimuno® GOS and Digestis® is backed by close to 300 scientific publications, showing how simple it can be to put science at the centre of new product formulations.
The future of gut microbiome modulation
It’s an exciting era in the nutritional industry, and the future of health could lie in the modulation of the gut microbiome. As the synbiotic category emerges – just one example of the power of ‘biotics’ – it’s clear that formulators can capitalise on enormous commercial viability.
At Clasado, we’ve seen the formation of this market, and its subsequent eruption, first-hand. We have made our name as the go-to partner in prebiotics, with the most comprehensively studied prebiotic ingredient of its kind. Our focus on research has led to Bimuno® GOS being the subject of more than 110 studies on its efficacy and safety, including more than 20 clinical trials. From our key position in the nutraceutical supply chain, we’re excited to see how businesses capitalise on the remarkable potential of the synbiotic category in the months and years to come.
If newly developed products can be underpinned with robust scientific backing, formulators can make the most of this emerging category and deliver key first-to-market products. Synbiotics have the potential to revolutionise gut health and overall wellbeing by speaking directly to the needs of today’s health audience, creating a brighter and healthier future for us all. Health and nutrition brands and formulators take note; the synbiotic category is not just ‘one to watch,’ but a core commercial opportunity not to be missed.