Can we hack our way to better gut health?
When discussing our wellbeing, the topics of gut health, immunity and digestion soon appear in conversation. To such extent, #guttok is continuously trending on TikTok. The popping up of food and drink products promising a greater sense of wellness and control is contributing to the awareness of functional foods.
Functional foods are products that have added ingredients to enhance their benefits, often for nutritional or medical reasons. Fortified cereals and breads are an established industry norm, but it is an area in the food and drink sector that is increasingly seeing a lot of innovation and growth. From yoghurts with added probiotics, to vegetables bred to have increased vitamins and minerals.
It’s January, which means it’s hard to avoid messages about fitness, food, and health. And while our New Year’s resolutions are full of great intentions to make ourselves fitter and healthier, are we destined to fail?
Dr Julia Jones, neuroscientist, and founder of Holidity, believes the odds are stacked against us. In this article, Julia explains why she believes functional foods are the latest trend that could in fact, significantly impact the health of the nation.
Getting it wrong for generations
“For decades, diet and fitness trends have failed to produce healthy nations with most of us being time-poor. Most of the population is in a perpetual state of stress, overwhelm and sleep deprivation, driven by the increasing demands from work and the rising financial burden of the cost-of-living crisis.”
“Most of the population, through no fault of their own, struggle to buy and consume healthy food. The food and drink shopping environments use neuroscience to tempt consumers to buy high-profit, ultra-processed, junk products. The manufacturers also use neuroscience to refine recipes that are virtually impossible to resist. In combination with confusing and misleading marketing and packaging, unhealthy choices are made.”
“The new innovative functional foods are using the same bio-science of the junk manufacturers but in a positive way. These foods are fortified with additional health ingredients to try and help achieve the essential nutritional intake levels that cells desperately need.
Functional food innovations can help hack unhealthy eating and drinking habits. The growth of delicious probiotic foods on retail shelves is helping make it easier to consume more live healthy bacteria into our gut. The food innovation sector is driving new products that are a lot smarter. These functional foods are aligning themselves with existing things that consumers enjoy eating and drinking.”
“After extensive research at Kings College London and Stanford Medical school, it became clear that a viable way of helping consumers support their gut health was through existing daily habits. As a result, ‘Hack’ was launched in 2023 as a prebiotic instant microground coffee.”
“Functional foods can make behaviour change a lot easier. The importance is now to ensure they are increasingly available and affordable.”
Dr.Julia Jones joined the Growing Kent & Medway Food Accelerator in January 2023 and with the help of leading experts and facilities at the Medway Food Innovation Centre, Hack was officially launched at the BBC Good Food Show in late 2023. Hack is available to purchase at small independent retailers or buy here.
Pictured: Dr Julia Jones on the day Hack Coffee launched!
Do you have a functional food idea or product?
If you’d like help taking a new product to market or researching the functionality of your plant-based food and drink brand, get in touch to see how we can help.