Digestive health

Enriching ingredient solutions to support digestive wellness

Create consumer appeal with foods and beverages that support digestive health

Digestive health is more than a passing trend, it has become a mainstream need, not just for people managing health problems such as inadequate digestion, nutrient absorption, defecation issues, damaged intestinal barriers and leaky gut problems. Choosing food and beverages that reduce symptoms and alleviate discomfort is incredibly important. Even for consumers lucky enough to not experience these issues, promoting gut health is top-of-mind.

  • 71% of consumers see digestive health as “very” or “extremely” linked to immune health1
  • 8 out of 10 consumers say fiber, prebiotics and probiotics are “very” or “extremely” relevant to their diet1
  • 75% of consumers are willing to pay more for health claims such as digestive health2

Furthermore, a growing body of scientific research suggests that a healthy gut microbiome is closely linked to overall well-being, with implications for immune health, weight management,3 metabolic health,4 and overall health4 — meaning it’s up to food and beverage brands to deliver the digestive health benefits consumers seek.

Understanding digestive health

There are three notable components that contribute to digestive health, and considering each allows for a better understanding of consumer needs and corresponding ingredient solutions:​

  • Optimal digestion, nutrient absorption and regularity​
  • An efficiently functioning intestinal barrier
  • ​A healthy gut microbiome

Optimal digestion, absorption and regularity:

Chewing thoroughly, eating slowly and consuming foods that can be easily digested allows for increased satiety and improved breakdown of food. Fiber can improve the absorption of minerals like calcium and magnesium and also promote regularity.

An efficiently functioning intestinal barrier:

The intestinal barrier can prevent harmful substances from entering the blood stream. Dietary fiber, prebiotics, balanced nutrients and phytonutrients can support an adequately functioning intestinal barrier.

A healthy gut microbiome:

The gut microbiome is comprised of both helpful and potentially harmful microorganisms in a person’s GI system. A healthy diet high in fibers and prebiotics can support a diverse and healthy microbiome.

Partner with Ingredion to enhance food and beverages with digestive health benefits  

Want to find an effective way to increase your growth in the digestive health market? Our solutions for dietary fiber, prebiotics and early life digestive health bring digestive health benefits to yogurts, baked goods, beverages, smoothies, bars, snacks, soups, ready meals and more.

Review our ingredients and some common digestive health questions below, and then contact our experts for help in identifying a solution that’s right for your product. Together, we can find new ways to strengthen your brand in the health space and create value for consumers who want to optimize their digestive health and fiber intake.

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What do today’s consumers want in digestive health?

Our infographic dives into consumer insights and digestive health trends impacting in-store purchases.

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Webinar: Fiber in Focus Create consumer value with digestive health benefits

Manufacturers have an opportunity to drive brand loyalty and growth by (re)formulating fiber-enriched products that help consumers in their pursuit of improved digestive health. Join us March 5, 2024, as Ingredion experts will discuss:

  • Evolving consumer demand for digestive health solutions
  • The value proposition of fiber benefits
  • Formulating fiber-rich food and beverage products that deliver on taste, texture and functionality
Register today

Digestive health solutions

With today’s standard diet, it can be a real challenge to meet recommended nutritional needs. There is global recognition that most individual diets fall short, and increased fiber intake is beneficial. For instance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends adults consume 28 grams of dietary fiber per day, even as the average intake for U.S. adults aged 20 years and over is just 16.9 grams per day.5

Through Ingredion's holistic formulation approach and by using the right specialty fibers, starches and nutrient-rich, plant-based ingredients, our developers can help you improve the gut-health aspects of products without sacrificing taste and texture.

Necessary for appropriate digestion, nutrient absorption and defecation, our digestive health and fiber enrichment ingredients promote function of the digestive barrier and a healthy microbiome. Our full digestive health ingredient portfolio includes prebiotics (scFOS, GOS), soluble and insoluble fibers and low-FODMAP ingredients from different raw material sources. 

Our digestive health toolkit includes:

  • Prebiotics — scFOS (short-chain oligosaccharides) and GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides)
  • Fiber fortification — scFOS, inulin, resistant starches (tapioca, potato, corn & high amylose corn, wheat and rice) and hydrocolloids
  • Low-FODMAP — tapioca and potato resistant starches

 

Fiber-enriched crackers

Ingredients to support digestive health

Learn about how our innovative fiber ingredients, including scFOS prebiotic fibers, resistant starches (types 2 and 4) and GOS can provide your consumers with digestive health benefits and help them meet their daily fiber goals.

Explore fibers

Webinar: Fiber’s role in nutrition, health and wellness snacking

Formulating snacks with a fiber focus can have a positive impact on your brand growth and appeal. Learn more consumer insights and healthy snacking trends from Ingredion experts.

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Frequently asked questions about gut health

How do you improve gut health?

Gut health is often described by a combination of characteristics including appropriate digestion, nutrient absorption, defecation, adequately functioning intestinal barrier and a healthy gut microbiome. High-fiber diets have been linked to gut health. Dietary fibers are a group of non-digestible carbohydrates that can reach to the gut, which helps maintain bowel movements and a regular stool frequency. Certain fiber types, such as scFOS and GOS, promote calcium absorption. In addition, fibers such as resistant starch, gums, pectins, scFOS and GOS can nourish the gut microbiota as their main energy sources to expand population and form a healthy ecosystem. Studies have shown that short-chain fatty acids that are byproducts of fiber fermentation may enhance the intestinal barrier, which is critical to maintaining appropriate nutrient absorption and defending pathogenic molecules and bacteria.

What is leaky gut?

A “leaky gut,” characterized by loose gaps in the intestinal walls, is usually caused by a disruption to the gut microbiome (dysbiosis) and impaired tight junctions which restrict the intestinal permeability. Dietary fibers such as inulin, resistant starch, gums, pectins, scFOS and GOS can nourish the beneficial gut microbiota and promote the release of short-chain fatty acids. Butyrate, one of the short-chain fatty acids, consistently showed benefits of improving tight junctions in various studies. Foods including fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains are generally good sources of dietary fibers. However, note that patients with gastrointestinal sensitivities such as irritable bowel syndrome should reduce high-FODMAP foods to avoid side effects such as bloating and flatulence7.

What are the best foods for gut health and digestion?

Overall, fruits, vegetables, legumes, cultured dairy products and whole grains that are high in fiber are best in promoting the beneficial gut microbiota and maintaining a functional intestinal barrier. Fully cooked foods are more easily broken apart, and thus, more digestible. 

What ingredients are good for digestion?

Certain fibers such as inulin, resistant starch, gums, pectins, scFOS and GOS can nourish the “good” gut microbiota and be metabolized by them into short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids play an important role in maintaining the intestinal barrier, the intactness of which enables a proper digestion of food and absorption of nutrients and water.

Selection of healthy food on table

Solutions for nutrition, health and wellness

Our portfolio of science-backed solutions for enhancing nutrition, delivering health benefits and enabling wellness lifestyle choices is designed for manufacturers and brands looking to deliver winning consumer products.

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Find a solution for your specific food or beverage application

Whether you’re trying to simplify labels, ensure products are delicious or help consumers make healthier choices, Ingredion has the ingredients and expertise to help.

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Formulating for health

Address consumer demands for food and beverages that help them treat and prevent medical conditions.

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Plant-based proteins

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Sugar reduction

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Beverages

Get ahead with in-demand ingredients tailored to your needs.

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Plant-based dairy alternatives

Solve plant-based dairy formulating challenges with Ingredion's deep knowhow and portfolio of solutions.

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Resource library

Explore a wealth of resources from Ingredion to help you be what's next™.

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Explore your opportunity in nutrition, health and wellness

Contact us to see how Ingredion's solutions and expertise can help you create more consumer value and win market share.

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1Ingredion Proprietary Research, Digestive Health Study (U.S.), 2021

2ATLAS Ingredion Proprietary Consumer Research, 2022

3Collins, Stephen M., Michael Surette, and Premysl Bercik. "The interplay between the intestinal microbiota and the brain." Nature Reviews Microbiology 10.11 (2012): 735-742.

4Cani, Patrice D. "Gut microbiota—at the intersection of everything?" Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology 14.6 (2017): 321-322.

5USDA; GTC Nutrition Data; What We Eat in America, NHANES 2017-2018.

6Innova Market Insights (CAGR 2017-2022).

7Only products that have formally applied to Monash University’s Low FODMAP certification program may claim to be Monash Low-FODMAP Certified. The application process to Monash University includes undergoing lab analysis to confirm FODMAP compliance. Monash University Low FODMAP Certified Trademarks are used under license in the United States by Ingredion Incorporated. The information described above is offered solely for your consideration, investigation and independent verification. It is up to you to decide whether and how to use this information. Ingredion Incorporated and the Ingredion group of companies make no warranty about the accuracy or completeness of the information contained above or the suitability of any of their products for your specific intended use. Furthermore, all express or implied warranties of noninfringement, merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose are hereby disclaimed. Ingredion Incorporated and the Ingredion group of companies assume no responsibility for any liability or damages arising out of or relating to the foregoing.