Could 2017 be the year of the prebiotic?

In the battle to win the hearts and guts of U.S. consumers, long-neglected prebiotic manufacturers are coming out swinging this fall, alleging that probiotic supplements aimed at replenishing good gut bacteria don’t often work and can potentially do harm. Instead of swallowing beneficial bugs, they contend, consumers should
spend their money on food for the ones they’ve already got.

“As it becomes increasingly clear that you cannot alter the microbiome with probiotics, that huge consumer base that has driven the probiotic demand is going to be looking to switch to something that actually works,” says Peter Swann, MD, chief medical officer for the new prebiotic supplement company ISOThrive. “Prebiotics are where the literature is.”

He may, according to some new studies, have a point.

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Inside you’ll find:

A neglected category:

While today’s market may be quiet, many signs suggest brighter days are on the horizon. Notably, according to SPINs data, products containing both prebiotics and probiotics soared in the past year, up 27 percent.

Prebiotics 101:

As more and more people swear off wheat—which constitutes about 70 percent of dietary fiber—prebiotic supplements are poised to play an even more important role.

New products and creative marketing:

Chart of probiotic claims by aisle at Expo West 2016