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What’s next for bugs?

What’s next for bugs?
The helpful microbes are poised to push into markets beyond gut health.

What realm will probiotics invade next? It could be cognition, hormonal health and sports nutrition, according to industry consultant and functional nutritionist Sunita Kumar during a recent presentation in Las Vegas. Nutritional Outlook summarized her talk, “Bugs, Biomes and the Brain.”

The global probiotics market is currently worth about $35 billion, according to Euromonitor International, which predicts it will reach $48 billion by 2020.

Research is growing in support of the gut-brain axis, said Kumar. In preliminary research, mood, motivation, learning ability, memory, hyperactivity, and even autism have all shown some sort of link to the health of the gut microbiome, she said. Last year, even the Huffington Post included a story about how probiotics may help kids become better students in their back-to-school coverage.

Digging into the power of gut-brain axis leads to how it affects other systems, like the hormonal system, which could be ripe territory for probiotics said Kumar. Areas to watch? Probiotics that address estrogen dominance, ovarian cysts and thyroid conditions.

Kumar said that sports nutrition may become one of the most promising areas for probiotic growth, noting probiotics that could support the body’s utilization of protein.

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