If consumers are becoming increasingly focused on digestive wellness, it will likely become a topic of discussion with chiropractic wellness patients
When patients want better health, the two areas they typically attack are diet and physical activity. They start eating more fruits and veggies and make exercise a part of their daily routine. Self-care becomes a priority in an effort to fend off disease and achieve a higher level of wellness. Another area within the nutrition and health space that is beginning to garner more attention is digestive wellness and health.
A quick look at the numbers reveals that tending to the gut is a growing priority for many, fueled by new research, sending it on an upward trend.
Digestive wellness trends
The digestive health products market is expected to reach $57.54 billion globally by 2025 according to Grand View Research. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.3%. For comparison purposes, the projected CAGR for the nutrition market as a whole is only 6.6% for this same time frame, highlighting the importance that consumers are now placing on this one aspect of health.
Products in the digestive health category include prebiotics, probiotics, and food enzymes. It also encompasses food items designed to promote better digestive health — such as dairy products, cereals, and some beverages — as well as dietary supplements.
Grand View goes on to explain that some of the driving factors for this projected growth include increasing demand for additives that increase a food’s nutritional value and a growing geriatric population. However, it is also due to more consumers seeking the potential benefits of digestive health products that new research shows impacts a patient’s mood, energy levels and brain function.
Digestive disease prevalence
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD) reports that digestive diseases are a major issue in the United States, affecting between 60-70 million Americans. They are also responsible for 36.6 million doctor’s visits annually, 7.9 million trips to the emergency room, and 3.8 million outpatient appointments.
Some of the most common digestive issues and conditions include:
- chronic constipation
- diverticular disease
- gastroesophageal reflux disease
- inflammatory bowel disease
- irritable bowel syndrome
A 2018 study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology adds that, out of 71,812 people surveyed, 61% indicated that they had at least one gastrointestinal symptom during the prior week. Heartburn/reflux was cited most often (30.9%), followed by abdominal pain (24.8%), bloating (20.6%), diarrhea (20.2%), and constipation (19.7%).
Digestive health research
Through research, we are beginning to learn more about the gut and how it can impact overall health. For instance, a 2016 study ties digestive health with total body health via the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system is part of the autonomic nervous system, yet functions outside of central nervous system input.
This study indicates that there are multiple disorders that impact a person both gastrointestinally and neurologically. Autism spectrum disorders, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are a few mentioned. This underscores the connection between the gut-brain axis and how it can potentially lead to greater health or greater disease.
Other pieces of research attempt to take a more in-depth look at the connection between digestion and health. One example is a 2020 study in the International Journal of Tryptophan Research which shares how tryptophan, an essential amino acid, interacts with three major metabolic pathways in the gut. It aids in gut function during both healthy and disease states, making it an important part of the health and wellness discussion.
Meeting patient demand
If consumers are becoming increasingly focused on digestive wellness, it is likely that this will become a topic of discussion with at least a few of your chiropractic patients. They may share their concerns about their digestive health or ask your advice about how to create a more positive gut-brain interaction.
A 2019 review states that, when it comes to probiotics, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two that are generally recognized as safe (GRAS). This review also suggests that “good” probiotics include those that:
- are from human origin;
- are non-pathogenic and non-toxic;
- influence local metabolic activity;
- interact with immune modulator activity; and
- survive in the gut even if pH is low or there is the presence of organic acids.
The Cleveland Clinic offers additional guidance for those interested in taking products. Specifically, it recommends not taking them if the immune system is compromised and being willing to try a new probiotic if the current one doesn’t appear to be providing any benefit within a few weeks.
It’s also important to recognize that no probiotics currently have the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help prevent or treat specific diseases according to the American Gastroenterological Association. That’s why this organization suggests using digestive health products made by well-established companies and paying attention to the labels and packaging to better understand what is in them and also how to store and use them properly for the best (and safest) effects.