Wellness is now a culture that is now worth $1.8 trillion with no signs of slowing down. Post-pandemic, health-conscious individuals are increasingly viewing wellness through a wider and more sophisticated lens; one which spotlights not just the importance of a healthy diet for physical health, but also overall mental wellbeing (51%), good sleep (54%) and digestive health (49%).

Globally, 63% of consumers associate mental wellbeing with holistic health , and more than 1 in 3 consumers worldwide reported prioritising their mental and emotional health to live healthier lives. Notably, Singapore, which was recently recognised as a Blue Zone — defined as a place where its people live longer, happier, and healthier lives — boasts a per-capita spend on wellness of US$2,898. This outranks global (US$706) and Asia-Pacific (US$399) averages.

As individuals become increasingly aware of the connection between their lifestyle choices and their emotional and psychological wellbeing, the demand for food and beverage products that foster mental wellness has surged. Considering the profound influence of dietary choices on our mental health, it comes as no surprise that 52% of global consumers select foods and beverages that enhance and improve their mood.

Today, we know that one fundamental element for a healthy mind is a healthy gut.

Let’s talk — Conversation between gut and brain via gut-brain axis

Research has demonstrated that the gut and the brain share a complex two-way form of communication that influences many aspects of human health, including mood and mental wellbeing. Evidence is accumulating that nutrition can play a central role in modulating this ‘cross talk’ by supporting healthy gut microbiota and providing pathways to better mental, brain and cognitive health.

A recent study conducted by Jackson et al. , demonstrates that the intake of the prebiotic dietary fibre oligofructose promotes a significant increase in Bifidobacteria in the gut and can result in substantial improvements in mood in healthy adults with mild to moderate feelings of anxiety and depression. This is an important piece of scientific evidence, contributing to the fascinating science of the gut-brain-axis. The results add to the growing body of evidence showing that the composition of gut microbiota and resulting metabolites impact our mood state, and also demonstrate that targeted influence with prebiotics may be a viable way to improve mood.

However, there are only very few prebiotics which are scientifically and clinically proven to be classified as such. BENEO’s chicory root fibres, Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose, belong to this exclusive group of proven prebiotics, complying with the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) definition. In addition, the Chinese Nutrition Society in China recognises inulin and oligofructose as one of the few selected scientifically proven prebiotics that are the most well-researched.

With foods and drinks covering ‘wellness’, and especially mental wellbeing aspects continuing to be top priority for consumers, manufacturers are granted the perfect opportunity to harness prebiotics, such as chicory root fibres, to offer nutritional advantages for a healthy gut and mind.