InsightsNatural health: Digestion, food as medicine and niche marketing

Natural health: Digestion, food as medicine and niche marketing

Naturally functional and specialised products that focus on food as medicine rather than traditional tablet supplementation have won favour with consumers this year.

Digestive health remains at the top of the agenda. More broadly, consumers are taking a systematic and holistic lifestyle approach to health and wellbeing, driven by a greater understanding of links between physical, emotional, environmental and even spiritual health.

Innovative manufacturers are tapping into existing daily consumer habits (drinking tea, consuming smoothies) to deliver new functional benefits that target specific health concerns or market segments. Some of the most successful brands are incorporating lifestyle messages with functional ingredients that offer benefits for digestive health, brain health, and lifestyle disorders, like anxiety, stress, fatigue/low energy and sleep.

Highlights include:


Prebiotics and resistant starches are the latest in gut health with consumers starting to understand their role in the good health equation. (Prebiotics are food for the probiotics.) Major launches in this area include Natural Evolution’s Green Banana Resistant Starch Multi Fibre and Naturally Good Pitch Fest award winner Kara Landau’s Uplift Food prebiotic fibre.

Collagen and Gelatin

Marine collagen emerged in inner beauty supplements in late 2017, but the bone broth trend and consumer understanding of the broader benefits of collagen and gelatin has led to an explosion of products in this area in 2018. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and is found in muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels, digestive system and tendons.

Leading brands are niching products with additional functional ingredients and specific messaging to target segmented audiences around specific concerns, like inner beauty, digestive health, joint and bone health. For example, the Nutra Organics collagen and gelatin range has made it easy to add these supplements in powder form to existing daily meals, like smoothies and breakfast cereal. The range includes an inner beauty formulation Collagen Beauty with marine collagen; Collagen Body promoted for joint, bone and gut health and Natural Gelatin with gut health focussed messaging.


Adaptogens are herbs and other plants that help the body with stress, anxiety, sleep, the immune system and more. They support your adrenal system, combatting the negative effects of cortisol, fight stress, and calm you down while boosting your energy.

Ashwahganda is 2018’s hero with high retail demand as well as cordyceps, reishi and chaga mushrooms, now available in various tea and lattes blends, such as Four Sigmatic ‘s functional mushroom drinks and elixirs. Introduced in January by Unique Health Products, they include blends for energy, mental focus, stress relief, restful sleep and immune system support. Other adaptogens on the radar include maca, Asian ginseng, holy basil/tulsi, Siberian ginseng, astragalus root, sea buckthorn, licorice root, and Rhodiola rosea.


Seaweed has been an on-trend snack for years and is now emerging in Australia as a useful ingredient in other categories from beauty and personal care to natural health, a trend likely to continue through 2019.

Highlights include Phytality’s ULTANA Phytoplankton vegan supplement high in Omega-3 EPA and PhycoFood and PhychoHealth products developed out of Blue BioTech Shoalhaven, leading Australian aquatic biotechnology centre.


This year’s focus on healthy ageing is on brain health with sage the in-demand ingredient due to its benefits on cognition and memory, and Essential Nutrition’s Sibelius Sage launched into Australia this year. Awareness of the benefits of sage is expected to grow through 2019, with UK ingredient manufacturer Sibelius Natural Products extending research to younger people and athletes.

Technology, personalised health, nutrigenomics and bio hacking

The convergence of new technology, personalisation, the science of nutrigenomics and the latest trend of ‘bio hacking’ are making waves in 2018. Biohacking is the process of using science, biology, and self-experimentation to take control of and upgrade your body, mind, and life; while nutrigenomics is the study of how genetics interact with the foods we eat and is one method of bio hacking.

Consumers dealing with particular health concerns or seeking a performance edge are looking for ways test and record their individual needs so they can tailor solutions to meet specific needs. Related launches include the EASYpH and We Test testing kits, and Australian company Microba’s innovative gut microbiome testing kit.

Protein for everyone

No longer just in the sport and fitness domain, 2018 has seen a growing “protein for everyone” movement tapping into the increase in healthy, active lifestyles. Innovative product launches blend protein with functional ingredients to tackle key health concerns and target niche market segments, growing the category to underserved audiences.

Highlights include fast-growing brand Tropeaka, which exploded onto the health scene targeting millennial women with functional blends including for vitality, strength, immunity, and cleansing, and White Wolf Nutrition vegan protein bends launched this year at Naturally Good.

Self care

Products with ingredients or messaging that focus on self care have been growing in popularity across a range of categories, particularly where they align with existing relaxation rituals or behaviours to nourish, restore and de-stress.

Highlights include various teas, such as Salubre’s “organic herbal infusions to restore health and wellness” and essential oil brands like DoTerra that offer multiple functional benefits beyond self care, such as toxin-free cleaning.

This article first appeared on Naturally Good.

Lisa Crawford Jones is an award winning journalist, editor of What's New in Healthy Products and content manager to Naturally Good. She's a health content specialist with two decades’ experience spanning senior positions in public health policy; media, communications and advertising; and both consumer and trade markets for healthy packaged goods.

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