Brain Health and Cognitive Wellness on the Radar
Consumers continue to seek optimum benefits from foods and beverages via biohacking, a wellness behavior in which future-oriented wellness consumers use system thinking, science, biology, technology and self-experimentation to take control of and upgrade their body, mind and life. FoodNavigator-USA recently reported in their article Brain Health: The Next Big Trend in Functional Beverages? that Chris Miller, founder and CEO of nootropics brand Koios, believes that brain health may become an even bigger category in functional foods and beverages than gut health, and he cites Tesla CEO Elon Musk as a big investor in the cognition category. The article notes how as consumers begin to shift away from reliance on coffee and energy drinks to power through increasingly hectic days, there is a rising interest in alternatives to sharpen our cognitive function while simultaneously allowing for restful sleep.
As we found in our Health + Wellness 2019: From Moderation to Mindfulness report, the desire for cognitive function reflects trends in dietary supplement usage today where supplements are taken to address consumer needs beyond the “body-as-machine” mindset. Traditionally, supplements have been used by consumers as nutritional insurance in case they aren’t getting enough necessary nutrients from their diet or lifestyle. Multivitamins, omega-3 and vitamin D are all examples of this mainstream usage model. But supplements are also an easy way to engage with the latest H+W trends. Probiotics, adaptogens, nootropics and botanicals speak to the H+W themes of the moment: coping with everyday physical and cognitive stress and overstimulation.
As relates to cognitive health, coffee and energy drinks, we find that consumers of all ages are beginning to seek alternatives to caffeine that provide functionality for short- and long-term cognitive wellness and performance. What was once relegated to the supplement space is converging with the functional beverage sector for occasion-based needs. There is rising consumer interest in the hybridization of supplements and functional beverages that incorporate synergistic formulas rooted in plant-based botanicals and scientifically driven extracts of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Considering the current consumer understanding of probiotics as related to gut health, it’s quite possible that nootropics might experience a similar awareness in relation to cognitive brain health. Stay tuned as we explore this emerging topic in our currently launching study, Functional Foods & Beverages and Supplements 2020.