Innovative food supplements for the digestive system

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The global market for dietary supplements for the digestive sphere is booming. Indeed, sales in value have reached 172 million euros, representing growth of 10.9% between 2021 and 2022, and sales in volume have increased by 12.9%, reaching 12.6 million consumer units over the same period.(1)

By 2022, this market will account for 14.1% of the total pharmacy market, behind stress/sleep and vitality supplements.

Voir : Compléments alimentaires stress-sommeil : une promesse (toujours) en vogue.

This surge in the market for dietary supplements for the digestive sphere is explained in particular by an alarming fact: more than 1 in 2 French people claim to suffer from intestinal problems on a regular basis(2).

The growing awareness of the link between intestinal health and overall health is a further factor in the growing interest in dietary supplements for digestive health.

Digestive disorders: from discomfort to chronic disease

The most common digestive disorders in France

There are many different types of digestive ailments.

Digestive disorders are the most common, affecting almost half of all French people(3). The symptoms are well known and relatively easy to treat. They include diarrhea (63%), bloating (58%), constipation (51%), stomach ache (51%) and gas (47%)(4).

A growing problem is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This dysfunction of the small intestine and colon causes significant discomfort for sufferers, who account for 5% of the French population.

Food intolerances affect 15-20% of the world’s population. They are characterized by the appearance of various symptoms following ingestion of a food that the body cannot tolerate.

Finally, there are two chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD): Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). Crohn’s disease affects over 11 million people worldwide, and 3 million in Europe(5). In France, 1 person in 1,000 is affected, with 8 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants every year(6).

Causes linked to the societal context

The increase in digestive disorders of all kinds can have several origins. Starting with changing eating habits.

Indeed, the population increasingly favors refined and ultra-processed foods, which have a major impact on the balance of the digestive tract.

Link between emotional state and digestive comfort

The state of our digestive system can also be linked to our emotional state. Indeed, the expression “the intestine is our second brain” is not insignificant. Emotional state and digestive comfort have a reciprocal influence on each other. In fact, the enteric nervous system in the intestine is in constant communication with the brain.

In fact, 88% of French people believe that intestinal problems can have an impact on their emotional state, and over half believe that negative emotions, such as stress, have an impact on their digestive comfort. This is confirmed at physiological level: 80% of neurons in the intestine are afferent, i.e. they send information to the brain, and 20% are efferent, i.e. they receive information from the brain(7).

Innovative ingredients and galenics for the digestive sphere

A wide range of ingredients are available to help with digestive problems.

Among the best-known and most recognized in the plant world are ingredients such as star anise, peppermint and desmodium. However, more innovative ingredients such as basil, cranberry, tarragon and coriander have also been identified for their effectiveness in treating digestive disorders.

Other substances such as fiber, betaine (from beet) and vegetable charcoal are also on the list, for their properties in promoting good digestive health.

More innovative substances such as polyphenols, marine alginates, butyrate, enzymes and postbiotics are emerging to support digestive health.

Voir : Le point sur les pré, pro et post-biotiques dans les compléments alimentaires.

Postbiotics rebalance the intestinal microbiota, a key factor in digestive health. When the microbiota is out of balance, we speak of dysbiosis. This situation can then lead to digestive disorders.

Finally, fermented foods and specific foods may be recommended depending on the disorder. For example, avoid acidic foods and favor fiber-rich foods in cases of gastritis.

Promises: a lever for innovation in the digestive sphere

Innovations in the sector can also be achieved through the promises addressed.

They are becoming more and more precise, as demonstrated by the appearance in 2015 of the IBS segment and the growing topic of intestinal permeability.

Some promises are being renewed, such as those for antacids and reflux, and laxatives and anti-diarrhoea, with the use of innovative ingredients.

Others, such as the flatulence and bloating remedies, focus on their mode of action in order to stand out from the crowd, guaranteeing rapid action through both the choice of ingredients and the galenic formulation.


Today, the digestive sphere is a key segment of the nutraceutical market for innovation. With an increasingly holistic approach, promises are becoming clearer and compositions and galenics are following suit. The line between preventing disorders and supporting patients suffering from pathologies is becoming increasingly blurred. Food supplements for the digestive sphere continue to surprise us!

[1] Nères en partenariat avec OpenHealth Company,  Baromètre 2022 des produits de santé et de prévention de premier recours en pharmacie,2023

[2] Actif n°82, La digestion en transit, 2023

[3] Ifop, Les Français et les troubles digestifs, 2021

[4] Actif n°82, La digestion en transit, 2023

[5] Ipsos, Nutrition in a pill: Europeans’ attitudes towards food supplements, 2022

[6] Amelie, Maladie de Crohn : définition et facteurs favorisants, 2020

[7] Actif n°82, La digestion en transit, 2023