'Mind' Your Food: Neuro Nutrition To Flourish In 2018

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Consumers, today, are increasingly seeking products that boast tangible benefits in supporting specific health needs—a concept which has come to be known as ‘consumption with a purpose’. By Michelle Teodoro, Global Food Science & Nutrition Analyst, Mintel.

As food links directly to health management, functional food and drink products commonly cater to the concerns of health-conscious consumers. Over the years, people’s concerns have focussed on heart health with a shift towards digestion and, more recently, cognitive function. According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), global food and drink launches carrying brain and nervous system claims remained niche over the last five years, with less than one percent carrying such a claim.

Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, mental fatigue and memory problems are prevalent across the world, and this opens the door for brands to provide tailor-made products which cater to consumers’ desire for better neuro nutrition.

Neuro nutrition is relevant to everyone, from seniors looking to improve their mental well-being, to younger consumers, parents, and adults who seek increased mental agility. In fact, Mintel research reveals that as many as two in five urban Thai consumers are motivated to use functional food and drink for cognitive health improvement, while one in three parents in China with children aged 4-12 are eager to give their kids supplements which will help to bolster their mental development. Over in the US, over one in four seniors are focusing on improving their mental well-being.


Neuro-nutritive Food And Drink Products For Various Demographics

  Baby biscuits for brain power


Plasmon Oasi Nella Crescita Baby Biscuits from Italy are suitable for toddlers aged six months and up. It claims to contain calcium and B vitamins with iron, both of which contribute to normal cognitive and immune system development.

Brain gum for seniors

Lotte Xylitol Hani Tsukinikui Mint Anti-Stick Gum from Japan is formulated with Ginkgo biloba-derived flavonoid glycosides and terpene lactones, which can help give middle-aged and older consumers a memory boost.

Adaptogens And Nootropics Carry The Torch For Neuro Nutrition

Adaptogenic and nootropic substances are key to good neuro nutrition as they optimise and enhance brain functionality and health—in particular memory concentration, focus and alertness.

The potency of substances such as the lion’s mane mushroom, holy basil and B-vitamins, will continue to encourage more research on their use across various categories. In order to effectively tap into people’s desire for improved cognitive health, recognised substances such as caffeine and L-theanine seem like a good place to start.

In the US, half of consumers say that ‘natural’ is the most important purchase factor when shopping for food and brands should emphasise their natural and functional profile to appeal to these consumers.


  Focusaid Dietary Supplement Beverage, USA


Focusaid Dietary Supplement Beverage is a doctor developed product that claims to contain targeted supplements and is made with raw organic blue agave. The product is formulated with American ginseng, which supports learning and memory; Rhodolia rosea, which supports concentration and is a nootropic; gaba, which helps with stress, clarity, concentration and focus; alpha GPC, which helps with memory, cognition and contains nootropic; acetyl-l-carnitine, neurotransmitters; vitamins C and D, which contain antioxidants and support the immune system; yerba mate and green tea, vasodilators and sources of natural caffeine; and full B complex and folic acid which support focus and endurance.


Taking Inspiration From Neuro-Focused Diets

Brands offering neuro nutritive benefits are also taking inspiration from diets which help to improve cognitive function. Such examples include the MIND diet designed to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Korean Temple Food, of which emphasis upon simple, wholesome ingredients and mindful cooking practices is meant to improve mental clarity and aid meditation. Diets like these encourage a more general shift towards healthy eating habits, giving them widespread appeal and the ability to provide numerous benefits aside from brain health.

Mintel research reveals that over three in four US consumers who are not diagnosed with gluten intolerance/sensitivity are still eating, or used to eat, gluten-free foods as they feel that it is better for their health. On top of this, over one in three consumers in the UK who eat free-from foods say they consume them because it makes them feel better. It is therefore safe to assume that consumers see a healthy diet plan as an in-road to obtaining a healthy lifestyle, or as a good way to cater for a specific health need.


Products Suitable For Neuro Nutrition-Related Diets

For vegans


Carpe Diem White Tea Drink with Curcuma and Yuzu from Switzerland contains spicy curcuma with fruity yuzu, which is said to meditate not only the body but also the mind.

  Whole grains for the brain

Plookluck Organic Sangyod Rice from Thailand is said to have higher fibre content than other rice varieties, helping it to protect against cardiovascular problems and Alzheimer’s disease.


The famed low-carb ketogenic diet, a talking point among health professionals and consumers alike, is not only associated with weight loss but is also ideal for maintaining good brain health. Brands have clearly seen the potential of keto diets in the past. Quest Nutrition, for instance, offers keto-friendly products while Bulletproof offers its keto coffee and water variants.

Know Brainer Foods, known for its ketogenic creamers and organic grass-fed butter, has partnered up with Nestle to create a multi-serve, keto-friendly product with added collagen protein, which boasts convenience and offers a plethora of cognitive benefits.

With the success of the ketogenic diet and consumer preference for functional foods and convenience, opportunities exist for brands to expand their functional repertoires across multiple categories, offering a robust platform for delivering neuro nutrition innovation.


The Opportunity

Neuro nutrition is expected to see increased coverage over the course of 2018, especially as awareness of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and mental fatigue grows. Brands looking to move into the neuro nutrition market should reformulate their products with brain-boosting ingredients such as adaptogens and nootropics, while popular diets such as MIND, ketogenic and Temple Food diets could offer immense inspirational scope.

Currently, Mintel GNPD reveals that dairy and hot beverages are the categories rifest with products carrying neurological benefit claims and this opens the door for more cross-category expansion, with on-the-go convenience—in the form of snack bars and multi-serve offerings—being of particular interest.


*All images from Mintel GNPD


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