Consumers are confused about what foods are good for digestive health, a new survey by consultancy New Nutrition Business reveals. The number of people who believe bread, meat and milk are good for digestion is almost equal to the number of people who believe they are bad.
The survey asked 3,000 people from the UK, Australia, Spain, Brazil and the US to rank some common foods as good or bad for their gut health.
While 38 per cent of respondents singled out bread as the key culprit behind gastrointestinal distress, 24 per cent said it was good for digestive wellness.
And despite kefir and fermented vegetables being hyped as gut health heroes, more people believed bread was good for digestion than believed kefir (17.6 per cent) or fermented vegetables (15.8 per cent) were good.
Consumers are just as divided over the gut health benefits of milk and meat.
- Nearly half of those surveyed, 46.6 per cent, believed dairy milk was good for digestive health, while 30.6 per cent thought milk was bad for their digestion.
- Just over half, 55 per cent, said they choose lactose-free foods for their digestive health (although only 15 per cent claim to be lactose-intolerant).
- For meat, 27 per cent of respondents said it was good for digestive wellness, while 33 per cent believed it was bad.
“Contradictory consumer beliefs about which foods are good or bad for digestive health indicate how strongly attitudes about food and health are fragmented,” says Joana Maricato, research manager at New Nutrition Business. “Most people are adopting a wide variety of behaviours in relation to diet and health.”
This is a result of growing mistrust in official dietary guidelines, according to Maricato, and people’s desire to take back control of their diets. “Changes in dietary advice over the past 15 years have created consumer scepticism about the ‘expert’ opinions of dieticians and nutrition researchers, just at the moment that technology has made it easier for people to find dietary information for themselves,” Maricato adds.
Most respondents, 76 per cent, said they thought messages about diet and health were confusing. Asked where they learn about healthy eating and diet, most said they searched online and read blogs, while only 28 per cent asked a nutritionist or a dietician.