February 07, 2022

Functional Wellness: Cultural & Biz Trends

Previously, we published a post called Functional Foods vs Medicine: All The Deets + How Hemp & CBD Fit In. It was an all-out a feeding frenzy on the topic of functional wellness: what are functional foods, how do hemp and CBD fit in, etc.

It was an satisfying buffet of info on a profoundly interesting subject. It was also not all we wanted to share with you. Below, is a look how and where functional wellness is expected to fare in the future.

We come at this from both the demand side (That’s you!) and the supply side (That’d be industry….). This way you can get a feel for the whole ecosystem of societal and business trends.

Functional Wellness Recap

In case you didn’t get a chance to peruse Functional Foods vs Medicine: All The Deets + How Hemp & CBD Fit In, this little summary may be helpful.

The What’s What Of Functional Wellness

Here’s a quick overview of some functional wellness terms and concepts:

  • Functional wellness, aka functional medicine, is an approach to healthcare that focuses on root causes of illness rather than simply treating symptoms. In functional medicine, the context of individuals’ unique needs, genetics, lifestyles, etc. in critical.
  • Functional nutrition is one dimension of functional wellness that concentrates on using the foods, beverages, nutraceuticals, and supplements you consume to bring about positive health outcomes beyond just nourishing your body.
  • Functional foods are the tools by which functional nutrition works to achieve its objectives. There are all kinds of functional foods — like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, legumes, fish, tea….

Benefits Of Functional Nutrition

Functional nutrition can be leveraged to help you prevent and treat health conditions as well as support your overall well-being.

Tackling health concerns through the foods you eat can be an attractive option. Compared to some potential alternatives, it may — among other things — be more:

  • Preventive and less reactive
  • Focused on root causes
  • Holistic
  • Gentle on your body
  • Cost-effective
  • Enjoyable

We doubt functional nutrition will replace standard medicines in all cases. But, it’s certainly carved out a space in the medicine cabinet (and kitchen cupboard). Using functional foods can be a wholesome complement to one’s total, long-term care plan. Definitely merits discussing with your doctor!

Hemp & CBD Are Sooo Functional

Hemp (as food) and hemp-derived CBD are functional powerhouses. These substances can be used on their own for loads of wellness benefits. Alternately, they can be incorporated into other food, beverage, or supplement products, fortifying them to become even greater functional wellness aids.

Super-nutritious hemp has been shown to care for your bod by supporting heart and metabolic health, supporting immune function and weight loss, and helping digestion and the gut microbiome.

By now, you’re probably well versed in how good CBD can be for you. But here are a few of the highlights. Research indicates that CBD has effective anti-inflammatory, anti-seizure, antidepressant, neuro-protective, and pain-cutting properties. Data suggest that CBD does a good job elevating and stabilizing mood, facilitating better sleep, and supporting addiction recovery.

People & Market Watch

Now that you’re up to speed on all things “functional wellness,” let’s take a look at where it’s headed.

Societal Trends

Functional nutrition isn’t a new-fangled fad. In recent years, various corners of society — academics, doctors, the public — have been turning back to the ideas of functional nutrition. Data is showing that knowledge of, interest in, and attitudes about health and wellness have been changing for a while.(1) As such, there’s a resurgence of literature and research on functional foods and how they fit in with pharma-centric Western medicine.

A recent study found that 56% of Americans believe that some medications can be replaced by functional foods.(2) High-involvement, hands-on approaches like functional nutrition seem to have people feeling more empowered to take more control over their own wellbeing.

Mixed into this landscape are hemp and CBD. Consumption of both has gone gangbusters and all indicators allude to this continuing. Cultural cues signal that these mighty functional wellness substances are growing more accepted by the public every day.

The COVID Effect

Numerous food industry sources report that COVID and the pandemic have helped to hasten or propel the functional foods movement.(3) People want to know what they can do to make their bodies more mentally and physically resilient in the face of the virus and these challenging days we live in. Just munch on these vittles:

  • The pandemic has motivated about 30% of consumers to daily use of functional foods and drinks.(4)
  • Foods in the plant-based, low-glycemic and unsweetened, gut health, and nutrient-dense categories had at least double-digit sales growth in 2020.(5)
  • 33% more consumers are expected to view food as medicine in 2022 as compared to in 2020.(6)

COVID has also had a profound impact on CBD consumption. Huge numbers of people were brought into the CBD fold, citing the desire to prevent illness, manage stress, improve sleep, and more. For many of those whom CBD was already part of their self-care routine, usage increased. Check out How The Covid-19 Pandemic Changed The Cannabis Industry for a more in-depth look.

Trendy Categories

Perhaps spurred (or extra nudged) by the difficult climate we’re in, certain demand categories are blazing ahead of the rest of the pack. We mentioned the nutrition, gut and metabolic health, and other functional wellness tranches of interest to general population above. Among CBD and cannabis users specifically, though, immune support, sleep, pain relief, well-being, and relaxation are clear areas of concern.(7)

Commercial Trends

Business is often both a leader and a follower. As far as functional wellness goes — you can bet they’re coming at this from all directions.

Companies are paying attention — consumers want more choices when it comes to personal care. Businesses see that folks are getting savvier and doing research. Industry’s gotten the message that people want options that include dietary solutions as well as other natural and complementary alternatives like supplements, therapies, etc.

Functional Wellness Products Galore

Consequently, food manufacturers are innovating their products. They’re creating functional wellness solutions in all the categories consumers are eagerly dispensing money.

In line with this trend and in lock-step with permissive legislative changes that are rolling out, food manufacturers, supplements makers, and CBD producers are developing and distributing more and new infused foods, drinks, and supplements. You’ll really start seeing a lot more dual-duty CBD + targeted wellness products — like CBD sleep aids, CBD immunity support, and CBD gummies for women. And, as it becomes legal, CBD-spiked foods and drinks of all stripes will become ever more mainstream and available.(8)

Even drink titan Coca-Cola has expressed the potential of getting into the CBD-infused wellness beverage game.(9) You know we’ve come a long way when this iconic American company want a piece of the action. (But, also, soda sales are down and, you know, capitalism.)

Industry Activism

On the back end, the food lobby is hard at work trying to get lawmakers to craft advantageous rules. Whether or not this is in consumers’ best interest is…debatable.

Functional Wellness, Hemp & CBD — Onwards & Upwards

Functional wellness is exploding. All cultural and industry markers indicate there’s no stop in sight.

Consumers are eager to be more hands-on with their health and want more complementary and alternative care options. In their eyes, functional foods, beverages, and supplements — including hemp and products infused with CBD — check both boxes.

Makers and sellers of functional wellness and hemp and CBD products are happy to accommodate market demands. Even businesses not already in the functional foods or cannabis space are looking to edge their way in. In true push-pull fashion, industry groups and leaders are often working behind the scenes, too — helping to drive demand and regulatory change.

Stay tuned for interesting and exciting innovations in functional wellness as we move through 2022!



  1. Askew, K. (2021). Functional food is no COVID fad: “Consumers have fundamentally changed their attitudes to health and wellness.” Foodnavigator.com. https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2021/03/24/Functional-food-is-no-COVID-fad-Consumers-have-fundamentally-changed-their-attitudes-to-health-and-wellness
  2. (2021). What’s Trending in Functional Health and Wellness. Evergi. https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/5f97839dbb364182a84ef584/6182c7cd17df47ae9234a7de_q421-evergi-whats-trending-in-functional-health-and-wellness-report-public.pdf
  3. Nettle, L. (2020). Covid-19: Driving demand for functional foods in 2021. FoodBev Media. https://www.foodbev.com/news/covid-19-driving-demand-for-functional-foods-into-2021
  4. (2021). Top Food Trend Predictions for 2021. Kalsec. https://www.kalsec.com/food-trends-2021
  5. Balderrama, A. (2021). 2021 Functional Ingredients Trends: Food As Medicine Becomes a Priority. SPINS. https://www.spins.com/resources-functional-ingredients-trends-food-as-medicine-2021
  6. (2021). Functional Foods, Sustainability Reflected in Top Food Trends for 2022 from Tastewise. Food Industry Executive. https://foodindustryexecutive.com/2021/12/functional-foods-sustainability-reflected-in-top-food-trends-for-2022-from-tastewise
  7. Scanlon, M. (2020). Cannabis and CBD for Wellness. Brightfieldgroup.com. https://blog.brightfieldgroup.com/cannabis-and-cbd-for-wellness
  8. Schieber, H. (2019). Got CBD? The Rising Star in Functional Food, Beauty, Supplements. Schieber Research. https://researchci.com/got-cbd-the-rising-star-in-functional-food/
  9. Nichols, K. (2018). Coca-Cola eyes CBD “functional wellness beverages” as soda market cools. MJBizDaily. https://mjbizdaily.com/coca-cola-eyes-cbd-functional-wellness-beverages-as-soda-market-cools

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