The Rush to Embrace Immunity
Interest in immunity skyrocketed when the coronavirus pandemic first hit, but as Australians adjust to a ‘COVID-safe normal’, is it a trend that’s here to stay?
In the first few weeks of March 2020, immunity-related internet searches tripled. Sales of supplements with well-known immunity credentials, things such as zinc and Echinacea, also jumped by as much as 255 per cent in some parts of the world. In May, one of Australia’s biggest vitamin brands, Blackmores, reported that vitamin C was flying off local shelves.
Teresa Cutter, founding director of The Healthy Chef Functional Food Range, says the brand’s Natural Immune Support product has attracted more attention than ever before this year. “Due to the increase in education around immune health, a lot of people have chosen to take extra steps to ensure greater immunity, including adding Natural Immune Support to their daily routine. That’s been so wonderful to see, particularly in the current climate.”
It’s a similar story for Hemp Oz Kombucha, an Australian-made hemp-based kombucha drink that’s packed with probiotics. They’re the healthy bacteria that research has linked to everything from lowering cholesterol levels to helping to prevent and treat gastrointestinal disorders, as well as – you guessed it – boosting the immune system.
“To be honest, sales have gone absolutely ballistic,” says Hemp Oz founder John Leith. “We experienced a huge surge in sales after I appeared on SBS’s Medicine or Myth with our kombucha last year, and then another after COVID.”
Still, even though the nation has had its interest in immunity justifiably peaked, the question has to be asked: will it last? For John and Teresa, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Here’s why.
Five Reasons Immunity is Here to Stay
1. Thinking about it has become second nature. “Like a lot of things we now do without thinking due to living with coronavirus, including carrying hand sanitiser, not shaking hands anymore and even wearing masks, I think doing what you can to look after your immunity has just become part of people’s lives now,” says John.
Teresa agrees: “If there’s one positive to come from 2020, it’s that people have become open to educating themselves about immune health and how improving their immunity impacts their overall well-being. With this knowledge, immune health is sure to stay present in everyone’s minds.”
2. Consumers understand the perks. While the potential benefits of supporting the immune system in the face of a pandemic are obvious, Teresa says people are starting to understand that healthy immunity extends far beyond that. “Immune health is something that’s vital to our well-being,” she says. “It impacts energy levels and sports recovery and, in many cases, poor immune health even shows through digestive problems and our skin.”
3. They know probiotics can help immunity. John believes that, while there’s no doubt probiotics were on many people’s radars prior to coronavirus, the connection they have to boosting immunity may not have been. “I think 2020 has really allowed people to dig into what works and what doesn’t when it comes to looking after our immune systems, and many more people now have an insight into, and a better understanding of, the role probiotics and good gut health can play.”
4. The science to back up the claims is available. Hemp Oz Kombucha doesn’t just claim to contain probiotics – the brand has worked with Western Sydney University researchers to prove it does. “Consumers are increasingly savvy,” says John, “and want to know that a product can actually do what it says it can do.” And the good news is that there are a growing number of science-based checks and measures that provide that reassurance. “When the research has been done, people can feel more confident than ever in buying a product to support their immune system. I think that means people will be more likely than ever to keep buying them.”
5. New products are always in the pipeline. Teresa says: “I’m sure we’ll see many more immunity-based products coming out as a result of the fact that people are now in the habit of maintaining their immune health. The list of possibilities is endless, which means the immunity trend is only likely to stick around and stay relevant.”
Hemp Oz is one company that’s ahead of that particular curve. “Long before coronavirus appeared, we began working on a range of Australian botanical teas, one of which is an immune-boosting tea,” says John. “Like all of our products, it’s been rigorously tested and is now ready to launch, something that’s happening in the very near future.”
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