Healthy eating never really goes out of style, but what constitutes healthy eating and the best foods to meet that goal evolves from year to year. What’s trendy changes based on people’s preferences as well as new research. Every year, sources such as Nutritional Outlook surveys the marketplace and predicts what health and nutrition trends will grow and which you might see less of. Will 2017 be another year of obsession with kale, bone broth, and detox teas? Let’s see what’s likely to be trendy.
Focus on Personalized Nutrition
We’re all a little different physiologically. We have varying genes, different body compositions, metabolisms, and food preferences. What works dietarily for one person isn’t necessarily optimal for someone else. That’s why personalized nutrition is the wave of the future and will likely grow in scope in 2017. This trend goes along with the movement towards monitoring health parameters like activity patterns, sleep, heart rate, blood pressure, and more. More of us want to be in control of our fitness and health and monitoring devices give constant feedback on how we’re doing.
What does personalized nutrition entail? For one, you could get genetically tested and, based on the results, get a customized nutrition plan that works with your genetic profile. The goal is to find genetic variations that can influence your weight and future health risks and use nutrition to deliver a favorable outcome. Not only can you base a diet around genetics but it can take into account factors like food preferences, foods allergies, food sensitivities, and activity level. What you end up with is a nutritional blueprint designed just for you.
Of course, genetic testing and custom diet design come at a cost. Not everyone will choose to pay the hefty price. If not, your best bet is to stick with whole, unprocessed foods, as they’re found in nature since these are foods that your body best recognizes.
Natural Ingredients in Sports Nutrition
Too often, sports bars and sports drinks deliver too much sugar and too many artificial ingredients. When Consumer Labs tested a variety of protein powders, they found a significant number were contaminated with heavy metals. Time for a clean-up? In 2017, expect to see more protein supplements with grass fed whey and that are free of hormones as well as more sports drinks and sports bars with less sugar and no artificial colorings or fillers. Exercise is an activity you do to preserve your health, why should sports nutrition undermine your goals? Of course, you can avoid sports drinks, bars, and shakes entirely and stick with whole food carb and protein sources. Not a bad idea!
Whether it’s concern about the treatment of factory-farmed animals, the environment, or health, consumers are turning more to plant-based foods, including plant-based sources of protein. Some studies show a link between diets high in animal protein, especially processed meat, and a greater risk of cancer and heart disease. Plus, research shows a plant-based diet may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Due to the growing demand for plant foods, new plant-based “meat” alternatives are entering the market at a rapid rate. Dairy, too, is meeting its match with the rapid rise of milk alternatives, including nut milks, rice milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, and more.
According to Food Business News, plant-based foods and beverages rack up close to 5 billion dollars in sales yearly and grew 3.5% over the past year. While the plant movement is positive for health, animals, and the environment, read the labels on packaged meat alternatives carefully. Some are highly processed and contain a long ingredient list. Don’t assume because something is plant-based that it’s automatically healthy. Even plants lose their health benefits if you over-process them. Don’t forget that nuts, lentils, beans, whole grains, and even some vegetables contain substantial quantities of protein and they’re whole foods. Eat a variety of plant protein sources to get all of the essential amino acids your body needs.
With the revelation that 70% of your immune system lies in your gut, it’s not surprising that digestive health is trending upward. Here, the emphasis is on promoting healthy gut bacteria through probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods. The gut is where absorption of macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals take place, so it’s the gateway to your cells. Digestive well-being is fundamental to good health. Keeping with the personalization theme, it’s important to identify food sensitivities that can jeopardize your digestive health. The best way to do this is to eliminate dietary components that may be causing symptoms for a few weeks and see if the symptoms improve. Some of the common dietary components people are sensitive to include gluten, FODMAPs, and dairy. Nuts, soy, and seafood allergies are also common.
Inflammation is the underlying driver of a variety of chronic health problems, including cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disease, and some types of cancer. Taming inflammation is fundamental to lowering your risk of these diseases. What you eat can fight or fuel inflammation. Some dietary changes you can make to reduce inflammation include:
- Eat fewer processed and packaged foods.
- Increase the amount of omega-3s in your diet.
- Use olive oil rather than other processed oils.
- Add nuts to your diet.
- Make dark chocolate and fruit your dessert. Cut back on sugar.
- Add anti-inflammatory spices like ginger and turmeric to your diet.
- Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
Lifestyle matters too. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, managing stress, and exercising without overtraining. Inflammation is a health destroyer – take steps to keep it in check.
The Bottom Line
Now you have a preview of what’s trending in the world of health and nutrition in 2017. Diet is one of the most important components of good health – but so is exercise. Make sure you’re doing both.