How Food Trends Can Inform Your Meals
The beginning of the new year is always buzzing with conversations around health, food, and fitness. While most diet fads get a hard eye roll from nutrition experts, there are some optimistic trends and others that are intriguing enough for more convo. Here are 10 food and nutrition trends that’s catching our attention in 2020.
The rising trend towards plant-based eating has driven food companies, distributors, and restaurants to offer more plant-based options for health- and environmentally-conscious consumers. Different from vegan and vegetarian, plant-based eaters adopt a flexible diet approach that mostly consists of plant-derived foods and minimal, if any, animal-derived foods. Culinary innovators are elevating the plant food scene by revamping recipes and menus to please a variety of palates. The expanded options we have available today are helping people make a delicious and seamless shift toward healthier eating.
When it comes to sustainability in food, it’s about more than just eco-friendly packaging. There are industry-wide innovations that are reducing the impact of food production on the environment. At the same time, everyone from farmers to consumers are concerned about supporting the welfare of humans, animals, and the ecosystem. Some examples include sustainable seafood and regenerative agriculture for ecosystem health. Food companies are becoming more and more creative by creating delicious snacks, cereals, and even flours from upcycled fruit, vegetables, and grains. This movement in the food industry is on a mission to be one of the sustainable solutions for the health and well-being of the future that tastes great today.
3. Grain-Free Flours
Move over wheat, there are new flours mixing up the baking game! Shelves, bulk bins, snacks, and even your favorite baked goods are filled with a variety of grain-free flours made from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. We can bake with flours that include coconut, cauliflower, almond, and chickpea. This trend promotes nutritional diversity, adds fiber and protein from different plant food sources, and provides options for anyone with food allergies or intolerances.
Adaptogens are a category of medicinal herbs, roots, and mushrooms used in ancient traditions around the world. Adaptogens support a number of physiological processes in order to bring the body back to homeostasis (balance) and are used to help the body handle the effects of various stressors. The purported physiological benefits include reducing stress and anxiety, increasing energy, and boosting immunity.
While there are few long-term clinical studies, the past 10 years has seen an expansion of interest in adaptogens by the scientific community, which is accompanied by more research. Chances are you have seen popular adaptogens such ashwagandha, reishi, and ginseng on social media, in specialty health food stores and smoothie shops. And you will see more of them this year.
5. CBD-Infused Foods
The cannabis industry is definitely going through a growth spurt. The variety of products that have made their way onto market shelves and restaurant menus is at an all-time high. CBD, aka cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive, natural substance in the cannabis plant. Studies confirm its medicinal effects including reducing pain, decreasing anxiety, and improving insomnia. As more research is published on its safety and efficacy, we can anticipate a wider range of CBD-infused foods and beverages.
More people are realizing that it’s possible to enjoy an active social life without alcohol that’s also fun and delicious! The “no proof” space is growing among consumers seeking a wider variety of non-alcoholic drink options. Keep an eye out as more restaurants and bars offer a larger menu of creative non-alcoholic drinks featuring fresh-pressed juices, infused syrups, and specialty waters that are adorned with organic fruit, flowers, and herbs.
Collagen is a protein that is found throughout the body in connective tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, and skin—essentially everything that holds us together. Although people around the world have been making homemade bone broth for generations, these days we’re smitten with dietary collagen. Collagen consumers are looking for glowing skin, hair, and nails; pain-free joints; and natural remedies for gut health. These are only a few of the purported health benefits of collagen.
Despite a lack of scientific evidence and concerns over contamination of supplements, there’s massive anecdotal conviction that dietary collagen holds promise. As the curiosity for dietary collagen continues to grow, expect to see more of everything from bone broth to collagen supplements hitting the shelves this year. Also be on the lookout for vegan or plant-based supplements that allow for easy intake of some of the minerals and nutrients that are the building blocks for collagen production.
Found in notoriously healthy foods like salmon, blueberries, and green tea and coffee, nootropics are substances that are suggested to support brain function and enhance mental performance including memory, learning, focus, mood, concentration, processing, motivation, and attention. There is a good deal of research on the positive effects of some nootropics including omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, L-theanine and caffeine on brain health. Yet the body of research supporting the benefits of some of the other nootropic dietary supplements are limited.
Nevertheless, nootropics have made their way into beverages and foods like chocolate and honey, and appeal to the high-achiever who wants food that boost brain performance and support fast-paced lifestyles.
9. Eating for Gut Health
Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and yogurt are rich sources of probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that promote the integrity of the massive community of microorganisms that live in our digestive tracts–the community commonly known as the gut microbiome.
Taking care of the microbiome includes adding prebiotics to a daily diet. Prebiotics are the non-digestible fibers found in plant foods such as banana, onion, garlic, beans, and peas. Prebiotics feed the so-called good bacteria, improving the balance of our gut microbiome. Foods that support gut health are gaining popularity, as we learn more about the gut-brain axis and the important role diet plays in our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
10. The Anti-Diet Trend
The anti-diet movement has spread like wildfire across the health and wellness space. Unlike most trends that come and go, this one is sticking around. Breaking free of old ways of thinking, the anti-diet movement opposes deep-seated food rules and restrictions and weight-centric obsession of “diet culture.” The anti-diet, or non-diet approach is founded on principles of Intuitive Eating and behaviors that respect our bodies and promote health at every size. This powerful non-diet approach takes us out of a “diet culture” mindset and back into our own bodies where we, our greatest teachers, are in the driver’s seats of our own health and well-being.
Keep up with Food Trends that Work for You
Now that you’re up to speed with the latest trends in food and nutrition, hopefully everything from grocery shopping, eating out, and reading news headlines and social media feeds will seem less confusing and more interesting! Listen to the feedback from your body with everything that you eat. Seek out personalized advice from a trained dietitian nutritionist (RD/RDN) with expertise to fit your specific needs. Before starting any dietary supplement, confer with your primary healthcare provider or a trained dietitian nutritionist to be sure it’s safe and beneficial for you.
Jamie Mok, MS, RD, RYT is a Los Angeles-based dietitian, nutritionist, and yoga teacher who practices nutrition therapy at Memorial Care Long Beach Medical Center and teaches weekly yoga classes at Purple Yoga in Long Beach. In her “between time,” Jamie is on her yoga mat developing her personal practice, in the kitchen whipping up something fresh, and snapping photos for her Instagram feed @the_yogini_rd, and exploring the LA restaurant and food scene one bite at a time. Learn more on her website www.jamiemok.com