Natural Grocers has tapped its nutrition experts, category managers and others to identify what it believes will be the breakout trends in nutrition and health in 2018.
The author of the list, Jon Clinthorne, PhD, Natural Grocers’ manager of scientific affairs and nutrition education, breaks down why these trends will gain ground in the New Year:
Collagen is in.
Is there anything collagen can’t do? The popularity and selection of nutrient-dense and “superfood” collagen has exploded over the past year, and for good reason. Collagen supplements are rich sources of two amino acids that are important for health, but not typically found in high concentrations in modern diets. One of these amino acids, proline, has been shown to be crucial for joint health and also helps support smooth and supple skin (yes, please!) by strengthening the collagen that keeps our skin firm. Glycine, the other major amino acid in collagen supplements, has been shown to modulate inflammation in the digestive tract, participate in detoxification and liver health, and also helps support healthy, restful sleep.
Everyday detox diets.
Instead of trying unhealthy fasts and juice diets for detoxification, consumers are more interested in what foods they can eat that will help facilitate the body’s natural detox processes. While labels make it easier to avoid foods with GMO (genetically modified organisms) ingredients, there still isn’t a standard label for everyday toxins. Chemical toxins can be found in our food, drinking water, air and even the soil. We recommend looking for foods that contain plenty of sulfur as well as other detoxification supportive vitamins and minerals such as vitamins C and E, selenium and zinc.
Organic is the way to go.
American consumers are still confused about which is better—the USDA Organic label or the Non-GMO Project Verified label. But hands down, the USDA Organic label wins. Why? Not only does a “Certified Organic” label mean that an item is naturally GMO-free, it also means that the contents are 95 percent or more organic, free from chemical dyes, grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers and must not be processed using industrial solvents, or irradiation. Additionally, studies show organically grown food is higher in nutrients and lower in heavy metals. As more people realize how synthetic pesticides and nutrition impact their health, they are looking for more nutritious, higher quality and healthier food. The USDA Organic label ensures that the food you choose meets the highest standards possible, and the research coming out on organic agriculture also indicates organics are better for the environment, human health and the economy.
Pasture-raised is raising the bar.
Healthy land management begins with properly managing the animals on that land. Rotating animals through pasturelands can dramatically improve the health of the soil, trapping carbon dioxide in the soil (where it belongs), helping with water retention and reducing erosion. As an added benefit, having animals on pasture also results in animal products that are more nutrient dense. Go with grass-fed beef and dairy, and pasture-raised eggs and even turkey to join the movement.
Black seed oil.
Black seed oil (also called Nigella sativa, black coriander oil, or simply black oil) is very popular in various traditional systems of medicine, like Ayurveda. The seed and its oil have a surprising amount of research showing their effectiveness in various health conditions. Research suggests black seed oil helps insulin function and also keeps the insulin-producing pancreas working at a healthy level. Other studies show that by modulating inflammation, thymoquinone (the active component of black seed oil) helps build strong and healthy bones.
Shortened from ketogenic diets, “keto” diets are making their mark on the nutrition world. It’s common to think that the body (and more importantly, the brain) relies solely on glucose and fatty acids for energy. However, there’s another type of fuel made from fatty acids, known as ketones—which are especially important for neuroprotection and also have been shown to support brain function and cognition. Research shows that medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are easily converted into ketones by the liver, meaning foods that contain coconut oil, palm oil, cheese and butter could all contribute to ketone production in the body—and why demand for these ingredients is high. Diets, like the keto diet, that are high in fat and low in carbohydrate also result in enhanced ketone production.
Traditional medicine meets modern science.
Whether you’re studying the health benefits of garlic or trying a turmeric latte, reference the traditional medicinal uses of plants. Did you know that the Egyptians, Greeks and Arabs all used aromatherapy as a medicinal tool? And now, modern research is exploring the use of essential oils and aromatherapy for relaxation and other aspects of mental health. The resurgence in popularity of herbal medicine and products is likely related to the hard science that exists which backs up the traditional uses of these valuable plants.
Similar to kombucha, drinking vinegars are a trendy new alternative to sugar-laden sodas and juices. Most of these are made with apple cider vinegar—what we refer to as a health powerhouse—and other health-promoting ingredients that make them a tasty, tangy and trendy way to balance blood sugar. A study published in the Diabetes Care journal demonstrated that consuming vinegar at bedtime can actually support healthy blood sugar levels when you wake up, so this would be a great post-dinner beverage. Vinegar can also help facilitate the absorption of vitamins and minerals from food as well as help you feel full longer.
Sneaking in vegetables.
Americans have a hard time eating enough vegetables, and many people acknowledge this problem and seriously want to increase their vegetable consumption. The trendy solution? Sneaking antioxidant-rich vegetables into your food whenever possible. Swap out typical noodles for organic veggie noodles, snack on real veggie chips and add frozen cauliflower or greens powders to your smoothies.
Botanicals to boost brain function.
Botanicals, such as epigallocatechin from green tea for boosting brain function, are gaining more appreciation. More formulas built for clarity and mood are showing up on the market, and some of the best new botanicals for brain health include herbs and mushrooms. Look for formulas containing ashwaganda, lions mane, reishi, gotu kola, turmeric and holy basil in order to capitalize on the latest research.