Natural Grocers surveyed more than 70 of its nutrition experts and dug into the latest research to identify its expected top 10 breakout trends in nutrition and health in 2019.
In the report, author Shelby Miller, Natural Grocers’ manager of nutrition, research and education, pinpoints the most anticipated health, nutrition and food trends in the new year. Here are her predictions, edited for length:
1. Mitochondrial optimization will keep healthy fats in focus.
Mitochondria are our cells’ “power plants,” converting oxygen and food into the energy our bodies need to stay alive and thrive. When your mitochondria are dysfunctional, not only will your energy reserve decrease, resulting in fatigue and brain fog, but you also can become vulnerable to degenerative diseases like heart disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. The best way to support healthy mitochondria function is to eat more fat! Healthy fat, that is. Mitochondria function at their best when fueled by fat, not carbs. One tool to support mitochondria is the trending ketogenic diet. In 2019, expect to hear more about mitochondrial health and look to see brands embracing more high-fat focused and ketogenic products to support optimal mitochondrial function.
2. Collagen and bone broth are easier than ever.
Scoop by healthy scoop, collagen has gained mainstream interest over the past year as everyone adds it to their smoothies, matchas and lattes in the quest for glowing skin, healthy joints and gut healing. In 2019, as more collagen and bone broth products enter the market, so will convenient opportunities for consumers to take collagen on a daily basis. Supplement companies will continue to offer an array of collagen products, including collagen powders, gummies and drinks; marine collagen powders; and even vegan-friendly collagen precursors. Bone broth is one of the richest food sources of collagen, and it will continue its expansion into the mainstream as well.
3. Sorry sugar, we’re breaking up with you.
In 2019, consumers will continue to become aware of how much sugar is insidiously added to almost everything we eat. Look in your pantry and refrigerator and you’re likely to find the major culprits—ketchup, barbecue sauce, flavored yogurts, coffee creamers, chips, breads, cereals, spaghetti sauce, fruit juice, sports drinks and even bacon! This year, learn how to break up with sugar. Once you become a savvy monitor of added sugar, it will become easier to for you to avoid it and enjoy the health benefits you’re bound to experience.
4. The shroom boom.
In the last several years, the amount of scientific research published on mushrooms has exploded. Turns out, mushrooms hold the power to support the immune system, blood sugar balance, brain health, liver health, respiratory health, hormone balance and can even boost energy levels. In response to the growing mountain of research promoting the health benefits of mushrooms, the supplement, grocery and even body-care industries are introducing more ways to try out these fungal superheroes. We’ll continue to see the category grow, with more mushroom teas, tonics, broths and coffees making an appearance in 2019.
5. Nootropics + neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is the now proven principle that we can change the structure and function of our brains throughout our lives and that our thoughts, emotions and behavior are the primary means of doing that. Supplements help too. The discovery of neuroplasticity has led to the explosion of natural nootropics. Nootropics are substances that can be taken to improve mental performance in healthy people (one of the most well-known nootropics is the caffeine found in the beloved cup of morning coffee) and they are most often used to boost memory, focus, creativity, intelligence and motivation. Nootropics may also reduce age-related declines in brain function. Look for more brain-boosting formulas on the supplement shelves in the coming year.
6. Promoting the body’s ability to heal itself.
We will see companies meet the demands of consumers who want to swap their use of over-the-counter (OTC) meds and prescription drugs for natural remedies that support the body in healing. Instead of opening the medicine cabinet, people will use a combination of lifestyle choices, herbal remedies and vitamin supplementation to support the body in times of discomfort. Immune support remedies like mushrooms, elderberry, manuka honey throat sprays and natural zinc lozenges will dominate.
7. Green beauty boom.
A recent study revealed that the products we slather on our bodies daily, like shampoo and deodorant, can create plumes of petrochemical emissions. The researchers, who originally set out to record emissions around the city of Boulder, Colorado, discovered strange spikes in the data, especially during the morning commute, that weren’t coming from cars. Instead, the compounds were from personal care products that emit D5 siloxane, a chemical emollient found in certain body care products. Consumers are becoming more aware about the slew of chemicals that come from body care products. In 2019, expect companies to offer a wide variety of clean body care products with simple, natural ingredients that work!
8. Ingredient lists over nutrition facts.
We’ve likely all grappled with counting calories and grams of fat, but in 2019, a new paradigm is bound to free us from some of the struggles we’ve formed around food, nutrition and our everyday health. Nutrition labels will be demoted and instead, consumers will read and make food choices based on ingredient labels. The days of counting every single calorie are nearing an end. Rather than glorifying macronutrient logs and adhering to extremely strict dietary guidelines, 2019 will foster a friendlier relationship with food that focuses on simple, clean ingredients in products made with whole, real foods.
9. Lutein reigns supreme over blue light.
Blue light—from our smart phones, tablets, computers, TVs and even light bulbs—has become ever-present, and a growing body of research is showing that all of this blue-light exposure can damage the retina of the eye and can lead to age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Excessive blue light also disrupts the circadian rhythm. Enter lutein. Lutein preferentially accumulates in the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision, where it filters damaging blue light and increases macular pigment density. And because the health of the retina is directly related to how well our brains age, lutein also benefits the brain. In 2019, lutein will solidify its role as protector of the eyes and the brain.
10. Love your liver.
While it shouldn’t be “trendy” to have fatty liver disease, unfortunately the disease is trending. In 2018 we were shocked to learn that millennials are getting fatty liver disease faster than any other age group. According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 40 percent of U.S. adults have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Consumers will clean up their diets, ditching culprits like high fructose corn syrup and vegetable oils and will embrace “mocktails” to reduce alcohol consumption. We also predict an increase in sales of herbal supplements that support liver health, like milk thistle and berberine, as well as MCT oil, which has been shown to reduce fat in the liver.
Bonus Trend—Eating sustainably-raised meat and dairy will help combat climate change
Evidence is mounting that well-managed, pasture-based dairy and 100 percent grass-fed cows can prevent and potentially reverse climate change. One of the people most responsible for bringing these insights to life is Allan Savory, who developed holistic management. Savory observed that livestock, when managed correctly, are the key to a land-healing approach that has now been applied to millions of acres around the world. The natural grazing behaviors of ruminants contribute to promoting healthy soil that has the ability to sequester large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. Healthy soil also holds more moisture, which further contributes to the health of the ecosystems in which ruminants graze. In 2019, consumers will hear and learn more about managed grazing and how it contributes to rebuilding healthy soil that can sequester carbon dioxide, helping to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere, becoming a vital tool in our fight against global climate change.