What’s Trending in Health and Nutrition: A New Wine Bottle?

It’s the middle of 2023 and I read all the posts on the first few pages of google search results, about “what’s trending in health and nutrition”. Here is what it is. Some are sure to catch up a frenzy, once your favorite food and fitness influencer propagates these trends on social media. While some trends are already a work in progress.

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Fortification Of Food

Have you heard this “pinch the baby and rock the cradle”? Fortification is like rocking the cradle While the global population cries for nutrient rich food.

Relentless use of chemical based fertilizers have rendered the soil void by killing all the dirt inhabitants like earthworms and soil microbiome that are essential for plant health. The leftover dirt is further abused with commercial crops and hybridization.

The result? tasteless fruits and vegetables with nutrient density less than half of what it used to be a century ago.

The lack of nutrients justify the need to fortify products with the missing vitamins and minerals. Dairy products, flour and cooking oils fortified with vitamins are common sights.

Common micronutrients added to foods are iron, iodine, vitamin A, and vitamin D. The chances of fortifying everything under the sun is a possibility in the near future.  It’s as good as indirectly feeding supplements to the population. And guess who pays for the added vitamins?

If anything, scientific methods of farming for profit have made our food hard to digest, both literally and metaphorically.

Gut Health

Fermentation is nature’s way of feeding humans GFF (Gut Friendly Food). It’s as old as homosapiens.

To call gut health a trend is an indication of the lack of awareness about food, specifically among the younger population. This is proof that western education system is a failure and capitalism ignores common sense.

Sun dried fruits, vegetables and meat. Pickles, sauerkraut and curd. These are age old practices for preserving food that took care of digestion and gut health. In a way, natural methods of preservation also served as food security during bad weather.

What comes to your mind when you hear Gut health? Fiber and probiotics?
And where did you hear that from? The advertisements.

The Food industry picks up on certain enticing words and uses them to push their products. People fall for it. Probiotic drinks and fiber rich superfoods are a craze.

Gut health is not a trend, it’s essential for wellness and we have been doing it all along, ask your grandma. It is encouraging to learn that many are turning to traditional methods and plant based food is getting due attention.

Plant-Based Diets

For all practical purposes, diets were heavy on plants and they still are. After all, it’s easier to forage fruits and vegetables in the wild than to hunt a mammoth? The question is, how soon we choose to seek life, away from the ice capped mountains.

Plant-based is the right approach for a sustainable diet. For starters the word plant applies to everything that grows under the sun. Thereby giving one plenty of choice and not restricting to narrow selection of food with fancy names.

Before the industrial revolution, our food used to be plant based, grown locally and in-season produce. People had a stronger connection to the source of their food. Food was both nutritious, sustainable and suitable for the population for that particular geographical location.

Plants can provide all the essential nutrients for a healthy body. Protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. One may argue the quality or quantity of plant protein, but that’s a valid  argument if you are participating in the world bodybuilding championship.

For the rest of us normal beings, plants provide plenty. A radical diet shift from meat to plant cannot happen sooner.

Intermittent Fasting

Fasting is an age-old concept which is deeply integrated within religious beliefs.

Oblivious to the science behind fasting, many cultural societies have been practicing it as a means to purify the body and mind, as a means of self discipline and to spiritually connect with the divine. 

Intermittent fasting is taking long breaks in between meals for example 8 hours, 12 or 16 hours. This is popular especially with millennials who are health conscious.

This eating pattern has gained popularity for potential benefits such as weight management, improved insulin sensitivity, and autophagy (cellular repair process).

Although helpful, intermittent fasting is not for all. It takes time and practice to endure fasting. Unless you do it right, it’s better to stick to a healthy schedule.

Mindful Eating

Mindful eating in simple words is “shut up and eat”, except, you are shutting off your mind from all the distractive thoughts. It’s about paying attention to what you’re eating, and taking hunger and fullness cues from your body.

“No talking while eating”, something I used to hear from my grandma throughout my childhood. Little did I realize she was preaching mindful eating. I suppose it was easy then, thanks to the absence of information. All we had to do was to pause our imaginations and savor the meals.

Have you heard this adage “eat your water and drink your food”?

Meaning you have chewed your food so much that your mouth is filled and you could drink what you chewed. The idea is to eat slowly and chew fully. Not only does this help in better digestion but also you savor the food and connect with it. Not to forget, the chances of choking is greatly reduced.

Eating is a personal wellness ritual, don’t let a stranger invade your privacy and tell you how to eat.

Personalized Nutrition

Food and Health care industries never get tired of filling new bottles with old wine.

Personalized nutrition involves the help of dieticians and nutritionists, tailoring diets and nutritional recommendations based on individual genetic makeup, microbiome composition, and lifestyle factors.

Our dependance on medical care for every ailment is unsustainable. Meaning, should you seek medical help, you will be spending on tests like genetic makeup and microbiome composition which are unnecessary medical interventions.

I hope these are limited to rare cases and the population with normal health are left alone.

We have full control over lifestyle factors but, often we fail to put in the right actions.
For the majority of the population, jumping on to a healthy diet is only a matter of a mindset change.

Concepts like personalized nutrition and digital nutrition therapy that uses apps and technologies are marketing gimmicks to make money on people’s desire for quick and easy solutions.

Health and Nutrition Trends That Are Going to Catch Up

Seeking healthy food options to improve health is the need of the hour. And an option to save time in cooking healthy food is much desirable.

As such alternatives like natural sugar, alcohol free drinks and infusion beverages are here to stay. While convenient pre-prepared meals and home-cooked meals are gaining traction.

This is a step backward for sustaining health. Cloud kitchens and local community kitchens can make this possible. Local and in-season sourced produce not only supports local farming but also brings better health.

Want Wellness?
Ignore These Trends in Health and Nutrition.

Wellness influencers

Influencers promote diets, supplements and fitness wares for a living. They often show you “What I Eat In a Day” videos and “what I do in a day” contents. Irrespective of whether that’s true or not, somebody else’s nutrition and workout is not going to work for you.

Wellness travel

If you were traveling for leisure or pleasure, do not confuse it with wellness travel, because they are “totally different”. Wellness travel is wellness travel, book your tickets now!

Fitness wearables & Apps

Wearables & Apps are going to trend for a few years. People will be trying out these gadgets embedded with Artificial intelligence and augmented reality to enhance their fitness experience.

But, this gadget fad will be short lived, remember smart glasses?. 

Don’t put faith in these electronic devices. They are not reliable, since the chances for error is very high. Also these gadgets are not regulated, each device may show different results. Not to forget calibration issues that are common in such devices.

Fitness wearables are accessories and not medically approved devices. 

Once you have played with them enough, throw it away.

Gummies: Reinventing the pill 

The demand for gummies, a supplement in the form of candy, is catching up fast. People who are averse to pills might end up trying these gummies and may stick to them, similar to the protein bars laced with sugar.

Supplements in the form of gummies are a concern because of the risk of overeating them.

Conclusion

Fortifying food is taxing consumers with vitamins and making them pay.

Increasing awareness of gut health is a positive sign for wellness. Diet options like plant based foods and minimal intake of meat protein is conducive to health and environment in the long run. The importance of local, in-season food options need to be incentivised and promoted further.

The resurgence of age old concepts like fasting and mindful eating builds a good relationship with food and promotes wellness.

Quick fixes and one size fits all approach doesn’t work and neither does hopping from diet to diet in the hope of fixing one’s health. 

Money spent on fad diets and fad equipment can be better used to buy good food.

A radical mindset change needs to happen, which is in the form of accepting facts and listening to your body. This is the sure path to wellness.

I will leave you with these thoughts on health and nutrition. Thanks for spending time with me.
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2 Comments

  1. kallan krishnaraj
    3 August 2023
    Reply

    Vimal ji, your article is very informative. Thanks.

    • 3 August 2023
      Reply

      Thank you very much Krishnaraj. I am glad it was useful.
      appreciate you taking time to read. Take care sir.

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