While we have a long way to go with our current (health) state of affairs, the wheels are in motion towards a healthier future. We can thank the persistent public health workers, health-promoting advocates and (with the utmost respect) the kale-eating, yoga-doing, Instagramming foodies. Consumers are becoming more interested and informed about what they are putting in their bodies. They want to know what is in their food, where it comes from, its nutritional benefits or if it has any negative health implications.
Without further ado, here are a few predictions for 2018, inspired by current trends and optimism:
1. Dietary preference
We are going to see more people favouring vegan, vegetarian, reducetarian, flexitarian or whole food diets. While some opt to go exclusively plant-based, others have a more flexible approach, choosing to reduce the amount of animal products in their diet. The good news is, eating more plant-based and whole (natural or minimally processed) foods has countless benefits, from boosting energy levels and the immune system to maintaining weight and protecting against chronic disease. Just remember, if you subscribe to a plant-heavy diet it is important you are getting adequate nutrients such as iron and protein from quality, non-meat sources, which leads me onto number 2…
We will be eating more pulses in 2018! Beans, peas, lentils and lupins are nutrient powerhouses, giving you a lot of bang for your buck, literally. Pulses are low in kilojoules, rich in a range of micronutrients such as zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium, and can bolster up any meal that is lacking protein, fibre or vegetables. Pulses are an easy and versatile ingredient to cook with, great in soups, salads, side dishes, purees and dips, or simply as a meat alternative.
3. Carb awareness
The rising awareness around carbohydrates isn’t going anywhere. Preference for minimally refined grains and faux grains will continue to grow. Faux grains (seeds and grasses) such as like quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat and wild rice can confidently replace grains in many foods. With their nutritional profile boasting a good dose of protein, vitamins and minerals with a lower GI, they are definitely worth exploring!
4. Healthy dining
Due to our ever increasing busy lifestyles, we are eating out, on the run and ordering in more than previous generations. Thankfully (and generally speaking), this doesn’t mean we are consuming more of the traditional fast foods, instead, we are seeking the healthier options. Cuisines such as Vegetarian, Mediterranean, Japanese, Korean, Middle Eastern, Moroccan and North African will continue to grow in popularity. Why? Because they feature plenty of fresh produce and rely on spices and herb to tantalise your tastebuds, with minimal added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats.
5. Food shopping convenience
Online grocery, meal planning and pre-made meal services are emerging from their infancy and will continue to be taken up by busy people. To be competitive in the market, the nutritional value of meals provided by these services is definitely a priority. This is a bonus for the busy consumer, who is not only seeking convenience but nutritious food also.
6. Fabulous fibre
A recent article called it- Fibre is the sexiest nutrient yet! Often overlooked and under-consumed, fibre is a bit of a hero. To name a few benefits, it helps to keep our gut nice and tidy, our blood glucose levels happy and our hunger cues in check. To obtain the recommended 25-30 g each day, eat plenty of whole food fruit, vegetables, pulses, grains, nuts and seeds. Therefore, if my first few predictions are correct, we will be consuming more of this sexy nutrient in 2018!
7. Microbiome health
This is definitely up there with the hottest research and interest topics. Perhaps it is fuelling the fermented foods and kombucha craze? It’s one to watch with interest, emerging research on what these bugs can tell us and do for us is absolutely fascinating!
There you have it, things are looking good in 2018. Use the new year as an opportunity to reset and make small steps to becoming a happier and healthier you!
By Jennifer Peters, ANutr
Public Health Nutritionist