Health trends are unavoidable. You’re going to hear about the benefits of this, that, and the other thing every few years. What was trendy a few years ago, might not be today; likewise, the trends of today could be gone tomorrow.
In my opinion, health trends are little more than that—trends. Right now, for example, we’re in the gluten-free era. But the reality is that the only people who should be avoiding gluten are those with celiac disease. In fact, the same doctor who came up with the term “gluten sensitivity” has corrected himself, saying gluten is not the compound that creates problems for people. But the marketers cashing in on the “gluten-free” wave don’t want you to hear that. Some companies are even advertising foods that never contained gluten, like fruit, as “gluten-free.”
“Organic” is also a hot word these days, too. Yes, it does offer some peace of mind knowing food hasn’t been subjected to pesticides, but the reality is that there is no additional nutritional value to eating organic. Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for labeling something “organic” might be deceiving. A product labeled “made with organic ingredients” only needs to feature 70% certified organic ingredients—that means nearly a third of the product may contain those pesticides you’re trying to avoid. There are also three different designations for organic-labeled products—and they don’t all mean the same thing in the end.
But what’s on the horizon? What’s next in the food trend world and is there any validity to the claims?
One of the big ones I’ve noticed is ancient grains. These grains have basically stepped in place of your old friend quinoa, which was the star on the scene a couple short years ago. Ancient grains are things like:
As you can likely tell by the name, ancient grains have been around for centuries and have proven health benefits. Most of them are high in fiber and might be able to prevent some forms of cancer, cardiovascular problems, and high blood pressure. In my opinion, ancient grains are a good bet.
A word of caution, though: Try to buy them from your local bulk store, so you’re getting the real thing. If not, please read labels. If they are part of a recipe that contains a bunch of sugar or other unhealthy ingredients, they effectively lose the benefit of a health food!
We’re also very much in a “less is more” trend, which I ultimately agree with. However, it’s up to you to be a smart consumer and be wary of products marketed as “all natural.” For example, a cola using stevia in place of an artificial sweetener isn’t exactly a health product even if it does use a natural sweetener.
There also isn’t really much clarification on what it means to be “all natural;” at this time, using the phrase is unregulated. Therefore, it’s on you to exercise caution and read labels.
When it comes to nutrition, I like to keep it pretty simple. Eating a healthy diet, in my opinion, means getting a good macronutrient split of lean protein, healthy carbohydrates, and good-for-you fats. You want to make sure your diet is low in sugar, high in fiber, and includes lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and lean sources of protein. This stuff never goes out of style and is the cornerstone of a healthy diet and a healthy life.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Biesiekierski, J.R., et al., “No Effects of Gluten in Patients With Self-Reported Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity After Dietary Reduction of Fermentable, Poorly Absorbed, Short-Chain Carbohydrates,” Gastroenterology August 2013; 145(2): 320–328.e3.
Brandt, M., “Little evidence of health benefits from organic foods, study finds,” Stanford Medicine News Center web site, September 3, 2012; http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2012/09/little-evidence-of-health-benefits-from-organic-foods-study-finds.html, last accessed October 29, 2014.
Consumers Union of United States Inc., “Ancient grains can help prevent cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure,” The Washington Post, August 13, 2012; http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/ancient-grains-can-help-prevent-cancer-heart-disease-and-high-blood-pressure/2012/08/10/5a1d9438-b631-11e1-9e4c-5a6a137d65e1_story.html, last accessed October 29, 2014.
“Labeling Organic Products,” United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Services web site; http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELDEV3004446, last accessed October 29, 2014.
Gans, K., “3 Hot Nutrition Trends: Healthy or Gimmicky?” U.S. News web site, October 23, 2014; http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2014/10/23/3-hot-nutrition-trends-healthy-or-gimmicky.