LIFE'S BETTER AT THE VILLAGE

Nutrition Trends for 2024: Pass or Play

By Jamie Miller, Village Health Clubs and Spas Dietitian

Diet culture constantly bombards us with new nutrition trends and opinions about food. And with the start of the new year, the push to try 2024 diets comes from all directions, promising to make you feel better, lose weight, renew your energy, and take years of aging off your body. It can be confusing to know which, if any, of these approaches are actually healthy or will actually yield results.

 

To help you out, Village dietitian Jamie Miller is sorting through the top “nutrition trends” of 2023 so you can focus your eating habits and become your healthiest self yet!

Climate Conscious (“Sustainable”) Diet

A climate-conscious or sustainable diet is very new to the food trend scene. It  focuses on becoming more aware of where our ingredients come from, prioritizes foods that are sustainably produced, and aims to reduce our carbon footprint from the food we consume. It often also supports small businesses that are responsible with their production methods to support the environment better. Sustainable seafood options protect essential ocean resources.

 

Sounds like an eco-friendly, responsible way to eat. But is it healthy? It most definitely can be! A climate-conscious diet typically includes larger amounts of fruits, vegetables, unprocessed grains, and low levels of processed foods. This in turn means more fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals than the standard American diet.

 

But just because something is “sustainable” doesn’t automatically mean it’s a healthy food.  For example, consider a processed soy based vegan burger. While it seems more sustainable as a swap from meat, this factory-made processed food can actually be more harmful to the planet than a grass-fed, locally raised beef burger – and might come loaded with inflammatory oils and refined ingredients. So, while eating in a climate conscious way, be sure to check labels and ensure you focus your diet on lean protein, plenty of fiber and heart healthy fats, while also placing value on its production methods.

Nutrition for the Gut

Research continues to prove that all health starts in the gut, from mental health, to immunity, skin health, and even a revved metabolism for weight loss. Therefore, the nutrition trends around food for gut health have steadily increased in recent years, with a major focus on probiotics, prebiotics, postbiotics, and synbiotics.

 

As such, it’s now common to see specialty beverages with added prebiotic fiber, or a bar that includes probiotics. All these would help support a varied and ample amount of good bacteria in your gut. But, there’s a simpler way to increase your prebiotic intake. If you eat at least five cups of fresh produce a day and ensure your carbohydrate sources are high in fiber (e.g. in beans, whole grains, and starchy vegetables), you’ll boost your gut health. Probiotics can come from fermented foods such as yogurt with live and active cultures, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and kombucha as well.

 

So, should you eat for gut health? Yes, your whole body will benefit. Aim to eat a nourishing diet full of plant-based ingredients and fermented foods, and consider using a supplement to help your gut thrive for total health.

Mood-Boosting Foods

As a result of the recent mental health crisis in our nation, a new diet trend of a “mood- boosting diet.” This trend focuses on how food can influence cognitive capacity, decrease stress, and optimize brain function. The base of the diet includes foods that help fight inflammation, support stress levels, and improve feel-good hormones.

 

 A mood-boosting diet would include ample healthy fats, amino acids, and micronutrients such as B-vitamins and magnesium by eating things like salmon, sardines, avocado, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts, and leafy greens. Specialty ingredients of herbs and mushrooms, called nootropics and adaptogens, are on the rise as well as a part of this nutrition trend, toting to improve mental clarity and help the body deal with stress and anxiety. For example, some protein bars may include ashwagandha, which is an adaptogen that can help the body with stress. Or, functional coffee will include mushrooms like lion’s mane and chaga to improve mental focus and increase energy even further than the regular caffeine boost from coffee.

 

Is this way of eating worth a try? A nourishing diet full of superfoods could only bring benefits to the body as a whole. However, don’t just add a mushroom supplement or adaptogenic food to your day and skip the foundations of a healthy diet. True mental and cognitive health will be supported by a variety of factors in an individual’s life and a balanced eating pattern.

 

Alcohol-Free Diet

In the last few years. It’s becoming more and more common to hear adults say that they no longer drink alcohol and as a result, they never have felt better. While before it was common to take part in a “Dry January” after a holiday season of indulging, people now continue with abstinence from  alcoholic beverages. And the market has taken notice.

 

Between 2022 and 2026, the no-alcohol beverage market (such as non-alcoholic beers) is expected to increase in volume by 25%. What is the motivation to abstain from alcohol consumption? In a study by University of Sussex, after pausing alcohol for just one month, 71% of individuals reported sleeping better, 67% felt more energy, 58% lost weight, and 54% saw improved skin. Deeper studies also showed that in just one month of no alcohol, individuals had a significant decrease in insulin resistance, blood pressure, and even in chemical messengers connected to cancer growth. Overall, adopting the trending health habit of an alcohol-free diet can do great things for your health.

 

 

Interested in learning more about how to support your total health and get to your goals, relying on real nutrition rather than 2024 diets? Reach out to Village dietitian, Jamie Miller, to learn how to work together. E:jamiller@dmbclubs.cim P:7134942030

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