The pandemic has completely thrown us off the track. In some way or the other, our health has gone for a toss either it is by way of lack of exercise, or the inability to follow a healthy lifestyle due to various restrictions. Quarantining us to our homes has not only tossed our diet patterns out of the window but also made us stressed, angry, paranoid, irritated, frustrated, and a host of other emotions. Whereas on the one hand even if it has stalled our plans to lead a healthy lifestyle it has however resulted in a breakthrough in the field of medical science and nutrition on the other.
We can only hope to have a better 2021 and simply forget about what transpired in the year that has gone by. So, I thought to myself, what is it that we can look forward to this year? What can I share with you at the very beginning of the year that can give you an insight into what to hope for this New Year and the near future? This thought propelled me to delve deeper into research how the trends are shaping up in the field of nutrition.
So sit back, with your cuppa, and take a look at these 10 cool trends that emerged, ‘coz this just might be one of the most important posts that you might read this year.
1. ‘Immunity-building’ will rule like a boss!
No points for guessing this! But the immediate focus in the post-pandemic year, anything that builds immunity will sell like hotcakes. Any food that aids immunity will fly off the shelves of supermarkets and food that will destroy immunity shall take a nosedive. We saw huge interest in such immunity building foods peaking in the midst of the pandemic and saw a surge in various immunity-building hacks too. This trend shall continue well into 2021 and there would be renewed interest in Vitamin A, C & D, and foods containing zinc that boost immunity levels.
Watch out for companies that will suddenly start to label their packaged products with ‘immunity-building’ slogans.
2. ‘Anti-’ will become the new Pro
Anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-arthritic, anti-rheumatic, anti-oxidant, anti-flatulence and anti-ageing, will be terms that you will see being thrown around a lot this year. These are mostly obtained from the consumption of spices and condiments which frankly speaking no one’s even bothered about up until now. When there are solid veggies, proteins, and carbs to think about than who is worried about masalas!
However, with time, the awareness of these has increased and companies are now focusing more on quality rather than price. But honestly, while the rest of the world may scramble to find their daily dose of spices, we Indians are very well placed and if I might say, safe in this regard. Indian foods are cooked with spices and condiments, hence a home-cooked meal forms the perfect source for obtaining all the ‘anti-’ stuff. Already there is a spurt in demand for cinnamon, mustard, turmeric, garlic, coriander, et al and this trend is expected to continue.
Watch out for companies who will begin adding these spices & condiments to their existing range of products to capitalize on the demand and watch out as achaar (or pickle) sales surge.
3. Adaptogens will be the underdogs
If not anything else this pandemic has only added to our stress and we see an exponential J-curve in the number of people being diagnosed with different forms of mental stress, depression, anxiety issues et al. Adaptogens will be like the underdogs in a marathon, who clandestinely overtake others right in the final lap. Though this is one of my active areas of interest in diet & nutrition and I am still researching this, I’ll try to simply spell out what my understanding of this is as of now.
When we encounter stress, our body releases a hormone called Cortisol, which is the body’s response to stress and that’s normal. The cortisol is responsible for our ability to fight that stress. Under normal circumstances, the release of cortisol is good however repeated release is bad as frequency causes the body to become insensitive. Since we are experiencing continued stress levels, this cortisol can result in hormonal imbalances and interfere in lead body mass development. Found in our very own ashwagandha, turmeric, and tulsi, or basil, these adaptogens are key in the fight against stress.
Watch out for companies that will creatively launch new variants of supplements with added adaptogens.
4. Are you a Climatarian?
You heard it right! No, I am not talking about a climatologist, i.e. who researches, studies, and forecasts climate patterns, but I am talking about you being a climatarian. Let’s face the fact. There is obviously another long-term and in fact, a deeper crisis blatantly staring at us, a world-wide crisis i.e. climate change. Increasingly, people are becoming aware of this reality with an unexpected increase in the number of hurricanes, storms, wildfires, pressure-system shifts, and weather shifts reported worldwide. We do see these and worry about these as they directly impact us but there are other subtle events occurring, which are the prime indicators of a disruption of ecological balance on the planet like - only ten-percent of the beautiful coral reefs are left in the world; the disappearance of the Arctic ice sheets; and the more recent breaking off of a 110 sq. km ice-shelf in Greenland.
As people see what’s happening in front of their eyes, more and more are now joining-in on this debate that’s silently raging, either directly by way of activism or thinking of new ways to contribute.
Consumer research shows that while personal health will be the major driver, but there will be a push by consumers to shift to climate-friendly foods due to environmental reasons. There will be a shift from the chemical-intensive to chemical-free. You will see a shift from climate-destructive foods to foods that will contribute to biodiversity, soil health and enrich ecosystems. Climate-consciousness will rightly grow and climatarian will soon become the new buzzword in town as we start to feel more responsible for our current ecological predicament.
‘I am a climatarian’ might become the new hashtag. Climatarians might just become the cool dudes, like the ones wearing the cool shades and walking around with swelled chests.
You can also contribute here! In order to align with this ideology, if you aren’t already, you can increase the intake of fresh-, home-grown or organic fruits and veggies to promote better health, better community health and better health for Mother Earth.
Watch out for regenerative/pasture-based meat and dairy farming products also in the slightly long-term view. (But I will leave this for another article!)
5. Rise of Postbiotics – Do you have the guts!
Did an image of ‘Yakult’ drink pop up in your mind, as you read this heading? Before you scramble for your mobile, to go online and order it from Amazon or HealthKart, let me remind you that, that is a probiotic drink (at least that’s what it is marketed as!) however, the rising trend that I am talking about here is on ‘postbiotics’. Having said that, yes, there is the linkage between the two, a direct link. In fact, there are three similar-sounding and equally-perplexing terminologies that you will see come into play whenever someone discusses gut health – prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics.
More than 15000 studies have been conducted in the last five years and researches by-and-large show that almost 90% of the diseases can be traced back to the ‘gut health’ in some way or the other. Though prebiotics and postbiotics have been around for a decade now, there is a strong thrust on postbiotics studies as well, as they are believed to be having anti-inflammatory, immunity-boosting and improving gut health properties.
In a nutshell, prebiotics, obtained from the consumption of certain foods, act as food for the ‘good bacteria’ i.e. probiotics. This process of fermentation results in a byproduct called postbiotics. So as the focus on postbiotics grows this would have growth in consumption of prebiotic-rich and postbiotic-rich foods as well. However, just like prebiotics (found in apples, bananas, green veggies, and whole grains) and probiotics (found in supplements and some foods like yogurt), postbiotics can also be obtained from external foods like yogurt, buttermilk, and even in pickles.
“So put that homemade aam-ka-achaar (or mango pickle) back on your plate instead of fretting over how much oil it contains!”
Living under COVID19 has been more living under the Damocles’ sword hanging over our necks. But there is little doubt that it has shaken us up. As I had written earlier in an article Coromorphosis: The Emergence of a New Order we are going to be pushed back to basics and on a more ideological-level, certain broader ‘ABCD’ trends are emerging, obviously for the better.
6. A for Affordability, shall become the norm
The lockdown began with a bang at home with people who never cooked took to the kitchen to learn and explore cooking. Those who did cook explored new and innovative recipes. But what was common to both these peoples was that they vociferously took to their mobile phones to showcase their newfound talents and skills. But as months passed and the pandemic raged people eventually realized that this new norm is here to stay for quite some time now and this novelty cooking factor subsided. 2021 will witness a continued interest by people in food however they will now fend for affordability. They will look for ways to cook up or order meals that are affordable. They will fend for ways to avoid intense prep work and hunt for ways to simplify or ease meal planning.
7. B for Basics, we will be pushed back to!
The pandemic has forced us to realize that sticking to basics was better off making us feel a tad bit regretful to have gotten off-track on maintaining and promoting good health. But in 2021 we will see thrust in improving health and fine-tuning even more. People will make time for exercise, ensure that they get good sleep, clean up their diets and recognize and internalize the phrase ‘healthy lifestyle’. This would make people more mindful of what they are consuming and more sensitive towards what is written on that product label resulting in more careful purchases.
8. C for Customization, the need of the hour
Going by the snail-pace at which the vaccination drive is underway as of now, there still may be apprehension in the air for most of us to still venture out going to gyms or fitness centers. In lieu of this people will work towards customization of their exercise routines and diet plans. Grab-and-go foods will be shunned, and the immediate future will see an increased focus in pairing wholesome foods, incorporating supplements, perfecting our in-house exercise routines to complement our new-norm lifestyles.
9. D for De-stressing, shall be our modus operandi
2020 has been stress-y. De-stress will become the order in 2021. This is in direct correlation with the focus on adaptogens as I mentioned in trend #3. People would investigate more into ways to cope with their daily stress not only by incorporating foods and supplements to safeguard their own health but also by being more empathic towards others, more understanding towards others, engaging in more meaningful conversations with others, and exhibiting more kindness towards others.
I conclude this long one, mentioning the 10th trend, not so much as a trend, but more of an emotion that will be predominant at the back of our heads, specifically during the year 2021. That will be the feeling of nostalgia. People will continue to reminisce about how things were pre-COVID. People will continue to be nostalgic about our weights pre-COVID. People will continue to recollect how things were on their social front pre-COVID. People will be craving for anything that connects them to life before the lockdown. Though for some this might have changed things permanently, most will continue to hope for the return of the pre-pandemic days.