A Magazine About Food, Art & Exchange In Midtown Kingston, Published By The Hudson Valley Current.

Healthy Living Trends for 2018

Fads Come and Go While Trends Stick Around

By Jennifer Brizzi

    What would our great-grandparents have thought about our willingly consuming billions of bacteria in our beverages and candy bars? The probiotic boom is just one of many trends that promise to get even bigger in the public eye in 2018.

    Trends are not the same as fads, which are short-lived. Trends are of longer duration, but because they begin with a similar buzz, it can be hard to tell them apart, and I don’t claim to be an expert on that. Sometimes things that appear to be earth-changing trends fade into nothingness, never to be seen again. Some never truly go away completely, like carob or jogging.

    Following are some burgeoning—er, items of popular interest—in the health and lifestyle realm that seem to be moving into our radar fields and may stay a while.

    For one, I sense a collective high anxiety level lately among quite a few people I know, due to current political issues. Folks are fervently seeking out new or better ways to deal with it.  Some trends on the horizon—that aren’t new but being newly discovered en masse—may be in part a result of that needed mental self-soothing. One is meditation, with the buzzwords mindfulness and breathwork on many lips.  Other healthful activities that are getting a new life in the current climate include an interest in reconnecting with the outdoors, and an urge to connect with others IRL (“in real life”). Studies are emerging that show that all that modern social media time not only is a poor substitute for in-person meetings but is terrible for your health, not to mention for independent thought. So in 2018  we may be trying to get away from the grip of our cell phones.

    Sleep is big and getting bigger. We used to think that geniuses thrived on four or five hours of sleep but now we’re learning that sleep deprivation can cause a host of physical and mental problems, from depression to weight gain to paranoia. So we’re downloading apps, reducing bedtime screen time and working on improving our quantity and quality sleep.

    Another growing trend is DNA testing. Although most of us who have it done merely want to know of what stuff we’re made, many companies that do the testing claim to offer health advice tailored to your genetic data as well.

Don’t Forget The Nutritional Side

    Some trends are emerging on the nutrition front, too. Although some of us are still fasting and cleansing, the popularity of juice detoxes is waning. Smoothies will stay big, though, as people want to keep the fiber that juices screen out. Just throw some of those pricey magic powders du jour—like maca, cacao or spirulina—into your smoothie and you’ll be a super-powered person.

    New low-sugar drinks are coming out, flavored with ginger or flowers like lavender or rose.  Dairy milk-alternatives have evolved from just soy milk or almond milk to a host of others from cashew milk to hemp milk to many more coming on the scene all the time.

    Kombucha—that probiotic-laden fizzy sour drink—is hot, literally, as we see teas with heat-resistant strains. From a drink that no one had ever heard of a few years ago, kombucha concoctions of all kinds are now easy to find.

    In fact, fermented foods are everywhere now, as people learn about the immune-boosting, brain-strengthening qualities of good bacteria and a healthy microbiome.  Kimchi used to be a Korean specialty item, based on fermented Napa cabbage; now everyone’s making it. Hawthorne Valley, a bio-dynamic farm in Columbia County. sells a heavenly vegan, organic, gently spicy version (many kimchis contain fish). Lots of new kimchis are on the market, along with many other fermented veggies from sauerkraut to pickled beets, that serve as zesty condiment or daily forkful of good health.

    Other nutrition trends too numerous to list include hemp-everything, crispy air-puffed snacks based on vegetables, root-to-stem cooking (like frugal nose-to-tail but with veggies and fruits), and grain-free living (fine for carnivores like cats but I hope this is fad rather than trend, as grains are good for most of us).

    Fat is our friend, we’re learning, in moderation of course, especially the right types like unrefined, non-GMO and so on. But instead of just coconut oil we’re now learning to mix it up a bit with single-country extra virgin olive oils, luscious avocado oil and other healthy oils.

Transparency Is The New Goal

    Food consumers are looking for more transparency in labeling beyond mandated nutrition information. We want to know the fair trade status, if it’s non-GMO or humanely-raised. Expert Marion Nestle says that by law all menus will have to show calorie counts in May, something that was delayed by the FDA from 2010-2017 and since then by the Trump administration.

    We’re also expanding our focus outwards, beyond personal wellness to the wellness of the planet, with concerns and action regarding impending climate changes following suit. Who can predict how that one will evolve?