Food and health trends we’ll see in 2022
After a whirlwind two years of COVID craziness, maintaining good health has never been more front of mind. So what food and health trends can we expect to see come 2022? Experts from natural health education provider Endeavour College predict that a return to nature, a greater focus on the environment and new ways to combat physical and mental stress are all set to shape the future of health and wellness.
A new plant-based protein will knock almond off its “mylk” pedestal. Probiotics will appear in everything from coffee to ice cubes. There’ll also be a shift from counting calories to counting carbon emissions. We can even expect to see beer supplements. Cheers!
Endeavour College nutrition lecturer Sophie Scott, who is also a clinical nutritionist and environmental scientist, says many future food and health trends will revolve around the environment. This change is inevitable as we increasingly become more climate conscious.
Move over oat and almond milk. So long, seitan. Sacha inchi is the next big thing in plant-based protein alternatives. The “mountain peanut” is native to South America and offers a big nutritional punch. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids and is a good source of protein and tryptophan. This is an important amino acid precursor to serotonin that can promote sleep and general wellbeing. The seeds from the fruits are roasted and ground into a powder and added to foods. The oil is also extracted. Expect to see sacha inchi milk on shelves soon. As an added bonus, it offers an alternative income stream for farmers in Colombia and Peru, who are struggling to break free from the illicit cocaine trade.
Eating for the planet
Environmental eating is increasing as we all become more aware of the impact our food choices have on the planet. “Climatarianism” is set to be the new veganism as people make more educated choices about the climate impact of the food they eat. We might soon see the letter C alongside GF, DF and V on food products and menus. Carbon labelling will also become as common as nutrition advice and health star ratings. Research this year has indicated that a carbon label would influence purchasing behaviour.
This is also a very timely trend in the wake of the UN Climate Change Conference. Especially considering that the food we eat is responsible for nearly a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture is the second biggest contributor to greenhouse gases. And with Australians eating on average 95kg of meat per year (three times the global average), “reducetarian” and flexitarian diets will also continue to grow in popularity.
Eating less junk is another way of reducing emissions, while also benefiting health. More than a third of the energy in the average Aussie diet comes from junk foods and alcohol. Junk food and booze don’t create as much carbon as meat production, but due to the quantity we consume and all that packaging and processing, the climate impact adds up.
The vegie patch comes indoors
Taking locavore to the next level, ultra-urban gardening will see us bring orchards and vegie patches indoors by making use of whatever space is available. Think vertical lettuce walls, microgreen tiny towers, baby tomato vines and even mini lemon trees all flourishing inside our homes. It’s all about growing your own organic fruit and vegetables and creating sustainable food practices. Grow pod kits and bespoke lighting also look set to become part of the next new indoor design movement. Green is here for good.
We’ve become a nation of snackers, and food businesses are taking note. During lockdown, 49 percent of Australians replaced normal meals with snacks. A third rarely ate full meals, and 28 percent of us admitted to being heavy snackers. This trend looks set to continue post lockdown as people continue to work from home for at least part of the week. Demand for healthy snacks like muesli bars, breakfast bars and rice crackers is growing. And with the advent of new technology, we’re looking down the barrel of super snacks created to suit specific health needs. Think keto chips made healthier with pomegranates and cauliflower, and yoghurt made to taste with a personalised probiotic mix.
THE NEXT BIG TRENDS IN NATURAL HEALTH
Endeavour College naturopathy lecturer and naturopath David Stelfox predicts natural health will grow in the new year. This comes after concerns about climate change escalated during the pandemic. We’re also more aware of the need to nurture nature and ourselves.
Immune support won’t just be a focus heading into the winter months. It will become a year-round pursuit as we try to be as healthy as possible to fight viruses like COVID-19. Research shows the benefits of well-known immunity-boosting herbs such as Andrographis and elderberry. These both sold out in Australia at the peak of the first COVID wave.
However, we’ll also start to see some new herbs enter the market off the back of heightened interest in herbal immune boosters during the pandemic. Look out for desert ginseng – it’s been used throughout Mongolia, Western China and Iran for more than 2000 years. Now it’s caught the attention of modern researchers. Desert ginseng is an immunostimulant that also has adaptogenic, anti-inflammatory, cognition-enhancing and antidepressant properties. Of particular interest is its ability to address ageing of the immune system. This affords extra protection for older Australians.
A grandis idea
There’s even a citrus fruit peel which is capturing the world’s attention for its ability to treat respiratory infections. Recent research found Exocarpium Citri Grandis can enhance lung function, promote the elimination of excess mucus from the lower respiratory tract and support the immune system against viruses. It’s been used in Chinese medicine for years.
In addition to well-known adaptogens such as lion’s mane, chaga and reishi, we can also expect to see a greater range of medicinal mushrooms on the market such as agarikon, turkey tail and birch polypore, which can all assist our immune system.
Next level probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics are now mainstream food and health trends. But we’ll see more developments in this area as we continue to learn more about the gut microbiome and its influence on physical and mental health. Expect to see gut-healthy cocktails and mocktails made with probiotic ice cubes. You can also expect probiotic coffee and tea, which are being touted as the best way to start the day. The role bacteria play in our overall health is also broadening beyond the gut to the skin and mouth. This is to target concerns such as gingivitis or skin conditions like eczema. Keep a lookout for probiotic mouthwashes, gargles, skin washes, lotions, toothpastes and deodorants. There’ll also be probiotic supplements that use specific probiotic strains to address skin and mouth microbiomes.
We’ve all lived through an incredibly stressful time of late. In 2022, stress is likely to continue being a challenge for us all. It influences our mood, our energy levels, our ability to concentrate and many other aspects of our health. As people look for new ways to improve concentration beyond coffee, tea and energy drinks, we’ll see more stress-busting supplements on offer. Bacopa, withania and panax ginseng are already popular, but new research is shining a light on some more alternatives. These include spearmint and galangal (an aromatic herb found in many southeast Asian dishes). Both have been found to assist with stress alleviation and improvement of cognitive function.
In a mind-bender for beer-loving Australians, hops are also being developed as a supplement rather than a beverage. Recent studies have found Humulus lupulus, which is commonly used to make beer, increases concentration and reduces stress.
Endeavour College of Natural Health is the largest private higher education provider of natural medicine courses in the Southern Hemisphere. Endeavour offers an alternative path to university and VET courses for Australians wanting to pursue a career in the booming health and wellness industry. To find out more, head to endeavour.edu.au