While 2013 comes to a close, we’re already thinking about 2014. After all, a new year means new resolutions, new habits, new attitudes, and new pursuits.
But how do we filter out the old and keep up-to-the-minute, especially when ideas change so much from year to year?
Top 5 Healthy Food Trends
Organic. This is one trend that keeps growing year by year and U.S. organic food sales in 2014 are expected to reach the $35 billion mark. While the jury remains out on whether organic foods are more nutritious than conventionally produced foods, organic foods hold other benefits that consumers find attractive.
For example, organic foods have considerably fewer pesticide residues and little to no additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colorings, and flavorings. Organic farming practices are often more eco-friendly as well, producing less pollution and conserving both water and soil. In addition, with growing concern over genetically modified organisms (GMOs), plants and animals that have had changes introduced into their DNA through genetic engineering, buying organic is one of the only ways to avoid buying genetically modified foods. Expect to see organic produce sections continue to grow in grocery store chains and to find more foods labeled organic on the shelves, as well.
Juicing. The juicing craze that exploded in 2013 is far from over. Juicing and juice cleanses are now for everyone, not just health enthusiasts. It’s an easy way for those “too busy” to get their daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables to simply drink them and enjoy the benefits of detoxification, weight loss, and boosted immunity.
Cold-pressed from “slow” juicers is the method of choice, as the traditional centrifugal juicers generate heat that destroys the beneficial enzymes found in fruits and veggies. The fresher, the better, too, and at-home “slow juicers” are being offered by brands such as Breville, Omega, and Hurom.
Too busy to juice? Neighborhood juiceries and juices from Pressed and Blueprint offer grab-and-go convenience or delivery nationwide, and look for both Jamba Juice and Starbucks’ Evolution Fresh to continue moving into this growing market. And don’t be surprised to see cold-pressed juices on the cocktail menu at your favorite bar or restaurant. Not only do these fresh cocktails taste better, who doesn’t want a little dose of nice to balance out the naughty?
Going Green. Meatless Mondays, vegetarian, vegan – everyone is going green these days, even if only part-time. Prepackaged salad mixes are rising in popularity, and more than a third of people use them in foods other than salad. Sales of tender leaf blends such as arugula, spinach, and spring mix saw an increase of 12% in 2013 and show no signs of slowing. But the real proof? Restaurants are seeing the green in going green. The humble salad bar has evolved into vegetarian-friendly chains with delicious and creative meat-free offerings like those from Sweetgreen, Tender Greens, and Veggie Grill. Fast-growing Chipotle is adding tofu to the menu, and even fine-dining restaurants refuse to be left behind with more and more seasonal farm-to-table dishes appearing on menus at price points rivaling their meat-heavy counterparts.
Tea. Move over, coffee, there’s a new hot beverage taking over. Hot or iced, sweetened or unsweetened, in lattes and ice-blended, the versatility of this ancient beverage is undeniable. Tea is considered a superfood, as it is rich in the disease-fighting flavonoids and antioxidants known as catechins as well as polyphenols, antioxidants that fight cell-damaging free radicals. It’s been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, and Alzheimer’s, and it may even help reduce stress. Expect it to be more available than ever in 2014. Starbucks has begun plans to open Teavana Tea Bars across the nation, and tea flavors are popping up in everything from ice cream to cupcakes to vodka.
Chia Seeds. Chia is no longer just a fad pet from the ‘80s. The seeds are a whole-grain superfood that is absorbed by the body as seeds, and they are an excellent source of heart-smart omega-3 fatty acids. Just one ounce (about 2 Tbsp.) provides 4g of protein, 12g of carbohydrates, and 11g of fiber, as well as 18% of the recommended daily intake of calcium, 30% of the recommended daily intake of manganese, and 27% of the recommended daily intake of phosphorous. They have a mild, nutty flavor, and can be added to cereal, sauces, vegetables, or mixed into yogurt or drinks. When added to liquid, they develop a gelatinous coating that can prevent blood sugar spikes and help make you feel full. Look to find them on the menu at your favorite juice or smoothie bars and on store shelves throughout 2014.
Top 5 Exercise & Fitness Trends
CrossFit. Burpees, thrusts, pistols – CrossFit has a language all its own, and we can expect to hear more of these buzzwords in 2014. The competitive yet supportive aspect of this “community” has only helped its popularity with fitness fanatics both young and mature. This year saw the growth of more than 10,000 independently-owned gyms, or “boxes,” nationwide where enthusiasts engaged in Workouts of the Day (WOD), high-intensity interval training routines that involve short bursts of intense activity with breaks in between. Pushing yourself to the limit is the goal, and this is one trend that will keep pushing along with its members.
Themed Races. Tough Mudder, Mud Run, Spartan Race, and even a Zombie Run – themed races are all the rage. A far cry from the traditional 5k, these events make running all the more fun and even raise your adrenaline levels by adding obstacles such as wall climbs, mud pits, wading through water, crawling under barbed wire, and running away from the undead. There are races for all ages, skill levels, and interests across the country, so there really is something for everyone. Expect to see bigger events in 2014, as most participants from the current year say they plan to do it again and bring people along for the fun.
Souped-Up Spin Classes. Spinning is back with a vengeance. Both SoulCycle and Flywheel stationary biking classes are taking over across the nation; arm exercises, choreographed sequences, climbs, and sprints are done in high-energy environments that are more like nightclubs than gyms, complete with black lights, disco balls, music, LED lights, and high-definition videos. If that’s not for you, there are candlelight spin classes, or even underwater spin classes! Don’t be surprised to see even more takes on this tried-and-true workout pop up in the coming year.
Board-Based Core Exercises. Improving your balance and strengthening your core should be on your list for 2014. Both the landbound and those close to the water are engaging in core-strengthening exercises with new fitness activities designed to maximize those muscles in your middle. Stand-up paddleboarding, paddleboard yoga, Surfset boards, and Indo Yoga Boards all provide an unstable surface that works out those core and lower body muscles as you try to maintain your balance. But if you plan on doing a board-based exercise, don’t forget your feet! Stretching out your toes and feet and rotating your ankles will help you stay attached to your board without cramping up and maximize your core-training workout.
Tabata Protocol. This workout program, also known as the “Four Minute Miracle,” is less fitness routine and more session structure. A type of high-intensity interval training developed for Japanese Olympians in the ‘70s, Tabata workouts alternate a 20-second maximum intensity cardio activity like running, jumping rope, or biking, with 10 seconds of rest over the course of four minutes. The workout is touted to be effective at burning fat, building muscle, and improving aerobic and anaerobic capacity, but the key is making sure you put in 100% during those 20 seconds. It’s even being worked into CrossFit WODs, so expect to see it increasingly in 2014.
Top 3 Supplement Trends
Probiotics. The “functional food” trend isn’t going away; it’s here to stay! With every week bringing new information about how these bacteria benefit our bodies from improved cognition to weight loss, it’s no surprise we’re seeing everything from yogurt to pickles touting probiotic benefits. So many Americans suffer from poor digestive health, and increased antibiotic use and chlorinated water only help exacerbate this issue, so you’ll see an increase in probiotic products and supplements through 2014, as people “recolonize” their guts with good bacteria in the aim of better health.
Omega-3s. Although Omega-3 supplements have been popular for some time now, these essential fatty acids are expanding into new territory in 2014. High-potency fish oils, specific-source fish oils, fish-free Omega-3s (from flax, chia, hemp, and other plant sources), Omega-3s for kids, and Omega-3-enriched foods are all slated to appear on shelves in the coming year. Taking an Omega-3 supplement is known for boosting cognition but other benefits include anti-aging properties, lowering vascular and joint inflammation, protecting against skin cancer, and lowering triglyceride levels – all reason enough to continue taking them.
Vitamin D3. Also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D supplementation continues to increase year by year as its benefits become more widely known. D3 can help boost the immune system, preventing illness, help regulate blood pressure and cardiovascular health, and is necessary for the absorption of calcium – important for mature adults in both preventing and treating osteoporosis. With new research showing that more than a third of the global population doesn’t get enough vitamin D, expect to see more products hitting the market in 2014.
Top 3 Natural Beauty Trends
Sulfate-free. Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) is a chemical found in cleaning products and hygiene products, which is effective in removing oily residues. It’s what gives soap products that foamy consistency. While it has been shown not to be a carcinogen, it can be harsh and irritating for skin. With big-name manufacturers like L’Oreal and Pantene jumping on the sulfate-free bandwagon with sulfate-free shampoos, conditioners, face cleansers, and body washes, don’t be surprised when others follow suit in the coming year.
Argan Oil. Called “liquid gold” by its fans, argan oil from Morocco is showing up everywhere, from hair products to skin care lines. It’s a natural source of vitamin E and essential fatty acids that promises moisturizing, anti-aging, and healing properties. It’s so popular, in fact, that model Josie Maran developed an entire makeup and skincare line around it, and other big names like Avon, Garnier, and Kiehls have infused their products with it. As concerns about quality and purity grow with its ever-increasing popularity, expect more products to be introduced across the board, from drugstore to luxury brands.
“Organic” Makeup. Sure, we’re putting more organics in our bodies, but we’re also putting more organics on our bodies, too. With growing health concerns about the use of synthetic chemicals like aluminum salts and parabens in personal care products, natural and organic options are expected to exceed sales of $14 billion by 2015. Popular drugstore brand Physicians Formula has released an Organic Wear line of products ranging from moisturizer, foundation to mascara, and high-end, luxury brands such as L’Occitane, Ole Henriksen, and SK-II are incorporating 100% organic ingredients into their products, so watch for the organic makeup offerings to continue growing in the coming year.
Top 3 Diet & Lifestyle Trends
Clean Eating. Eating clean doesn’t mean extra scrubbing of your produce; it refers to the idea of eating foods in their whole and most natural state to maximize their nutritional benefits. Clean eaters avoid processed foods, and choose low-starch vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, lean meats, and whole grains like farro that break down slowly to prevent spikes in blood sugar. They also trade saturated fats (bad fats) for healthy fats from nuts, avocados, and olive oil. Consider “spring-cleaning” your diet in 2014.
Clean Sweeteners. Eating clean also applies to sweeteners. The popularity of natural, “clean,” calorie-free sweeteners like stevia continues to grow as consumers look to minimize their sugar intake. The newest player in the alternative sweetener game is monk fruit, a small, sweet melon native to China and Southeast Asia. Made from monk fruit extract, which is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar, and with a consistency similar to granulated sugar, this product boasts a low glycemic index, zero carbs, low to no calories, and none of the bitter aftertaste of stevia. You’ll soon be seeing Monk Fruit in the Raw or Nectresse right next to the familiar white, pink, blue, and yellow sweetener packets.
Elimination Diets. Gluten-free has been huge the past few years, but gluten is just one of many things people are shunning in the pursuit of wellness. With the increasing prevalence of allergies and food intolerances, elimination diets are all the rage. From no carbs, no dairy, no gluten, to no refined sugars, it seems there are a limitless number of diets that exclude whatever may be the cause of your ills, and the list will continue to grow in 2014.
Top 3 Health Condition Trends
Holistic Nutrition. Nutrition is finally getting the attention it deserves as a way to prevent and combat health issues. Working from the inside out for health and even beauty is considered the norm rather than the exception. Clinical nutrition’s role in healthcare is expected to grow, along with other alternative healthcare options like Traditional Chinese Medicine. Expect to see even major food producers jump on the holistic trend with more nutritious food and beverage options available to consumers in the next year.
Employer Wellness Initiatives. Health and wellness program offerings are becoming part of workplace culture. More employers are offering discounts on healthcare premiums for employees who participate in annual health assessments or employer-sponsored wellness programs and offering incentives for completing health and wellness programs. You’ll see an increase in financial incentives to encourage participation, as well as supplementary practices such as onsite seasonal flu vaccine clinics, wellness publications, the availability of 24-hour nurse hotlines, and health screening programs.
Telemedicine. With healthcare reform comes the opportunity for telemedicine, the use of electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status by exchanging medical information from one site to another, to demonstrate its benefits. Telemedicine uses a number of technology forms including but not limited to two-way video, email, smart phones, and wireless tools, to remotely monitor patients. With the success of pilot programs like the Mayo Clinic’s “telestroke” program for stroke patients, telemedicine is projected to grow as a way to provide better care while reducing healthcare costs and reducing readmissions by continuing post-discharge care.
Remember, you don’t have to follow every trend, but keeping current can help you make well-informed decisions for yourself and for your health. Now that you know what’s coming, you should feel prepared to meet 2014 headfirst! Be first to learn about the latest health & wellness trends by reading our monthly articles and weekly news coverage.
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.