My predictions 2021 – Health & Wellness
Food trends usually quickly come and go. I remember about a decade ago, exotic superfruits like acai, goji berries and mangosteen were all the rage for a couple years. Then it seemed like overnight, coconut oil was king. Fast forward even more recently and fermented drinks like kombucha flooded farmers markets and supermarket chains. Even alcoholic kombucha surged in popularity.
But I think the biggest health trends of 2021 will be less fly-by-night and won’t be dictated by more youthful market drivers like kombucha (“booch”) and fast food vegan burgers. Instead, next year’s trends in nutrition and wellness will be more permanent and predicated on people’s motivation to stay healthy during the pandemic.
So scoot your boot, booch, and make room for things that are going to exert a more positive impact on immunity and overall wellness.
#1: Low-Glycemic Diets
Back in the summer, even though the pandemic was only a few months old, it seemed like things were a lot less critical compared to now.
That’s because in the summer, people spend more time outdoors and aren’t challenged by viral infections nearly as much as in the winter.
But during the summer, I cautioned that it’s critical to pay attention to blood sugar levels and eat a low-glycemic diet so that your immune system stays strong in the transition to fall, which is when people get hit the hardest by viruses.
Unfortunately, we’re seeing a dramatic manifestation of that with Covid infections spiking.
Research shows that the virus that causes Covid-19 makes copies of itself by feasting on sugar. That’s not surprising as many viruses use sugar to reproduce. Data also shows that people with type 2 diabetes who have high blood sugar levels (in other words, those who have diabetes and aren’t controlling their blood sugar) are more at risk of developing severe Covid symptoms and dying from it.
Despite the promise of a Covid vaccine, many natural health-minded people realize that a vaccine alone does not provide an injection of wellness. I predict that more people will commit to eliminating added sugars from their diet.
I don’t know if the prediction will come true. I hope it does, obviously. Maybe I should retitle this post, Chef V’s Top Hopes For 2021. Nah, let’s stick with the prediction. I’m optimistic more people are going to experience a wake-up call and start taking charge of their health!
#2: Symbiotics For Gut Health
You don’t have to be a psychic to predict that probiotics will remain a major nutrition and wellness trend. But not everybody is as well informed about natural health as you are. Think about the millions of people who still are unaware of the link between gut health and immunity, mood stability, sleep quality, and a long list of other wellness factors.
I wrote about the importance of having good gut health a few years ago. But my thinking and knowledge about gut health has evolved since then. I no longer think that the secret to obtaining gut health is as simple as popping a probiotic pill. Not that I really ever thought that; I know that you can’t eat junk food and think that taking a probiotic pill will miraculously wipe out the harmful effects of a nutrient-poor diet.
But what I didn’t realize back when I wrote the post is that there are certain foods that are the cream of the crop for feeding the good bacteria in your gut. These foods contain prebiotic fiber, and I revealed them here.
I predict that in 2021 and for the next several years, symbiotic supplements are going to become a household name. Symbiotic supplements contain both prebiotic fiber and probiotics.
The reason you can’t achieve good gut health if you eat lots of processed food, even if you take a probiotic supplement is that without prebiotic fiber, your good bacteria has nothing to feed on; your gut’s friendly microorganisms won’t be able to flourish.
As more people delve into the inner workings of gut health, knowing that achieving it is essential for a healthy immune system, I expect symbiotics to be a booming business.
By the way, green leafy veggies like the 7 different kinds in my Organic Green Drink (delivered to your home for your convenience) are excellent sources of prebiotic fiber!
As a certified nutritional therapist, I’ve been aware of the therapeutic benefits of edible mushroom for years. Many people, however, equate mushrooms with a squishy, tasteless pizza topping or afterthought in a stir-fry dish. But mushrooms are already a big trend, and I expect fabulous fungi to get placed even higher on the superfood A-list.
The pandemic has more people seeking out foods that have anti-viral, immune-boosting capabilities. And mushrooms are all that and more. Some nutrition brands are making a killing peddling mushroom powder. I prefer to eat whole mushrooms but some people may prefer taking a mushroom powder supplement; eating fleshy, earthy-tasting mushrooms can be an acquired taste.
Obviously, eating mushrooms or taking mushroom powder is no guarantee for Covid prevention. But mushrooms truly are an immune-boosting superstar. If you’re not including them in your diet, start doing it now.
#4: Vitamin D
One year after the pandemic started making headlines, most people are aware of the connection between vitamin D and the severity of Covid symptoms. People whose lives have been tragically cut short by Covid are more likely to be vitamin D deficient. The alarming thing is that 9 out of 10 people may at the very least have suboptimal levels of vitamin D.
I talked about the connection between Vitamin D and the immune system earlier this year. (Read about it here.) The big takeaway from the article, in regards to Covid is that having enough vitamin D is an easy and effective way to reduce your risk of developing a respiratory infection.
Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure if you need to take a supplement is to get a vitamin D blood test. You can either get it from your doctor or order one online.
Vitamin D research organizations recommend taking more D than what the federal government recommends, which is 400 – 800 IUs per day. Instead, aim for 4000 to 5000 IUs, especially in winter when it’s next to impossible to synthesize enough active vitamin D from the sun.
The importance of vitamin D has been well documented for years. But because of the pandemic, it’s going to be at the forefront of many people’s minds for months if not years to come.
#5: Adapting to Stress
Right before Thanksgiving, I recommended doing these 5 things everyday to stay healthy during the holidays. One of them was supplementing with adaptogenic herbs. And I’m here to remind you to take adaptogens every single day.
In addition to balancing the immune system, and regulating blood sugar levels, adaptogens help the body get back in balance by neutralizing the harmful effects of stress. Adaptogenic herbs are the very best therapeutic plants Mother Nature has to offer.
They may not magically eliminate the stressors from your life, but they help your body and mind and even your spirit cope with stress. Adaptogens can improve stamina, libido, concentration, and sleep quality, all while helping you feel more relaxed and calm.
The toll that the pandemic is taking on people’s mental health is staggering. I realize that those who have lost jobs might not be able to afford to supplement with adaptogenic herbs, probiotics, vitamin D, not to mention vitamin C and zinc, all of which contribute to a healthy immune system.
But at the very least, eating a diet consisting of real food with no added sugars, and maintaining a daily meditation or deep breathing practice can help keep you healthy. Hopefully, these healthy habits will not only be trending in 2021, but will endure for the long haul.