Healthspan June 14, 2018

Until agriculture was developed around 10,000 years ago, all humans got their food by hunting, gathering and fishing. But it’s the 21st Century and times have changed. In a perfect world the stone age diet of nuts, seeds, vegetables and hunted meat matches our genetic makeup. In today’s world of diversity and technological revolution, that is simply not the case. Not only are we adapting our diet to suit our busy lifestyles, we’re looking for achievable, quick ways to optimise our nutrition. 

But it’s not just a love of food that keeps Britain’s gastronomy thriving – it’s health. In 2018, we’re more knowledgeable about what we’re putting into our bodies than ever before. Nutrition is at the forefront, not just for aesthetic purposes but for physical and mental health, too.

The trends that will shape the future of food:

Charcoal ice cream, moringa, matcha powder, turmeric lattes, vitamin-added chocolate, avocado chocolate and the ‘bleeding vegan beef burger’ are just a few of the food trends of 2017-2018 that have blown us away. Not necessarily because of their taste but because of their representation of how advanced the food eco-system of Britain is now, compared with thousands of years ago.

Healthspan have linked up with Food Futurist Lyndon Gee for a sneak peek into upcoming trends, some of which are set to gain traction in 2018.

1.Veganism

With 542,000 Vegans in the UK, half of which are under 34 years of age, this trend is far from ready to disappear. Veganuary 2018 saw 167,000 sign ups, a 360% increase over the last decade, with partakers seeking confirmation of the portrayed health benefits of ‘going vegan’, such as lower cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as wanting to do their bit against the negative effects of meat and dairy farming on the planet.

In the future:

•Flexitarian eating will be become increasingly common as Brits seek confirmation that they’re helping to look after the planet through a certain number of ‘vegan days’ a week, as opposed to conforming entirely to a vegan diet;

•Vegan junk food is readily available, but we’ll see super-indulgent ‘dirty’ vegan food like fake burgers and fries that is just as unhealthy as regular fast food come to the fore in 2018.

2.Snacking

With fragmented daily routines and changing work patterns, full meals are increasingly giving way to multiple snacks throughout the day, meaning a balanced snack is becoming as important as a balanced meal for maintaining good levels of nutrition. People are seeking convenient nutrient-dense snacks to keep their energy levels high during a tightly packed daily routine of work, exercise and social-time.

In the future:

•We’ve already seen a demand for sustainable, organically sourced snack foods and that trend will continue. Peanut butter in squeezable sachets and marmite chocolate are both examples of the pressure brands are feeling to provide new, exciting sensations and textures. We’re seeking more culturally diverse foods now, too. Especially since cuisines such as Mediterranean and Japanese regularly hit health headlines in regard to their health benefits. Expect an influx of even more wild and wonderful snack options that will keep you interested throughout 2018.

•The future sees food vaping, where nutrients and intense flavours are inhaled into the mouth, providing not just the enjoyment of food but also delivering micro nutrients. Think white truffle B12 shots.

3.Fortified foods

There’s a growing demand for functional ingredients that fill nutritional gaps as we develop busier and more hectic life schedules. Protein is a particularly hot trend as a pillar of health for strength in older age. But interestingly, it’s strength in younger people that’s dominating this craze, with people looking to protein shakes post a gym class or a weight lifting session to aid their muscles’ repair process. The UK Government may fortify further foods to benefit public health, too, such as folic acid in flour for which research, recently highlighted by the BBC, overwhelmingly dictates the importance of folic acid for helping to protect new-borns from common birth defects.

In the future:

•Naturally fortified foods, created by selective breeding and genetic engineering. Think multivitamin apples, vitamin C rich beef burgers, B12 rich vegetables, all of which lead towards optimum nutrition as opposed to adequate nutrition (optimum nutrition is a popular term denoting someone who seeks to be in a state of peak physical and mental health that is unique to them).

•Smart foods that deliver key nutrients at different life stages or for specific health needs. Beyond functional foods; foods are vessels for all types of nutrients and medications. We’re looking towards personalised nutrition that proves the point one size does not fit all.

•Food-based nootropics will appear; natural cognitive enhancers that improve function, creativity, memory and motivation. We’ve already seen avocado recommended as a skin moisturiser and charcoal as a pore cleanser, but food is fast becoming the key that unlocks optimum health. And that extends far beyond what goes into your stomach!

4.Comfort eating

We all crave comfort foods sometimes, childhood favourites and familiar tastes. New products will give traditional recipes a healthy twist. All the flavour with none of the guilt will aim to conquer health problems associated with – for example - obesity caused by over-the-top portion sizes and high blood pressure caused by too much salt.

In the future:

•Advanced sugar alternatives, sodium-free salt and healthy fats that give texture, consistency and flavour to food as opposed to too many trans and saturated fats that cause an increase in LDL cholesterol (the bad type of cholesterol). Macaroni cheese that tastes utterly real but contains none of the bad stuff, anyone?

•Mood foods create nostalgic thoughts of childhood or comforting experiences; with herb compounds to relax and chill or boost energy. We’ll incorporate popular wellness techniques like ‘hygge’ – the Swedish health phenomenon that stems from living in the moment – into our food.

5.Mindful eating

Thinking about what, when and how we eat will become mainstream as benefits are recognised and consumers discover it helps them enjoy food but regulate their weight. Birmingham University found people who snacked watching television ate 19% more and playing computer games whilst eating meant 69% more snacks were consumed.

In the future:

•Mindful eating is recommended by health practitioners, dieticians and nutritionists.

•Experiential mindful eating will bring healthy snacks with food-focused mini meditation instructions on the pack. Just imagine your takeaway salad at work but with added instructions for 5 minutes-worth of meditation on its packaging.

6.Bio-hacking

Combining biology with hacking will be major. Individuals effectively ‘hack’ their body to achieve specific goals. This – again – harks back to personalisation where each individual requires a completely different set of health rules that have been tailored to them, if they are to achieve optimum wellbeing.

In the future:

•Measuring macros is already a pivotal trend as dieters or those seeking ultimate fitness move beyond calories and carbs towards macro nutrients. Apps enabling accurate macro counting are increasingly popular.

•Food products with macro nutrients identified and macro-counts on restaurant menus is where we’ll see further advances with this trend. At the moment it’s tricky to calculate whether you’re eating exactly the right amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates for your body and your health goals. The latter will make this process a whole lot easier.

7.Binge living

Mintel found healthy, energising and light snacks are consumed earlier in the day. We work out but still relish indulgence with sweet or savoury evening snacking. It’s all about having the balance that allows you a slice of chocolate cake because you know you’ll burn it off in that evening’s exercise class. Also, binge living brings with it millennials that focus on ethics yet want thrills and new dietary experiences.

In the future:

•Digitised dining enables virtual experiences, when family and friends gather together virtually around the cyber table to share food, no matter where they are.

•Sensory foods that change character, altering textures and tastes in time with music, enhancing each experience to add another dimension. Food is set to touch more than just your taste buds.

The future of food is no doubt exciting. For your first step into the future see Healthspan’s collection of fortified snacks that will tingle your taste buds, whilst giving your nutrient levels a top-up.

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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