Nutrition is an ever-evolving field. Even professionals who work in it need to adapt to the ever-changing environment. The change and evolution of nutrition are so rapid that even we, as experts, need to learn and unlearn several concepts as we handle patients worldwide.
At the end of every year, we sit down and list some trends that we predict will take off in the coming year. But this year feels different. It doesn't feel like another end-of-the-year activity. The last two years have taught us a lot about health and wellness and brought about some of the most powerful lessons about nutrition. What we take away and learn from the last two years is what 2022 will be all about. So, these are not just trends—but positive learning experiences about nutrition that we can see more of in the New Year. People are already fed up with nutrition being so complicated. They are fed up with jumping from one fad diet to another, and seeing no results.
Here are seven 'positive' trends on our radar in 2022 that have the potential to touch your life and health.
1. Early dinners and circadian fasting
The internet was swarmed with this trend in 2021, and it's likely to continue to be in the spotlight through coming years as well. Why? Because it is natural and it works! Finishing our last meal of the day with (or close to) sunset and breaking it the next day only after sunrise is perhaps the most powerful lifestyle change one could ever make. In fact, this isn't a trend—it is how our body is designed to function. We aren't designed to digest late-night meals. As the sun sets, our digestive system slows down and eventually shuts shop. This is why we often wake up feeling acidic, groggy, and heavy after a late-night meal. It affects every single aspect of our health—weight, sleep, digestion, gut, mental clarity, and so much more. Those who made this simple change of aligning their meals with the circadian rhythm have already witnessed its impact in the form of better-looking skin and hair, better mood, reduced cravings, better digestion and bowel movements, good sleep quality, lesser weight, and a lot more.
2. Personalised nutrition
Are you following just another nutrition plan or a plan that suits your individual needs? You are as unique as your fingerprints are. Even identical twins do not have the same fingerprints. We are all unique individuals. So how can blindly following generic nutrition plans floating on the internet or celeb diet plans ever work for you? The future of nutrition will be personalisation based on what works for you—your lifestyle, health goals, requirements, parameters, and other nutritional demands. It isn't just going to be about pumping more protein or fats into your diet just because you need it. Knowing that everyone is unique means that dietary aspects like carb, protein, and fat efficiency will also be unique for you. The cookie-cutter approach has always failed and will continue to.
3. Embracing hunger
Another concept that is picking up is embracing hunger, and it is being used as a tool to balance sugar levels, accelerate fat burn, enhance digestion, boost immunity, prolong longevity, fight cancer, and manage other lifestyle diseases. Hunger is different from starvation. Most people dread hunger and eat the next meal even before experiencing physical hunger because they do not want to feel uncomfortable. But gracefully extending your hunger for a duration you are comfortable with—whether it's 10 minutes or 30 minutes—is an indicator that your body has thoroughly digested the last meal. There is deep science behind hunger, and it will probably need one entire article to explain how it works. Nevertheless, it is changing people's health in remarkable ways.
4. Slow eating
Slowing down, in general, is going to trend in 2022—and this approach also needs to spill over into nutrition. We have tried on-the-go meals and working lunches—and at times, we have no option but to give in. That said, can eating this way be the way forward? Absolutely not! Eating is a sacred art, and slow eating is one of its most essential rituals. This one lifestyle change can work wonders for portion control, better nutrient absorption, fat loss, diabetes management, and feeling psychologically content.
5. Going global
Yes, eating local is important. But it is not everything—and the useless debate of eating local versus global must end now. Disease and suffering don't differentiate and limit themselves within geographical boundaries, so why must nutrition? And there is no better example than COVID, as it has plagued all corners of the world. Similarly, cancer is not a local disease, nor is cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's, or Parkinson's. So if you can access foods that might not be local but can help manage your physical condition, why would you not eat them? When your disease is global, you need to open your eyes and pay heed to global foods too. It is okay to ensure that your diet is 100% local. But if you need global foods that can help you with your health conditions, keep your mind open when it comes to them too. So, we must move out of our rigid and boxed approach, and be open to embracing what works for us.
6. Focusing on micronutrients and trace minerals
We will also see a shift in focus from macros to micros. With the kind of diseases and symptoms we are seeing people experience, we are noticing how even a single micronutrient deficiency (like magnesium, iodine, selenium, zinc, etc.) can lead to several issues in the body. And no matter how hard we try to procure organic foods, there is a deterioration in food quality overall. So in the coming year, we will see an increased focus on ensuring that our diet is rich in trace minerals and micronutrients.
7. An increased focus on inflammation
Over the past two years, immunity has been the buzzword and one of the most explored terms on search engines. But do you know what the next buzzword is going to be? Inflammation.!Take any disease, ranging from cancer, weight gain, pancreatitis, and diabetes to kidney disease, brain degenerative condition, and even autoimmunity—it all comes down to inflammation. Thus, they are also known as inflammatory diseases in the medical world.
While inflammation isn't a bad thing, uncontrolled inflammation can also turn on faulty gene expression, which can lead to many serious complications. An inflamed and acidic environment is ideal for cancer cells to thrive because this kind of environment is oxygen-deprived. Diseases do not make their way into the body overnight. There has to be a favourable environment for the diseases, and inflammation is one of the reasons for that.
A lack of focus on inflammation is also one of the reasons why the world is stuck in chronic sickness today. No amount of pills and medications will take away a disease until the root cause of uncontrolled inflammation is addressed—which primarily revolves around lifestyle and is fortunately under our control. Thus, the future of nutrition will also focus on inflammation and adding foods that can keep inflammation under control, which includes basics like common kitchen spices, herbs, chemical-free foods, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and at the same time cutting down on all refined foods like sugar, flour, and oil. And, this is not just another trend—it’s real and here to stay.
In the next few years, the world will change, which will also bring a massive change in people's approach towards nutrition. While the world continues to move fast, we are now moving several steps back and going back to our roots when it comes to food. It is what worked for our grandparents and parents, and it will continue to work for us. The basic fundamentals of our body and nutrition never change, no matter how advanced we become in terms of technology.