Dietary Trends for 2018
2018 is likely to see some new trends in the wellness world as well as a continuation of some things that have already begun to infiltrate our lives. Here are a few that seem likely to feature in blogs, books, conversations and maybe your life, this year:
The Role of the Gut in Overall Health
The balance of organisms in the gut play a huge part not only in how well your gut functions but also in many other aspects of health. There is growing evidence to suggest that the microbiome plays a part in inflammation, weight, appetite and mood amongst other things. Some ways to support gut health include:
Diversity – there seems to be general agreement that the more diverse the range of organisms in the gut the better and that the best way to increase diversity is to eat a diverse diet, including plenty of fibre rich plant foods.
Exercise – getting moving supports gut health so be sure to get moving every day, preferably in fresh air and daylight.
Soil – getting down and dirty may also be beneficial as organisms that naturally live in soil that has not been treated with pesticides or artificial fertilisers can help to improve health. Eat organic, locally grown, seasonal food where possible or, even better, grow your own!
Diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, digestion, inflammation and longevity may all be improved by having periods of time each day where no food is eaten. Here are some ways that you can incorporate intermittent fasting into your life:
• Overnight – fortunately, it’s fairly easy to fast over night while you are asleep. To increase the benefits aim to leave 12 or more hours between your evening meal and breakfast the next morning. Reducing the number of hours each day in which food is eaten allows time for the body processes to fully get on top of their load.
• The 5:2 diet – this involves restricting food intake to between 500-800 calories 2 days each week. There is no calorie restriction on the other 5 days. This way of eating may help to improve various aspects of health. Start with just one day a week of restricted eating and see how you get on.
• Leave 4 or more hours between meals and snacks to allow the digestive system to digest one meal before starting on the next.
Whilst intermittent fasting may bring many benefits the long term effects on weight loss and other parameters of health are, as yet, unclear (1,2). Intermittent fasting may not be suitable for those who are on medications, pregnant, lactating, underweight, diabetic or with adrenal stress or poor blood sugar control.
Fat is in Fashion
Increasing awareness of the health benefits of fats and oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, and the oils found in avocados, nuts and seeds means that fat is now a health food. There are several dietary trends that rely on the majority of calories coming from fats, such as ketogenic diets and some paleo style diets. Here are just some benefits of dietary fat:
〉 Absorption of fat soluble vitamins – vitamins A, D, E and K all need fat in order to be absorbed. Without them the immune system, the skeletal system, blood sugar and skin and hair health may all suffer.
〉 Antioxidants – oils improve the absorption of antioxidants from vegetables (3,4,5,6).
〉 Heart protection – the omega 3 and 6 essential fats are vital for cardiovascular health. The mono-unsaturated fats, as found in olives and avocados have beneficial effects on cholesterol (7,8).
〉 Anti-inflammatory – inflammatory disorders such as arthritis, bursitis, gout and eczema may all be exacerbated by a deficiency in the essential fats.
〉 Reduce cravings and over-eating – fat carries flavour and increases satiety meaning you feel more satisfied after eating a meal containing fat than if you eat a meal without any fat.
We’ve probably all experienced the one-size-fits all health care system and found it wanting. When it comes to health we all have different needs and these needs vary over the course of our lives. Anyone who seeks information about the best way to eat, the best exercise to do and the best way to live is likely to end up confused.
Whilst it is good to stay educated and informed about health and to experiment with different ways of eating, it is important not to lose touch with what your body is telling you. The body produces signs and symptoms that give clues as to what is working and what is not. Tune into how you feel and don’t imagine that just because someone else has done well following a particular regime it will be the magic bullet for you. No one diet, exercise programme, medicine or supplement works for everyone.
There are an increasing number of tests that can be done to help assess your health and these can be useful when trying to work out which diet or supplements might be useful to you. However, remember they only provide a snap shot, not the whole picture. Therapists and practitioners can be useful for helping you on your journey to health but no one can know your body better than you know it yourself. Tap into this knowledge. Needs alter with the seasons and with the life stages and life events so be prepared to adjust according to your needs.
With the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria the need to use the naturally occuring antibiotics in plants is increasingly relevant. There are many culinary herbs and spices that have antibiotic effects that can be safely used at home as a preventative measure. These include thyme, oregano, garlic, ginger, parsley, calendula, cloves and cinnamon. There are many others that can be used medicinally such as echinacea, uva ursi, astragalus, cat’s claw and grapeseed extract.
Supporting the body’s own defences by providing a healthy environment for the microbial balance of organisms in the gut and on the skin will reduce the need for antibiotics. This means avoiding taking medical antibiotics except where absolutely necessary and avoiding anti-bacterial soaps and household products such as those containing triclosan. Eating a largely plant based, fibre rich diet including fermented foods and antioxidant rich foods will help to strengthen the body’s own defences.
See also the blog post on Lifestyle Wellness Trends for 2018.
Always consult with your GP or medical specialist before embarking on any dietary regime.
- 1. Behav Sci (Basel) 2017 Jan 19;7(1). pii: E4. Potential Benefits and Harms of Intermittent Energy Restriction and Intermittent Fasting Amongst Obese, Overweight and Normal Weight Subjects-A Narrative Review of Human and Animal Evidence. Harvie M, Howell A.
- 2. Obesity, Jan 2018, Vol19;1 p:1–13 Short-term intermittent energy restriction interventions for weight management: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Harris L, McGarty A et al.
- 3. Lakshminarayana R, Raju M, Krishnakantha TP, Baskaran V. Lutein and zeaxanthin in leafy greens and their bioavailabilty: olive oil influences the absorption of dietary lutein and its accumulation in adult rats. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Jul 25;55(15):6395-400
- 4. O’Connell O, Ryan L, O’Sullivan L, Aherne-Bruce SA, O’Brien NM. Carotenoid micellarization varies greatly between individual and mixed vegetables with or without the addition of fat or fibre. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2008 Jul-Sep;78(4-5):238-46
- 5. Fielding JM, Rowley KG, Cooper P, O’Dea K. Increases in plasma Lycopene concentration after consumption of tomatoes cooked with olive oil. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2005;14(2):131-6
- 6. Masala G, Ceroti M, Pala V, Krogh V et al. A dietary pattern rich in olive oil and raw vegetables is associated with lower mortality in Italian elderly subjects. Br J Nutr. 2007 Aug;98(2):406-15
- 7. Castaner O, Fito M, Lopez-Sabater MC et al. The effect of olive oil polyphenols on antibodies against oxidized LDL. A randomized clinical trial. Clin Nutr. 2011 Mar 2.
- 8. Bendellini B, Masala G, Saieva C, Salvini S et al. Fruit, vegetables and olive oil and risk of coronary heart disease in Italian women: the EPICOR Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;93(2):275-83