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Health: The Biggest Food Trends Of 2016

Health: The Biggest Food Trends Of 2016

Forget quinoa and kale. Accredited practising nutritionist and For Food’s Sake co-founder Gen James-Martin runs you through the health food trends you'll be seeing everywhere this year.
Let's assume we have all got through the hedonistic party season, moved on
to the self-loathing/I’m never drinking again/I’m doing the Paleo diet, the Fasting diet and quitting sugar all once time of year and are now hopefully at more stable stage - back into work and trying to eat fairly well.

It’s a pretty typical cycle at this time of year, hence the huge amount of health and wellness information and advertising at the beginning of the year, when healthy intentions are at an all time high.

We are all about the more balanced approach - not getting carried away with fads and diets - but it’s always nice to keep your finger on the pulse, so let’s drill down into what 2016's food trends - and if any of them have science behind the hype.

L O V E   Y O U R   G U T

Gut health and more specifically your gut microbiome (the bacteria and fungi in your gut) is a big trend - and we are big fans. This is one area where the science is strong, showing that your intestinal ecosystem plays a much bigger role than just transporting waste, and can affect everything from your digestion to your hormones and even brain health. Probiotics are often touted as the best way to improve your gut bacteria. These add new, healthy bacteria into the gut and include yoghurt and fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir.

The much less talked about step before probiotics is prebiotics - the foods that feed the good bacteria that are already in your gut, allowing them to grow and thrive. Most prebiotics don’t come with a hefty price tag or even a label touting their health benefits - rather they are in the indigestible carbohydrates in fresh fruit and vegetables, in particular bananas, apples, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, asparagus, garlic, yams and onions.

W H A T ’ S   A N C I E N T   I S   N E W   A G A I N

Move over quinoa, introducing teff grain. This gluten-free ancient super
grain is high in protein, calcium, iron and packed with B-vitamins and apparently even vitamin K. It has been used as a daily staple by Ethiopians for centuries and can replace grains, nuts and seeds in your cooking - it works especially well as porridge or even in baking.


Freekeh, another under utilised ancient grain, is also making itself known this year. While it can’t boast gluten free status, this young green wheat is high in protein, fibre and iron and has a delicious nutty flavour perfect for a hearty salad. With so many interesting grains becoming readily available there is no need to rely on bread, rice and pasta as daily staples anymore.

K I N G   O F   T H E   O C E A N

If teff is the new quinoa, then seaweed is definitely the new kale. This is certainly one bandwagon I am happy to board as it’s packed with soluble fibre, protein, iodine, calcium and the hard-to-come-by-if-you-are-a-vego vitamin B12. It is one of the world’s most sustainable food sources, needing no fertilizer or farm land to grow. What’s not to love? It’s worth getting to know the different types, but as a quick overview: algae is raw seaweed, nori is the dried algae used in sushi, dulse is soft, chewy and is reddish brown in colour, wakame is sweet and used in miso and kombu has large leaves and is often used in ramen noodles. Oh, and spirulina is actually seaweed – great to add to

A final note of how diet trends might go over the next year - with 2015 definitely The Year of Paleo, 2016 ushers in a air of moderation (we hope) with a growing number of people identifying with the flexitarian eating style. What does it mean? It refers to a semi-vegetarian dietary pattern where people eat a mostly plant-based diet including some meat and seafood occasionally. The reasons people are moving this way are many and varied, including health, animal ethics and environmental concerns. While it may just sound like a cheating vegetarian it provides a way for non-vegetarians to lean in to the concept. Sounds like the most sensible thing I’ve heard in the nutrition world in a while. Why not start with Meat Free Monday?

See more on Gen’s blog For Food’s Sake + over on Instagram.

Feature image via Nutrition Stripped.

Words: Gen James-Martin / Lucy Ahern
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