5 Nutrition Trends We’ll See More of in 2021

Nutrition is an ever-evolving field covering both exciting advances in research and newly trending TikTok pasta recipes.

While 2020 was all about the keto diet, intermittent fasting, unconventional “charcuterie” boards (hello, pavlova grazing boards), faux meats and low-sugar alcoholic beverages, 2021 welcomes a newfound approach to food and nutrition.

This years sees a major shift back to the basics as we slow down and start to appreciate the simpler - and local - things in life. Here are the five biggest trends to look out for in 2021.

5 biggest nutrition trends of 2021

1. Linking food and mood

Given the events of 2020, it’s no surprise that interest in the link between diet and mental health is soaring as scientists discover more ways in which the food we eat affects our emotional wellbeing.

Research into the gut-brain axis and the role a healthy microbiota (the trillions of bacteria living in our gut) is an exciting and growing space in health. We already know that a diet rich in a diverse range of plants (think veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds and legumes), antioxidants, probiotics and certain vitamins and minerals have been linked to better mental health.

Even today, scientific studies are being undertaken to form firmer conclusions in the field, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store.

2. Immune system support

Supporting our immune systems will be top of mind this year as the COVID pandemic continues. While there’s no specific diet or supplement that will prevent or cure the illness, diet can play a role in ensuring we’re as well as possible to tackle anything that comes our way. There’s growing research in the connection between our gut health (yep, that ol’ chestnut again!) and our immune system.

In fact, you might be surprised to learn that a huge proportion of our immune system is actually found in our gastrointestinal tract. The key is to fuel your microbiota with a diverse range of plants, which can also contain a range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can reduce inflammation. Some of these include vitamins A, C, D, E, B2, B6, and B12, folic acid, iron, selenium and zinc.

3. Flirting with flexibility 

Here’s hoping the days of extreme diets are over with the increasing popularity of flexible eating styles like the flexitarian method. The movement is described as ‘casual’ or ‘semi’ vegetarianism, aiming to reduce meat intake rather than cancel it altogether. This can be done by reducing the amount of meat-based meals and eating more plant-based meals, or reducing the amount of animal protein per meal and increasing the plant-based component within meals. 

Research has found a wealth of benefits from eating more plants including managing a healthy body weight, boosting metabolic health, improving blood pressure, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and the potential role in managing inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s. Plus, there’s also environmental perks like reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

4. Algae is the new kale

Farmed microalgae could well be the biggest green ‘superfood’ trend since kale. Although we’ve been eating seaweed for a long time, microalgae has recently garnered more attention ticking both nutrition and sustainability boxes. Not only is it a plant-based protein, but it’s also packed with omega-3 fatty acids and its production has a lower impact on the environment.  

5. Keeping it local

The delicate balance of supplying nutritious food to our populations whilst respecting the environment is increasingly front of mind for consumers. The global pandemic has opened up many people’s eyes to what is available in their local community. Local cafes and farmers markets have enjoyed renewed popularity as people choose to shop and eat close to their homes.

Locally produced food is gentler on the environment, seasonal, fresher and as a result, more nutrient dense. It’s also an increasingly integral part of the food industry’s strategies and will become part of our everyday thinking when it comes to what we choose to eat. 

Explore more content like this in our series, Ask a Dietitian.

Health & Performance Collective is the brainchild of Sydney Dietitians Jessica Spendlove and Chloe McLeod. They use their 20 years of combined knowledge and skills as dietitians to work with motivated people to live and perform at their best.

If you like this, a dietitian has ranked the most popular coffee orders from healthiest to least healthy. Find out how your favourite order ranks.

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