With the new year right around the corner, you may be brainstorming resolutions to make, from eating healthier to working out more (or at all). A great place to start is to look at nutrition trends for 2022. Perhaps you’re already familiar with some that continued to take 2021 by storm, from mushroom coffee to plant-based supplements you can blend into your morning smoothie. There are also a lot of celebrity-owned wellness brands to look to for inspiration. For instance, Kate Hudson’s InBloom is made up of 100% plant-based supplements, like nutritional powders and proteins, while Lo Bosworth’s Love Wellness promotes various vitamin supplements and immune-boosting health kits. But how do you know what to put on your health radar for 2022 when it comes to nutrition?
“After almost two years living in a pandemic, it’s no surprise individuals are more interested in different ways to boost their immune system,” Naria Le Mire, registered dietitian and founder of Naria Le Mire Nutrition LLC, tells TZR in an email. “Overall, supporting a healthy immune system includes not only dietary considerations but also mindful practices, such as stress management and adequate sleep.” Ahead, check out 2022 nutrition trends touted by Le Mire and other experts so you can start out the new year on the healthiest note possible.
Microbiome health has to do with your gut — and is trending among many nutrition experts. According to the National Institutes of Health, “The human microbiota consists of the 10 to 100 trillion symbiotic microbial cells harbored by each person, primarily bacteria in the gut; the human microbiome consists of the genes these cells harbor.” In other words, the microbiome is made up of microbes that are beneficial to the body — they do everything from stimulate the immune system to help break down potentially toxic food compounds. Yet they’re potentially harmful, too, which is where probiotics come into the picture (or digestive track, as it were). They can help restore the composition of the gut microbiome and help prevent things like gut inflammation.
If you’re not familiar with probiotics, they’re composed of natural, good live bacteria in your body. You may have your daily yogurt and think you’re getting enough probiotics, but you can also up your gut health with probiotic supplements. Ara Katz, co-founder and co-CEO of Seed, whose fans include several celebrities from Kerry Washington to Mindy Kaling to Sarah Jessica Parker, says “gut mania” is a real thing. “Every day, we see more and more ‘probiotic’ supplements, foods, and beverages (and shampoo and mattresses and well… you get it),” she tells TZR in an email. “But many people still don’t fully know what probiotics are, how they work, why they should take them, and why they are going to play an increasingly important role in our health in the coming years.”
Your body is complex and interconnected, and the gastrointestinal system sits at the core of it all, Katz explains. “So, while gut health benefits (think: better poops) are often the most immediate, specific strains of probiotics have been studied to have powerful effects across the entire body.” In addition to helping digestive health, it also has strains to support skin health, heart health, and gut immune function and gut barrier integrity, she says.
In addition, probiotics could help vaginal health, keeping your acid pH levels balanced, which helps fight off infections. For example, research has found that lactobacilli-containing vaginal probiotics can cure or prevent certain bacterial or fungal inflammation. Foods mentioned above — like yogurt — can help, too, or you can take probiotic pills targeted for vaginal health. Various ones are on the market, from Garden of Life Vaginal Care probiotics to the Vaginal Health Kit from Love Wellness, which contains Good Girl Probiotics that focuses on three key areas — reproductive health organs, the gut, and the immune system. “With advances in research, we now know that beneficial microbes (probiotics) also offer new tools to preventively and proactively care for our whole selves,” she adds.
Claudia le Feuvre, a nutritional therapist and eating psychology coach, is also the co-founder of Mighty Green, a company that makes CBD products. She, too, thinks microbiome health is a nutrition trend for 2022 and that fermented foods are key. “Fermented is still fabulous,” she tells TZR in an email. “Our love affair with fermented kombucha, kimchi, kefir [made from the fermented milk of a cow, goat, or sheep], etc., is here to stay. With so much emerging research dedicated to understanding our microbiomes — and their influence on our health and well-being — we will no doubt be even more focused on topping up our good bacteria.”
Dr. Daryl Gioffre, certified nutritionist, founder of Alkamind and author of Get Off Your Acid, agrees that gut health will definitely be a nutrition trend in 2022 that’s alive and well (no pun intended). “Eighty percent of your immune system lives in your gut,” he tells TZR in an email. “With that said, it’s no wonder that there has been a huge level of awareness in gut health. People will be consuming more foods that lower bloat and inflammation, improve digestion, and strengthen the health of the microbiome.”
Le Mire also recommends taking care of your immune system through what you eat. She says that, simply put, the bacteria that live in your gastrointestinal tract helps regulate the immune system. “A diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats should be followed to support a diverse gut microbiome, similar to the Mediterranean diet,” she explains. Both prebiotics — such as vegetables and fruits — and probiotics — such as yogurt and kefir — are great natural sources that aid in diversifying the gut microbiome.
Ryan Andrews, RD, principal nutritionist and adviser for Precision Nutrition, agrees that healthy eating will be on the up and up in 2022 — specifically, consuming more legumes. “While we’ve long neglected legumes in America (most adults only eat 7 pounds per year), I predict we’ll see more of them being consumed in 2022,” he tells TZR in an email. “Not only do legumes support our health, they are also tasty, affordable, eco-friendly, and fit into many food traditions. We are already seeing companies feature them in unique ways.”
Yes, instead of cooking chickpeas on the stove, you can find them as the base of several food products. Andrews says this includes everything from flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill Chickpea Flour, to snack foods, like Biena Chickpea Snacks, and pasta and pizza crusts by Banza. Chickpeas also have many health benefits — they’re high in fiber, iron, and protein. A 2-ounce serving of Banza chickpea pasta has 11 grams of protein, for instance, which is much higher than traditional flour-based pasta. And once you try it, you’ll see that the taste is not too different than wheat-based noodles.
“We all know what stress eating is — it’s our urge to soothe our bodies and our minds from the cravings we have with food,” says Gioffre, who wrote Get Off Your Sugar. “But here’s the problem: When we are under stress, and we stress eat, the first thing we reach for is the worst thing we reach for, and that’s comfort food — otherwise known as sugar.”
Sugar has literally snuck its way into our diets, he explains, and it’s hiding in so many foods we eat every day, especially during the holidays. “Comfort foods are loaded with sugar, and the reality is they don’t comfort us at all,” he says. “They may give you that instant gratification because of the dopamine hit you’re getting, but it increases the stress in your body because these foods loaded with sugar are highly acidic and lead to inflammation in our bodies. And the more sugar you eat, the more sugar you’re going to burn for energy. Therefore, the more sugar you’re going to crave. It literally becomes a vicious cycle, feeding the sugar addiction.”
And Gioffre’s trend prediction seems spot on, as more and more brands have been jumping on the no-sugar bandwagon and offering consumers alternative ways to satisfy their sweet cravings. You can choose a keto-friendly snack, like Keto Bars by Perfect Keto (which contain ingredients like organic almond butter, stevia, and collagen protein) or Smpl Enhanced Snack Bars (which are vitamin-infused, made from superfoods, and low natural sugar). Or you can opt for hard candy from Dr. John’s, which are sugar free and contain fiber. Whatever you choose, there are plenty of alternatives if you want the taste of a sugary snack without the sugar. You can also cook up your own sugary creations, of course, using products like coconut oil and agave instead of refined sugar.
Gioffre says since we are still living in the uncertainty of the pandemic, many are continually looking for better, healthier ways to boost immunity and energy. “With that said, many celebs — along with thousands of others — are adding liquid chlorophyll to their water,” he says. Everyone from Mandy Moore to Reese Witherspoon has been known to do so.
You probably learned about chlorophyll back in science class — it’s the pigment in plants that make them green. And it absorbs sunlight during photosynthesis, wherein plants absorb energy from the sun to create nutrients. “Chlorophyll is one of the most powerful neutralizers of acidity and inflammation, the primary cause of fatigue, sleep and digestive issues, and bad skin,” Gioffre explains. “I prefer dehydrated powders over liquid chlorophyll, or dissolvable tablets, as they don’t require any preservatives or chemicals to keep them shelf stable. Dehydrated green juice powders are harvested in their peak nutritional state and then dehydrated to remove the water. This naturally preserves the greens, so that when you add a scoop to water, just like a seed sprouting, the greens come back to life, delivering you the nutrients as powerful as the day they were harvested.
“Social media users are loving chlorophyll, too, because it’s fast-acting and addresses the root cause of why they are feeling or looking a certain way.” (A quick search reveals there are more than 400 million views with the “chlorophyll” hashtag on TikTok alone.) “The best part? It takes less than 30 seconds to drink and get into your system, making it an easy and cost-effective way to kick acid,” he adds.