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In 2016, consumers are putting away the Advil and picking up the cookbooks.
As functional eating becomes a popular approach to wellness, a health-seeker’s
food is becoming more than just fuel — it’s medicine.
It all started with heart health. For years, Cheerios and Quaker Oats have been touting the cholesterol-lowering benefits of their products. Today, people are more informed than ever
about what they put in their bodies, incorporating more mindful eating into their lives — as opposed to popping pills to solve their medical problems. This trend doesn’t just apply to
food. As Google Trends wrote in it’s recent article “The Rise of Functional Foods”, brands across categories are “healthifying” products by including functional ingredients (turmeric face
mask, anyone?). It references products like OGX’s Nourishing Coconut Milk Shampoo and Freeman’s Apple Cider Vinegar 4-in-1 Foaming Clay, which are clearly capitalizing on trendy
ingredients. In this issue of Food+Thought, we explore some other ways in which this is playing out in the marketing world.
how to eat to...
keep your skin clear
Wonder why you’re seeing so many brands that tout ingredients like kale and sweet potatoes?
It might be because of their skin-clearing properties! Instead of heading straight for topical
acne creams and harsh medications like Accutane, consumers are avoiding sugar, dairy,
and gluten and looking for natural skincare products. For example, the brand claims to heal
skin by incorporating real fruits and vegetables into its products. Its various food-based product
lines include Yes to Carrots, Yes to Blueberries, Yes to Grapefruit and more.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY GUT
“Going with your gut” is taking on a whole new meaning in 2016. As new research makes
its way into the public eye, nutrition experts are focusing more and more on the gut
microbiome—a.k.a. the little world of bacteria living in your intestines. Adding bacteria
in the form of probiotics keeps the gut healthy and diverse. Some brands take an almost
spiritual approach to gut health. The founder of popular kombucha brand GT says on its
website that its mission is “to combine the wisdom of ancient medicinal foods with the
resources of the modern day to create products that uplift and enlighten the health of
all those who enjoy them.”
reduce chronic infLammation
Chronic inflammation has been associated with a whole host of medical problems,
from arthritis to cancer. Proponents of anti-inflammatory diets claim that you can
“heal yourself with food.” According to their personal chef, superstar quarterback Tom Brady
and his wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, avoid tomatoes because of their inflammatory
properties. You too can eat like Tom and Gisele using their new cookbook —
all for the low, low price of $200!
reduce joint pain
The conditions associated with arthritis include joint inflammation and stiffness
of the bones. The key to managing pain associated with arthritis is to reduce the
potential for joint inflammation, strengthen bones and boost the immune system.
The Yogi tea brand, known for its functional teas, offers a product that is specifically
geared toward joint pain (with a tiny asterisk clarifying that these statements have
not been evaluated by the FDA): “Naturally Decaffeinated Organic Green Tea joins
Organic Turmeric Root, used in Ayurveda to promote joint health, and Yucca Root,
traditionally used by Native Americans to help support the joints.”
Elimination diets treat food as both the evil and the cure. Predicated on the idea that reactions to foods or food additives are causing the body to have problems — fatigue, aches and
pains, inability to lose weight, skin issues, and fertility challenges, among others — these diets aim to eliminate these problems by stripping all the potential offenders from the diet. One
such diet, the popular Whole30, has adherents remove all sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol and legumes for 30 days in order to “press reset” on their systems. The movement has grown to be
much more than a diet, with several branded cookbooks and a massive social media following.
The elimination trend isn’t just for diets. As we’ve mentioned in previous issues, food brands like Panera and General Mills are getting rid of artificial ingredients, but other categories
are embracing the “less is more” trend as well. For example, indie beauty brand Little Barn Apothecary never puts more than 10 ingredients into any one of its products!
Sugar is the New Cholesterol
It seems like just yesterday that we weren’t supposed to eat
egg yolks. And remember when the food pyramid wanted us
to eat bread, bread and more bread? In 2016, refined sugar
is the enemy. A new line from LUNA promises that each bar
contains five grams of sugar or less, and the brand is using the
tagline “You don’t have to be sweet to be good” to promote it.
The FDA just announced that its going to release a new set of
guidelines on what “healthy” means, prompted by pushback
from the brand KIND after its products were denied the
“healthy” stamp of approval. In preparation for that report,
let’s take a look at what foods have been demonized in the past.
We can’t help but wonder…what will we swear off next?
High-fructose corn syrup
Clean eating, cleansing, detoxing…if you’re at all familiar with the Hollywood lifestyle, those words aren’t foreign to you.
Over the past few years, the idea of needing to “detox” from the poisonous environment in which we live in has become
more and more popular with the celebrity crowd. But in 2016, we’re seeing an evolution of the cleanse.
The newest crop of cleanses — tea detoxes — assure consumers that they can cleanse without changing their diet. These
so-called “teatoxes” promise dieters a flat stomach in a matter of days! But in reality, they often contain mild (and
sometimes not-so-mild) diuretics that temporarily flatten bellies by getting rid of water weight. Despite the lack of scientific
support, these products get easy publicity by paying celebrities such as the Kardashians and former Bachelor contestants
to promote them on their social media accounts.
They may not have any real benefits, but they sure have fun names: Bootea, SkinnyMint Teatox, NudeyTea…the list goes on and on.
On the less gimmicky (and more scientifically based) end of the spectrum, consumers are taking on challenges to get
rid of sugar. Diane Sanfilippo’s book The 21-Day Sugar Detox sparked this movement several years ago, but short-term
challenges are documented all over the internet. This May, Refinery29’s lifestyle host Lucie Fink attempted five days
without sugar as part of her “Try Living with Lucie” video series. Surviving such a challenge is more than just a healthy
choice — it’s a badge of honor.