Every year, except last, I've loved writing the "it" health products/trends/foods for the following year and looking back at what started picking up the year that's ending. Last December, I just could't make it happen, but I'm back at it! I hope you enjoy
Have you noticed how this lovely colored root has been appearing in all textures, presentations and varieties in the market? Chips, kombucha, lattes, puffs, vegetable powders, juices, baby food, dog food, Lara bars, fermented jars, are only a few. Beets are great for oxygenating the blood, are a wonderful source of energy, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and are good for liver detoxification. But don't be fooled by "beet sugar," which is just plain old sugar, with the downside that most sugar beets cultivated are GMO.
You can thank Paleo followers (and obviously Latin American cuisine) for making plantains more popular. You've probably already seen them crowding the chip shelves in your favorite health food store, but plantains are also turned into flour and used for baking. Just wait and see, they will soon appear in a recipe in front of you! Cooked and pureed or roasted, plantains are a grain free alternative for starchy food. Plantains are a great source of resistant starch, which is a starch that we don't digest, but that our beneficial colon bacteria love, so it acts as a prebiotic.
I'm a huge fan of cordyceps, reishi, chaga, lion's mane, and shiitake mushrooms. They all have different properties. Some are good for stimulating the immune system, while others are more nourishing for our body or strengthening our mind. The Four Sigmatic company has grown considerably in the last year and has been brining its products (medicinal mushroom-spiked coffee, hot chocolate or "elixir" powders in individual size packages) into the mainstream market. I like their hot cocoa-cordyceps blend, but I'm a bigger fan of the plain powdered mushrooms, so I can add them to whatever I want. They don't have a strong flavor nor an unpleasant consistency. There are some great brands out there, such as Sun Potion or lesser known ones like Health Ranger Select (at amazon.com). If you are purchasing, make sure they are organic certified and produced in the U.S. (aka not China). There are some great blends that come in capsules. If you have any health conditions, please ask your doctor before taking them.
- Biohacking food: Adaptogens & Co.
Dave Asprey, the mastermind behind Bulletproof coffee, diet, and radio has made it his goal to figure out how to upgrade mind and body. He's come up with very interesting research, products and other hacks that are worth noticing (I'm not endorsing anything, but he's definitely someone worth listening to if you are into wellness). By now, many food companies have taken the cue and are also selling us functional everyday foods using biohacking ingredients, and are starting to sprinkle probiotics and adaptogens into their junk food.
Adaptogens are a group of medicinal (I would even call them magical!) herbs that help us cope with stress, give us a sense of well-being, improve our immune and/or endocrine systems, and can make us feel more energized. Ashwagandha, tulsi (holy basil), maca, rhodiola, schizandra, shatavari, eleuthero and medicinal mushrooms are some of the adaptogenic plants. I loved them and find them incredibly effective, however, they have to be taken with caution, under supervision, and I would not recommend children to consume them, especially maca root. The effective dose of adaptogens vary individually, so it's much better to consume them in a way in which you can control how much you are taking. In my opinion, all those granolas, cereals, and snacks that have adaptogens can be skipped.
As you probably already know, our microbiome (gut microorganisms) is responsible for a huge part of our health. Happy bugs make for a happy you! If you suffer from hormonal imbalance--as I did for many years (PM if you want to discuss!)--your gut bacteria, yeast and other tiny friends may have to do with that. The estrobolome is a group of bacteria responsible for helping our body metabolize and get rid of used up estrogen. If we don't have a balanced microbiome, and our estrobolome can't do its job properly, we might suffer from estrogen dominance, which is no fun! There're still a lot of unknowns in the microbiome world, but eating tons and a great variety of fibrous plants has been one of the most consistent pointers. These fibers feed the good bacteria, and this food are the "prebiotics." So one more reason to eat plenty of plant rainbows!
It used to be very difficult (we had to look all the way into amazon.com!!!) to find pasta made of beans, lentils or chickpeas, and it was even harder to find a tasty one! Now the pasta aisles are covered with a bunch of black, green, yellow and orange pasta varieties made of legumes and/or legume-grain-pseudo grain blends, and an bunch of them are delicious. They are higher in protein and fiber than regular pasta, which is great news, but do know that they are not a low carb food. They are best when served freshly cooked, as when they cool down, they become gooey, sticky and unpleasant. Look for the ones that list only ingredients that you can picture in your head and have no additives.
- Making Life Sweet with Monk Fruit
Although many health experts I respect and admire are enthusiastic about monk fruit extract as a "healthy" sweetener, I rather be cautious. What makes me suspicious about monk fruit is that it comes from China, where transparency and honesty in food production and quality isn't always trustworthy. The Chinese government forbids monk fruit and its genetic material from leaving the country, and the fruit must be grown and manufactured in China. I might be paranoid, and I'm not saying that I will never consume it, but I'm definitely not using it on a daily basis.
We usually take our vitamins, minerals and other remedies orally, injected, sprayed, topically and intravenously. The newest trend in town? Inhaling them!
Companies like NutroVape and Vitaminvape are selling vitamin B complex and B12 inhalers and they claim the absorption is hundreds of times more effective than when taken in other forms. The companies also offer blends of supplements under different benefit claims, such as "recover," "focus," "energy," "relax," "sleep," and obviously "diet" aids that have supplements such as milk thistle, green tea, CoQ10, glutathione, caffeine, turmeric, and melatonin, among others. Some companies are using a similar technology/packaging for essential oils and aromatic spices/herbs.
I guess we'll never get rid of our oral fixations, and with this products we get to satisfy them and feel good about taking our supplements. I'm afraid some blends might be too stimulating or even ineffective, but the B complex sounds good to me, as some people have a hard time absorbing/metabolizing these vitamins. All I can say is that Dr. Freud would be very proud!
I'm very much looking forward to see what Jeff Bezos has in store for us with the Whole Foods Market acquisition. No predictions or opinions here, I'm just waiting and hoping, and since amazon already knows exactly what, how, when and why I consume everything, and has all my payment options recorded, I might be able to do my organic food shopping telepathically.
It used to be that fiber-rich food was thought to be the feed of choice of the Birkenstock-wearing, no shower-needed, hippie crowd only. And while every single expert has been recommending us to increase our fiber consumption in order to improve our health, we weren't interested. If we obeyed, it was always with a "yuck" face. Then came Tanya Zuckerbrot with all her gorgeousness, and turned fiber into the "it" fancy nutrient (actually, not a nutrient, because our bodies don't absorb it) showing us how she takes it everywhere in designer, monogramed bags, and by creating a social media community where the adherents to the f-factor diet can share recipes, photos, love, success stories, and feel empowered through their wheat bran GG crackers, fiber is finally in! Although I have a different approach to nourishment than Tanya; her impact in the way we are now thinking of fiber in NYC (and I'm sure soon nationwide) is undeniable and to be applauded. And that sense of community she has created brings me to the last, and most important of all trends.
Even better than eating all your fiber, working out consistently, inhaling vitamins and feeding your estrobolome, it's been now shown that love ends up trumping all when it comes to wellness. The Harvard Happiness Study has found that "close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives... Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes." That product isn't sold at amazon, nor Whole Foods, it requires hard work, but investing in connecting deeply with others is the best investment we can make.
With this recipe you'll use trendy beets, add fiber, probiotics and biohacking spices into your day. Most importantly, you can share it with others, and it's so tasty that you'll connect to a "dip" level with those who taste it!