It’s hard to resist – that pressure tomake your new year, healthy-eatingresolutions as the calendar flipsover. And why not, with health andwellbeing manufacturers falling overthemselves to provide new productsthat can help? ‘Some trends, such as plant-based diets and protein snacks, continue togrow,’ says dietician Dr Carrie Ruxton, freshfrom her visit to the Food Matters expo, whichshowcases the latest nutrition trends. ‘Andwhen it comes to supplements, there’s aconstant stream of innovative ways to nourishand fuel your body.’ Here’s our pick of thesmartest nutrition trends for the year ahead.
Just over a decade ago, beingvegan was still a pretty nichepursuit. But over the past 10 years,the number of UK vegans has grownby 360 per cent. One per cent of thepopulation – 542,000 of us – avoidsall food derived from animals, with 42per cent of those being aged 15 to 34.Cutting out all animal produce meansyou have to find other sources of vitaminsB12 and D, iron, zinc, selenium, omega-3fats and, of course, protein (more atvegansociety.com). Fortunately, you cannow step into any health-food shop – oreven supermarket – and find a wholeraft of vegan protein bars, protein balls,supercharged smoothies and, increasingly,protein powders containing pea proteinand the like, instead of whey.
.MissFits Nutrition Vegan Protein Multitasker (£18 for 12 x 25g sachets; missfitsnutrition.com) is made from pea protein and comes in single-portion sachets, handy for work or the gym, and is made with extra nutrients such as vitamin B12 and zinc to support women’s health.
.Healthista Lean Vegan Protein Powder (£24.99 for 500g, healthista.com contains pea, rice, hemp and sunflower seeds as the protein source. Mix with a milk substitute for a meal replacement or snack.
.Rejuvenation Water (£22.99 for 12; rejuvenationwater.co.uk) delivers aminoacids – the building blocks of protein (theseones from fermented corn glucose) – in a bottle of naturally flavoured, low-sugar, caffeine-free water – ideal post-gym.
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These days, you can findcharcoal in ready-madedrinks, in filters to detoxify your water,in foods such as bread, or as tabletsto chew. It’s not the charcoal used inbarbecues, but a form made fromcoconut shells or other natural sources.In trendy London hangouts you’ll evenfind it in pizza bases, burger buns andcocktails. But why is the black stuffsuddenly so popular?‘Traditionally, charcoal is a remedy forflatulence,’ says nutritional therapistIan Marber. ‘The idea is the charcoalabsorbs excess gas and unwantedbacteria from the digestive tract, helpingwith bloating and wind. Tablets orpowder may work if you have thosesymptoms – don’t take within two hoursof other medications or supplementsas it may reduce their absorption.
Try Lifeplan WindAway ActivatedCharcoal (£3.99 for 30 capsules;lifeplan.co.uk).Activated charcoal works becausecompounds bind to its surface and passout of the body without being absorbed.Indeed, it’s licensed for use in drugoverdoses and can be taken for foodpoisoning. The powder can be usedto whiten teeth and it’s an ingredientin some toothpastes or cosmeticproducts, such as Polished Charcoal Whitening Powder (£20.99 for 30g;polished whitening.com), or ProcoalActivated Charcoal Teeth WhiteningPowder (£9.99 for 60ml; procoal.co.uk). And M&S regularly sells out ofNatura Siberica’s Northern Soap forDeep Facial Cleansing (£12 for120ml;marksandspencer.com).It’s also a part of many water-filtersystems, from integrated tap filtersto jugs or bottles, where it removesfluoride and chlorine. Fans say itprevents hangovers and can lowercholesterol, or is useful as part of adetox, but Marber is sceptical. ‘I don’tthink it’s possible to add enough tofood to make a real difference to yourdigestion, for example,’ he says. ‘Andwe don’t need to “detox” our bodies.’
Whether it’s turningvegan, or simplycutting down your intake ofanimal products, there’s nodoubting plant-based dietshave gone mainstream.Vegetarian and veganrestaurants are springing upeverywhere, attracting a newaudience to what was onceseen as a joyless lifestyle witha new style of ‘hedonistichealth food’. For example,when Pret a Manger turnedone of its London branchesinto a vegetarian-only outlet,called Veggie Pret, it saw a 100 percent uplift in sales. Although 50 per centof its customers still eat meat, they are‘balance seekers’, peole who’re movingtowards a more plant-based diet.Balance seekers have the right idea: ‘It’sadvisable to change to a vegan or vegetarian dietgradually if you’re going to do it,’ says Alison Cullennutritionist with A. Vogel (avogel.com) and a veganherself. ‘We could all do with eating fewer animalproducts, for the environment and ourhealth.’ And if and when you do eatmeat, choose wisely. ‘The bestenvironmental choice is to go forBritish, grass-fed, ethicallyfarmed meat,’ says Ruxton.
If you’re a fitness fan who wants to up your intake of protein, there are a lotmore options these days. ‘A sedentary person needs about 40-50g protein aday, but if you’re very active, that increases to 1-1.8g per kg of bodyweight,’says Ruxton. ‘So you might need 60-80g a day. Protein is best spaced throughout theday, but we tend to get most of our intake at dinner. Protein snacks and drinks are a goodway for someone who does a lot of endurance or resistance training to take more onboard earlier in the day. ‘The trouble is, most proteins come as powders to mix into ashake and these can be unpalatable or get boring,’ she says. Not a fan of milky drinks, orfaffing around with powders and scoops? Try Vieve (£14.99 for 6x500ml; drink-vieve.co.uk), a naturally flavoured electrolyte water that’s sugar-, carb-, lactose- and fat-free,but delivers 20g protein per bottle, using collagen and whey as the source. There’s alsoCoco Pro (£2.75 for 330ml; healthista.com), which combines naturally isotonic coconutwater with whey protein for muscle recovery, to make a healthier post-workout drink. AndProtein Water Skin Maintenance (£2.35 for 500ml; proteinwater.co), which provideshydrolysed collagen protein (10g) to support healthy hair, skin, nails and joints, plusimproved sleep and metabolism.
We all know howimportant sleep is forour bodies to repair and restore.And now nutrition products arebeing created to enhance thisprocess. If you’ve used proteinshakes for performance, you mayhave come across products basedon casein (rather than whey),designed to be taken at night.‘Because casein digests slowly inthe body, it’s ideal for increasingprotein synthesis and musclerepair at night,’ says Ruxton.US sports nutrition companyGatorade is using this scienceto develop a nighttime yoghurtsnack. But until UK manufacturersfollow suit, you can get the samebenefits with a pre-bed snack ofGreek yoghurt, cottage cheese(both rich in casein), or peanutbutter (a similarly slow-releaseplant-based protein source).Indeed, the night-nutritiontrend sees all sorts of productslaunching – from beauty boostersto morning energy enhancers –made to be taken just before wenod off. Trend forecaster Stylushas dubbed the trend ‘SleepEats’, while others call it ‘CleanSleeping’. Gimmick? Perhaps.‘There’s nothing evidence-basedto suggest your body absorbsnutrients better at night,’ saysRuxton. ‘The best advice is to takesupplements when you remember– it’s consistency that’s key.’So while there’s no harm poppingpills before bed, perhaps it’s agood way to remind us to prioritisesleep and all its restorativebenefits. Here are some sleepeats we like the sound of.
Healthista Night Food(£18.95 for 200g; revital.co.uk). Anantioxidant blend with balancingnutrients and herbs, includingchamomile, cinnamon and ginger.
MyProtein Active WomanBeauty Sleep capsules (£9.99for 60 capsules; myprotein.com).Contains lemon balm andchamomile for a calming sleep,magnesium to relax muscles andreduce fatigue and zinc for a hair,nails and skin boost.
MyProtein Bedtime Extreme(£19.99 for 1kg powder;myprotein.com). A casein powderfor sustained release of 45gprotein overnight, with addedglutamine, magnesium and zinc.
Benenox Overnight Recharge(£12.49 for 135ml, Tesco andamazon.co.uk). Honey, Sustamine(a combination of two aminoacids) and vitamin B6 supplementyour body’s stored energy levelsovernight and release glucoseslowly to support sleep, leave youraring to go the next morning. Thelatter claim held true for 64 percent of participants in a consumertrial of 140 people.