Top Trends for Natural Living in 2015

Top Trends for Natural Living in 2015

A new year means new and exciting approaches to natural health.  The key trends shaking up the market this year are:

1)      New and interesting oils offering health benefits

2)      Natural health products with a focus on digestion

3)      Fermentation goes mainstream

4)      Pumpkin – not just for autumn decor

5)      Product Certifications – Organic and GMO-free

Read on to get a head start on the health curve this year.

#1 – Taking oil beyond the olive tree: Avocado and Camelina oils offer new flavours and unique health benefits

The war on fat has taken a crucial turn and Canadians increasingly appreciate the role that certain healthy fats play in boosting our health. In 2015 consumers can expect to see a growing number of healthy oil options taking Canada by storm.

Olive oil, long touted as the miracle oil of the Mediterranean Diet, now has company.  Not only do these emerging oils provide a health kick, but they also mix things up in the kitchen; adding diversity and extra flavour to sauces, dressings and marinades.

Over the past year, coconut oil has raised its profile enormously.  The popularity of this tropical ingredient will continue to expand with more diverse products, but it’s in the liquid oil category where we are excited to see new and trendy products.

Avocado oil is about to get a lot more attention.  Avocados are already touted for their healthy fats, but the extracted oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and Vitamin E, which are nutrients crucial for healthy, radiant skin.  Refined avocado oil is also excellent for cooking or sautéing.  Many healthy oils have a low smoke point, which means the healthy fats in the oil break down at higher temperatures – not avocado oil. This clean, slightly nutty oil will can withstand temperatures as high at 520F, making it easier to cook with than olive oil or other vegetable oils.

Camelina oil is another “trending” oil rich in mono- and poly-unsaturated fats with a high proportion of heart-healthy omega-3s (as high as 45 per cent!).  It is an ancient grain and oil-seed prized for its nutty and fresh taste, healthy properties and heat resistant traits.  Natural antioxidants, including Vitamin E, give camelina oil a longer shelf life than olive oil or other vegetable oils.

Other oils to keep an eye on include flaxseed oil, walnut oil and almond oil, all of which provide variety and new flavours to experience in the kitchen.

No discussion of oils would be complete without a mention of omega-3s.  New innovations in the field of supplemental omega-3s have led to higher concentrations and enhanced flavours of the integral “EPA” and “DHA”; long chain fats from marine sources.  The omega-3 supplement category is one of the fastest growing sectors in the natural health industry, and it will continue to grow throughout 2015.

#2 – Trending Natural Health Products – a focus on digestion

Leaky gut… It’s a nasty name and although this concept, officially termed “intestinal permeability” is still in its infancy, it’s quickly becoming a health buzz word with implications ranging from our digestive to brain health.

Our digestive tracts are normally good at treading the fine line between allowing the good stuff to be absorbed, including nutrients like vitamins and minerals, while keeping the bad stuff, like toxins out.  However, when the balance of good and bad bacteria is off, the absorption of good and bad substances can also be disrupted.

In 2015 consumers can expect to see new natural health products focused on supporting the health of the digestive tract.

L-glutamine is a natural health product that has shown some benefit for intestinal health. This amino acid gets called upon as a crucial building block for proteins, but it is when our bodies are injured, either physically by trauma (including exercise), or devastated by illness, that L-glutamine is called into action. It plays a crucial role in strengthening the connections between our intestinal cells, helping to repair damage to the gut wall, and reducing ‘leaky gut’ symptoms.

Probiotics also play an integral role in strengthening the interior of our intestines. These good gut-bugs are being linked to health benefits including digestive and intestinal health, mental health, skin health and weight maintenance, among other benefits. A growing body of research is currently exploring the essential relationship between a healthy gut and a strong immune system, making a probiotic supplement even more important in the winter months, when our bodies are ravaged by germs.

Supporting intestinal health can also come by feeding the good gut bacteria already present in our bodies. There is nothing that good gut bacteria like more than fibre.  Our bodies can’t break down dietary fibre, but probiotics possess the required machinery to digest fibres to grow and thrive. As innovation in this field accelerates, a wider variety of fibres are becoming available in local health food retailers, including soluble and insoluble fibres, specially formulated to support intestinal health.

The growing variety of natural health products available to support digestive health is an important trend this year, as more and more Canadians will be “trusting their gut” when trying new options.

 #3 – Fermentation

The trend of supporting digestion and immunity is also extending to fermented foods, which are no longer limited to last year’s trendy kimchi, tempeh and sauerkraut.

This year, natural health lovers will begin to find a wider variety of new foods in different fermented forms.

One of the benefits of these foods is that the fermentation process can liberate nutrients normally trapped in chemical bonds. This helps us to access and absorb more of the healthful nutrients in our food, including phytonutrients, some amino acids, B-vitamins and some minerals like zinc and magnesium. The process of fermentation can also increase anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in foods.

One of the more widely available fermented ingredients found in foods and natural health products is fermented rice bran, or “Oryza sativa”.  It is a byproduct of rice production, but it is rich in dietary fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. A recent study found that taking a fermented rice bran supplement increased the activity of hormones of the immune system without side effects.

In 2015 consumers will find these ingredients showing up in a wide variety of supplements including protein bars, shake powders and capsules. Other classic fermented foods, including various types of pickles, yogurt (including dairy-free options like coconut yogurt), sauerkraut, cheeses and miso, will continue to grow in popularity into the New Year.

#4 –Pumpkin

Experts at the Canadian Health Food Association trade show were in agreement that there is a new superfood to look out for in 2015: pumpkin. Pumpkin flesh is rich in nutrients including beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A; crucial for healthy reproduction, immune system support, and vision. 

Pumpkin seed oil is receiving increasing attention from scientists, health gurus and foodies alike for its healthful properties. Now becoming more widely available as a purified and encapsulated natural health product, the profile of fats present in pumpkin seed oil show the most benefits for urinary and reproductive health in men. In particular, men who suffer from benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate, who often experience frequent daytime and night time urination. Pumpkin seed oil has shown promising results in a number of preliminary clinical trials at easing these symptoms.

In 2015 pumpkin seeds will also become more than just a post-Jack-o-Lantern-carving treat. Officially called “pepitas”, these delicious seeds are rich in B vitamins, vitamin E and essential fatty acids. They’re also a good source of minerals including magnesium and zinc; two key minerals inadequately consumed by Canadians.

For women, nutrient-rich pumpkin seeds provide building blocks for hormones, activate reproductive organs, and increase fluid secretions.

# 5 – Product Certifications (Non-GMO Project Verified and Certified Organic)

There is an increase in consumers’ desire to know where their food comes from and if it has been genetically modified. Canadians consistently support labelling of foods containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), citing consumers’ right to know where food comes from and the impact its production has on the environment. While the debate surrounding GMO foods continues, suppliers are increasingly stepping up to the plate and offering certified organic products, which is an assurance that foods are produced without the use of GMOs. This trend will continue throughout 2015 in response to consumers’ demand to know what is in their food, and increased labelling activism in Canada.

The key certification to look for on foods is the “Canada Organic” logo; a clear indication that a product has been certified organic. In order to obtain an organic certification, products must go through a stringent review process and demonstrate that the ingredients used are sourced from certified organic sources and do not contain any GMOs. When buying organic foods, Canadians are investing in their health and supporting sustainable, environmentally friendly agricultural practices and animal welfare.

Another certification gaining ground is the “Non-GMO Project Verified” designation. This rigorous verification process is specific to the inclusion of GMO ingredients in products, carefully reviewing the source of each potentially genetically modified ingredient in a product.

As the trend toward general health and wellness increases across Canada, consumers are becoming more educated about new and innovative ways to optimize their health. This year, they can expect to see exciting innovations and new research showing the health benefits of unique health foods popping up in natural health food stores across the country.

For more information on this year’s natural health trends and other healthy lifestyle tips, visit chfa.ca

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