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Review of top trendy diets
The growing popularity of gluten-free products, mini-meals and mainstream veganism rank among the top five health trends expected to make headlines in 2013, according to the second annual forecast by a national research group that studies health-related attitudes and behavior in America.
The Values Institute at DGWB, a Santa Ana research entity, released the top health and wellness trends earlier this month.
The trends are different from those popular last year, as people now begin to shy away from costly high-energy drinks and technology-based health trends, which forecasters say is largely due to people having less discretionary cash to spend.
In fact, the growth of food waste consciousness is the first of the top five consumer health trends for 2013, according to the forecast.
A recent Eco Pulse survey found 39 percent of Americans feel guilty about trashing food, more so than any other environmental sin.
The growing trend in waste consciousness has grocery stores and restaurants looking at ways to turn waste into electricity, and companies like Starbucks working to turn baked good and coffee grounds into usable products like laundry soap.
Of course, "techies" are still likely to embrace new mobile apps like Love Food Hate Waste that helps consumers plan meals from leftovers and manage portion size, according to Consumer Reports.
Wellness in the workplace is also a growing trend predicted for 2013.
With healthcare costs expected to rise by 7 percent, companies will look to improve employee health and minimize healthcare expenditures by establishing wellness programs.
Consumer Reports say people should expect to see more employee discounted gym memberships, group Weight Watchers accountability plans and active design workspaces this year as companies find a way to get workers involved in wellness in 2013.
The remaining trends deal with the way people will likely eat in 2013.
Rounding up the top five health includes the more toward snacking or 'mini-meals' as opposed to three balanced meals, more people embracing meatless eating or outright veganism and the increase demand for gluten-free products.
Although Values Institute measures what trends people will likely embrace, not everyone agrees they are trends people should embrace.
Nutritionist Missy Beavers, owner of the Health Habit in Willows, has seen a large amount of research done on diets that encourage eating every two to three hours compared to those that promote only three balanced meals a day.
The concept behind mini-meals is to eat frequently to keep the blood sugar regulated, she said.
"This is needed if the mini meals are comprised of cheap carbohydrate fuel sources because the sugar from the meal will burn quickly resulting in hunger within a few hours," Beavers said. "It is typical with the standard American diet to eat carbohydrate loaded foods at every meal. We have been trained to believe that we cannot function without our oatmeal and toast in the morning when these foods are the reason we are hungry at 10 a.m."
Beavers does not subscribe to this style of eating.
Nor does she recommend giving up meat entirely.
Instead, Beavers said she is a huge promoter of "Paleo" or primal lifestyle way of eating.
"This style of eating is based on the theory that we evolved to eat foods that come from the earth," Beavers said. "Carbohydrate-laden foods and 'frankenfoods' that are created in a laboratory are damaging to the body and cause blood sugar irregularities that can lead to diabetes, obesity and a wide spread inflammation. Inflammation can manifest itself in arthritis and joint pain, leading to wide spread pain in the body."
Although it has been around for many years, the Paleolithic diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts.
It excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar and processed oils.
Although the hip in Hollywood embrace veganism as a viable health alternative, and a good way to lose weight, Beavers said meat is not to blame for obesity or poor health, but the type of meat that is consumed by most Americans.
"Research has shown that meat raised on soy-based feed with the use of hormones and antibiotics has a different fat profile that grass-fed beef," she said. "Excess chemicals and hormones get stored in the fat of these animals, and we consume it when we eat their meat."
She also believes the trend of meatless Mondays is more of a political or social movement than it is a movement to improve health.
"A better movement would be grass-fed beef Monday, in which one day of the week is set aside to consume meat with a healthy fat and protein profile," Beavers said.
Beavers said Glenn County residents are lucky that grass-fed products are readily available.
The Divide Ranch in Elk Creek, for example, raises grass-fed beef that is then package and sold at the Health Habit and the local farmers markets.
The fifth trend people are likely to embrace in 2013 is going completely against the grain of the way people have eaten the past 100 years.
This past year saw an influx of gluten-free products as everyone began shunning wheat flour and cereals.
According to Consumer Reports, gluten has joined carbohydrates and corn syrup as the newest ingredient Americans love to leave out.
While some experts see this as self-diagnosis gone awry, consumers increasingly see gluten-free as a guide to healthier eating, prompting the food industry to take advantage of this new, not-so-niche need.
"Gluten, which is the protein in wheat, oats, barley and rye is especially difficult to digest," said Beavers. "Celiac disease is a disorder in which the body is incapable of digesting gluten at all."
Beavers said 10 years ago, it was estimated that 1 in 266 people had the disease.
"Today the rate has jumped to 1 in 100," she said. "Critics have speculated that the spike in numbers is due to the fact that doctors are more aware of the disease and are testing for it now. This may hold some truth, but one must also factor in that in the past 10 years, food manufacturing has changed."
Beavers said gluten now masquerades in many different forms and is found as an additive in many processed foods that used to be naturally gluten free.
"People with celiac disease must carefully read labels to avoid these hidden glutens," she said.
But Beavers also recognizes that people who aren't diagnosed with the disease are finding marked improvements in health by removing gluten from their diet.
"I have seen major improvements in many of my clients who have chosen to eat gluten free," she said. "There have been improvements in joint pain, arthritis, energy levels and brain function. I had one client with ulcerative colitis who began eating gluten free and noticed a reversal of all of her symptoms in just one day."
She also believes a positive side effect to eating gluten free is that weight loss can occur, because weight is a symptom of systemic inflammation.
"As the inflammation improves, the number on the scale will decrease," she said.
But Beavers cautions people not to make the biggest mistake by thinking a gluten-free diet assumes that those foods are also calorie-free or can be eaten in any quantity.
"A gluten free cookie is still a cookie and should be eaten in moderation," she said.
Beavers has a wide selection of gluten-free foods available at the Health Habit, and she encourages anyone who has chronic inflammation or gut imbalance to try this style of eating for three weeks to see how they feel.
She also recommends taking it one step further.
"If you are feeling extra motivated in 2013, I would encourage you to move a step beyond gluten-free and eliminate grains all together," she said.
Again, Beavers recommends the Paleo diet, which is completely grain free.
"This diet will reduce inflammation, promote weight loss and improve heart and brain function," she said. "With the growing trends of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer, it is time we start looking at our food system for answers. 2013 is the year to assess your diet and start asking about the quality of our food supply.