To accurately pinpoint the 2022 predictions, Natural Grocers' Nutrition Education team, consisting of health and wellness experts ranging from Registered Dietitians to Certified Natural Foods Chefs, collaborated with the retailer's purchasing and analytics teams. Together, these specialists studied consumer-shopping preferences, pored over the latest research and assessed the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on communities to predict these rising and shifting trends.
"As we look back at another year in which our communities have felt the obvious and hidden effects of a global pandemic, there is no denying that people are changing how they approach their health," remarked Shelby Miller, M.S., Natural Grocers' manager of scientific affairs and nutrition education. "People are considering how their everyday choices affect their long-term health, and our trends for the coming year reflect how those decisions are intricately tied together to shape our well-being and our ability to thrive and flourish."
Natural Grocers' Top 10 Nutrition Trends for 2022 include healthspan, sensible indulgences, functional flavors, pet nutrition and saying goodbye to burnout. Read on for the full scoop.
From lifespan to healthspan
We all want a long lifespan, but what about healthspan, the years of life in which we are healthy and free of disease? While collectively we have been so focused on extending our lives, we have forgotten to prioritize making those years healthier. With a growing realization that healthspan is as important as lifespan, in 2022 we will focus not only on how long we can live, but also on how healthy we can live those years.
This will look like supporting health with diet, lifestyle and supplements not in mid- to late age, or only when a health issues arise, but throughout our lives. We can maintain good health at any age by modulating inflammation in the body, supporting healthy blood sugar balance, reducing free radicals, supporting immune resilience and maintaining liver health, a major, but often overlooked, cornerstone of health. 2022 will bring an increasing awareness of healthspan, as well as an increased demand for foundational supplements such as a multivitamin, B complex, magnesium, vitamins C, D and E, lecithin, milk thistle and lutein.
Supporting immunity becomes a daily practice
This trend is making an appearance on our list two years in a row because we're all getting on board with daily immune support and there's no looking back. We know that getting sick is inevitable, but we've also come to understand that by nourishing our immune system every day, even when we aren't sick, it will be primed and ready to go when the inevitable happens, making symptoms less severe and the duration shorter. In 2022 we will continue to give our immune system the nutrients it needs to function optimally—on a daily basis. Immune resilience is about training the immune system to always be at its peak performance, much like we would build muscles for fitness.
This daily strategy includes getting sufficient amounts of immune-building nutrients daily, including vitamin C, vitamin D and quercetin, but also demands that we improve our diets by reducing sugar and industrial seed oils such as corn, soy, and cottonseed, and stop being so sedentary to improve overall health and build immune resilience in the face of viruses as well as extend our healthspan. Throughout the pandemic, we have seen the role that comorbidities play in the severity of disease, and research has shown that people with poor liver health, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome have poorer outcomes.
This is why in 2022 we will work to support our immune systems on a daily basis while also going back to the basics of nutrition and physical activity to help eliminate or mitigate comorbidities, improve overall health, and increase immune resilience.
Pets get healthy, too
Pet ownership skyrocketed during the pandemic, and just as we took an increased interest in supporting our own health and wellness over the last two years, pet owners are now applying the same high standards when shopping for their furry friends. As pet owners become increasingly conscious pet parents, we'll see a continued increase in the demand for organic pet food and treats. Pet owners will also continue to demand food that's free from common allergens such as corn, soy and wheat and will seek out supplements that support anxiety, digestion and joint health.
Women and BIPOC-Owned health and wellness businesses will continue to shine
Women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) have always been an integral part of the entrepreneurial backbone of this country, and the health and wellness space is no different. This industry is growing exponentially, and with that growth, we will see more women and BIPOC-owned businesses bring their expertise, creativity and knowledge to the mix. In 2022 we will continue to highlight and support these businesses—which run the gamut from supplements to body care to natural foods.
It is estimated that air pollution leads to at least 7 million deaths worldwide every year. Exposure is associated with asthma and lung dysfunction, neurological damage, heart disease, cancer and all-cause mortality. Not to mention, it significantly reduces healthspan (see trend No. 1). We recognize air pollution as a serious health hazard, and now we are beginning to understand the importance of protecting our bodies from its negative health effects. We are also coming to realize that conventional agriculture is a major source of air pollution, and that our food choices can have an impact on improving air quality. Enter the idea of pollution nutrition.
In 2022 we will make it a priority to make food choices to minimize air pollution from agricultural sources such as CAFOs and conventionally farmed crops. This includes choosing regeneratively raised animal products and buying USDA Certified Organic products as often as possible. We will also prioritize fortifying our bodies against pollution by optimizing foundational nutrients including the omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, antioxidant vitamins C and E, as well as "super nutrients" such as sulfurophane, all of which have been shown to protect against the negative health effects of air pollution.
Healthy snacking and the rise of 'sensible indulgences'
The COVID-19 pandemic transformed snacking. Savory snacks, cookies and ice cream sales surged as we turned to snacks for comfort, but the pandemic also piqued our interest in finding snacks that feel indulgent, but are healthy. In 2022 we'll see the continued rise of what we're calling "sensible indulgences." We all deserve our favorite foods and treats here and there, so test out and refine your 2022 snacking game with indulgences that bring you joy while also maintaining your health and wellness goals.
Triumph over burnout
Treating the physical symptoms of long-haul COVID-19 has been a point of focus for scientists and physicians recently, but in the meantime many people are struggling with the emotional long-haul of living through a pandemic. As the pandemic and all that comes with it continues to drag on, many of us are in a state of languishing burnout. We're realizing that we can't run from the things that stress us, but we are learning that we can support our ability to handle the things that stress us and triumph over burnout!
Chronic stressors take a toll on mood and emotions, leading to feelings of depletion, exhaustion, irritability and cynicism. But in 2022 we're going to bounce back and come back stronger than ever. We'll see an increased demand for adaptogens such as rhodiola and cordyceps mushrooms and nutrients such as B1 (thiamin) and phosphatidylserine (PS) that help our bodies negate the harmful impact of stress. These nutrients have been shown to boost motivation, support energy and decrease fatigue while helping us flourish even when we experience stress. The stressors will always be there, but they won't have such a grip and we'll generally feel calmer, less pressure and lighter.
A new look at metabolism
We've long been taught that after our twenties, our metabolism begins its inevitable decline, and with that comes a difficult balancing act to avoid weight gain for the rest of our lives. However, a new study published in the journal Science shows that metabolic rate doesn't decline as early as we thought. Instead our metabolism plateaus from our 20s to our 50s and doesn't decline until well into our 60s and 70s.
This has caused a significant paradigm shift because it means we have so much more control over our metabolism than previously thought. But with this control comes responsibility. This is why in 2022 we'll see an increased demand for products and lifestyle habits that help maintain metabolism by preserving muscle mass and supporting mitochondrial health. Supplements like branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), acetyl-L-carnitine, CoQ10, and alpha lipoic acid (ALA) will grow in popularity. Additionally, we will shift our physical activities toward healthspan-promoting exercises like yoga, strength training, and walking, while mood-boosting exercises like forest bathing will continue to rise in popularity.
Virtual wellness is here to stay
The COVID-19 pandemic launched our world into virtual everything: virtual therapy, virtual meetings, virtual school. Even when the pandemic is over, virtual wellness isn't going away and we will continue to seek services that we're able to access from the comfort of our homes.
Flavor meets function in the kitchen
We've long known that herbs and spices make our food more flavorful, and now we're learning that those herbs and spices that make our food taste so delicious also make it healthier. This is a trend on flavor that highlights the growing demand for functional ingredients, spices and herbs that increase both the flavor and nutritional value of our favorite foods. In 2022 ingredients including cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, basil, thyme, sage and rosemary will take center stage in the kitchen, not just because they add wonderful flavor, but because they are also chock-full of health-supportive properties.
Bonus trend: Shoppers turn to brick-and-mortar stores to buy supplements
While more Americans than ever are buying and taking dietary supplements, they want authenticity in their shopping experience. This includes factors such as a knowledgeable staff, an ethos behind the business and an authentic physical shopping experience where they can build personal relationships and trust in the quality of the supplements being sold to them. Now, more than ever, shoppers are on a mission to find supplements from trusted manufacturers and retailers (and are also savvy to the idea that you can't trust everything on the internet!).
Shoppers are increasingly relying on brick-and-mortar retailers to do thorough product research to screen out potentially unsafe and low-quality products, which just doesn't happen at large online marketplaces.
Source: Natural Grocers