The Health and wellbeing sector has seen strong growth for a number of years, however in the last year or so it has not only grown in its own sector such as food, supplements and drinks but also spilled over into mainstream. As a nutritionist, in the last year I have been asked to consult on brands in everything from professional hair and beauty care, private members clubs, cocktail bars and to online retailers and media. Whether it is for staff health and productivity or part of product offering, wellbeing is not only functional, but also a desirable asset. There are a number of areas that are emerging as hot topics or trends that will have impact on the products we buy, the way we approach health and wellbeing and overall industry.
The Big Sugar Debate
Whilst we have known forever that over consumption of sugar was bad for us, the true impact of its contribution to the world obesity crisis has been highlighted by acclaimed films such as ‘That sugar film’ and celebrity campaigns from those such as Jamie Oliver. The UK government has recently U-turned its decision on the much debated ‘sugar tax’, going from ruling it out last year to, in Jan ’16, ‘not ruling it out’. The NHS recently announced it will be phasing in a sugar levy in hospitals, clinics etc. by 2020.
However, demonising sugar alone without fully understanding the nutrition and biochemistry has given rise to many ‘health’ products that are actually just as bad for us, if not in some cases worse. Agave syrup and its wide spread use is a prime example of this, when in reality it is not far from the universally condemned high fructose corn syrup. I believe the answer is not focus on what you can’t eat or trying to find like for like replacements, but creating positive products that functionally support our health. Then in turn balancing these with realistic expectations of peoples real lives, having a little sugar in your diet is not going to affect you negatively if it is balanced with healthy fats, fibre, proteins and plenty of vegetables and fruit. Crowding out with lots of healthy food is the way to create a sustainable nourishing diet. This way of eating is finally seeing demise of the ‘diet’. Eating a healthy diet makes you feel good, dieting does not.
The emergence of functional foods, foods that actively support our wellbeing with proven benefits (i.e. real superfoods with kudos) such as turmeric, maca, bee pollen, omega 3s, chia, probiotic foods, green tea, and their wide spread use will continue to grow and be integrated into our wider food chain, in everything from ice-cream, to chocolate to superfood soups.
Another major area of interest and growth is personalisation on a mass scale. We are all different, from our genetics, to our diets, to our lifestyle and wellbeing goals. Personal coaching either in terms of nutrition or fitness has been the reserve of those with the time and funds to commit. However, increasing ease, tech, knowledge and access makes this a large area of growth. With internet based firms developing technology in terms of information gathering, assessments and then delivery of product or service in a timely, cheap and efficient manner including ‘to your door’ delivery services and on the go apps, it will be more accessible to all. Along side this, developments in scientific functional health testing and monitoring from everything from your DNA, to gastro-intestinal health, to sleep, exercise and food intolerances will make it easier to personalise your actions and goals. Lastly, global online communities are created to exchange information, motivate and support progress. Kayla Itsines, bikini body guides #BBG, with her 4.4m followers is a prime example of this.