Is it just us, or did 2017 roll out and we all jumped on board the wellness bandwagon? From mushroom lattes to gut-health diets (and inflammation-fighting foods), suddenly we're all ditching the junk food in favor of healthy snacks and swapping out animal protein for veggie-packed meals. And that's admirable. Keeping your body and mind in great shape is important for leading a long and happy life. But with the myriad of trends that come and go, deciphering the fads from the facts isn't always easy.
So before you switch out your coffee for a golden latte (or a clear one), we tapped Livestrong.com's resident health expert, Jess Barron, to share the biggest health and wellness trends for the year so far (and what's out). Buh-bye, soy milk.
IN: Sugar detoxing will be the new quitting carbs
While we've all been warned of the negative health effects of sugar, it's only now that people are making serious changes and detoxing from it completely. In fact, Barron says sugar detoxing is the new version of quitting carbs. (People seem to be obsessed with bread again but high-quality quality bread, such as Superba bread and Gjusta in L.A.)
"Ever since it was revealed last year in JAMA Internal medicine (and reported in The New York Times ) that the sugar industry paid off scientists in the 1960s to play down the link between sugar and heart disease (and to instead pin the blame on fat and saturated fat), people have started to realize that excessive sugar consumption increases inflammation in the body and is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease," said Barron. "More and more of our readers are telling us on social media that they are cutting out sugar and looking for sugar substitutes."
IN: Expect to See Adaptogens in Packaged Foods
While we documented the rise of adaptogens in our health and wellness trend report late last year, Barron says these powerful herbs (like reishi mushroom powder) will soon become mainstream and to not be surprised if you start seeing it labeled on your favorite packaged foods. "Adaptogens are believed to be able to help the body to 'adapt' to physical and mental stress, and some experts believe they stabilize blood sugar and diffuse stress," said Barron. "The benefit of these herbs and plants is told in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. Some adaptogens include reishi, shitake, maca, ginseng, Cordyceps."
Barron tells us that people are consuming them via stir-fries (shitake mushrooms), mushroom lattes (reishi), and smoothies with boosts of maca and/or ginseng powder added in. I had them as a medicinal broth during my recent detox.
IN: Everyone's Going Crazy for Cryotherapy
While cryotherapy has been around for some time, it's only in the past year that interest in the alternative therapy has spiked—Google trends doesn't lie. If you're unfamiliar, Barron says cryotherapy is the process of exposing the body to ultra-low temperatures (-200 to -250°F) in a controlled environment for a limited amount of time. The individual enters a nitrogen-cooled cryogenic sauna or chamber for one to three minutes, which lowers the skin surface temperature significantly. "This action stimulates receptors, activating a central nervous system response and causing a release of endorphins," Barron explains. "Proponents say it increases circulation, reduces inflammation, and encourages cellular regeneration."
OUT: Bikram Yoga
While people do still enjoy hot yoga (such as the energetic sweaty flow classes at Corepower Yoga), Barron tells us she hasn't heard much buzz around Bikram for a while. "At the end of 2016, controversial Bikram yoga founder Bikram Choudhury showed the world his true colors in a shocking interview with HBO," she explains. "When asked about the women who accused him of sexual assault, Choudhury referred to them as everything from 'trash' to 'psychopaths.'" Despite the practice of Bikram and hot yoga being widely enjoyed, his shocking comments has turned people away from the exercise. You can see the decline via Google Trends too.
IN: Slime for stress relief
Don't relegate slime to child's play; this gooey material is quickly becoming a simple solve for stress relief among adults. According to Barron, slime is taking over the internet: "Watching it and touching it are incredibly addictive and relaxing," she says. And with nearly three million posts under the #slime hashtag on Instagram, we don't see this trend going anywhere anytime soon.
IN: One-Bowl Meals
Poke bowls and acai bowls are still going strong—but Barron says that's only the tip of the bowl iceberg. "There's a Filipino restaurant downtown that serves Filipino bowls, an Echo Park restaurant that serves healthy bowls, and a shop in New York that serves breakfast bowls," she exclaims. "And there's no question that national chains like Sweetgreen, Chipotle, and McDonald's will continue profiting off the bowl trend too." If you want to know how then try these simple Buddha bowls or these delicious breakfast bowl recipes.
IN: Healthy Recipe Videos
We've seen the rise of video across Facebook in general, but there's one that's dominating above all else: the overhead shot recipe video. Barron says these one-minute videos set to music are increasingly popular on Facebook. "People still watch them millions of times and share them," she says. "They show how yummy and healthy recipes can be easier than you think. We find that young millennial women, ages 18 to 24 are the demographic that loves them the most. The Livestrong team has been creating these as part of a series called Simple.Healthy.Eats. that has millions of views."
If you love them too, check out Cooking With Coit, a new Instagram account from Justin Coit, husband of our CEO, Katherine Power.
OUT: Frozen Yogurt
Frozen yogurt—people thought it was healthy. It's not. Even when it has probiotics in it, it generally has far less of the beneficial bacteria than regular non-frozen yogurt. Plus, all of the ridiculous toppings make it worse for you. Instead, we're seeing vegan "nice cream" (here's our recipe to make your own at home!) gain in popularity. In L.A., there are popular nice cream spots such as Kind Kreme and Kippy's. And the newest thing is light, fluffy Japanese-inspired shaved ice cream (from spots like Bockheads Shavery and SnowLA Shavery), as well as fancy shaved ice and frozen juice (such as Freeze in chocolate, vanilla, greens and fruit flavors from Pressed Juicery and lavender lemonade Refresh freezes from Press Brothers Juicery).
IN: Meatless Burgers
Vegan food has been on the rise, but according to Google Trends, there's one meat alternative that's set to replace the burger in our buns: the impossible burger. "It's arguably the most revolutionary alternative protein of the 21st century," asserts Barron. "The entirely plant-based burger is called the Impossible Burger because it has achieved the impossible feat of looking, sizzling, and even bleeding like meat. Compared to cows, the Impossible Burger uses 95% less land, 74% less water, and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s 100% free of hormones, antibiotics, and artificial ingredients."
In February, Livestrong hosted the first of its intimate chef dinner series called The Future of Food with Chef Tal Ronnen at Crossroads cafe giving top influencers and food journalists a taste of the Impossible Burger (it's only available in six restaurants worldwide). "The video we created about the burger had over 100,000 views and our audience was very curious, asking us whether it really tastes like meat—and it does!"
IN: "Ugly" Fruits and Vegetables
All of a sudden, the misshapen fruit that would ordinarily be thrown on the imperfect pile has gone from "ugly" to hip. NPR reports, "There are lots of efforts to keep these cosmetically challenged foods (think gnarled carrots, or funky, misshapen apples) from landing in the landfill because they don't meet retailers' beauty standards." Barron says companies like Imperfect specialize in selling oddly shaped and less-than-pretty fruits and veggies so that they end up on our plates, rather than food waste, and we're on board.
IN: Eggs and Yolk Porn Are on the Rise, But Avocado Toast Isn't Going Anywhere
Not only does putting an egg on it make any recipe look better (there are 187K uses of #yolkporn on Instagram), but Barron says it also makes everything taste better, from pizza to soup to macro bowls to avocado toast and keeps you full longer. If you're a fan, here are 20 of the best ways to eat eggs (it has over 27,000 social shares, btw).
For the avocado-egg obsessed, Barron says avocado toast isn't going anywhere either. "We thought it had hit its peak a few years back, but that trend shows no sign of slowing down," she confirms. "We are seeing a seemingly endless appetite for avocado toast. And check out how Google searches are massively spiking on avocado toast in early 2017 and going higher than ever."
OUT: Soy Milk
While alternative milks from sources like nuts and hemp (and even flax seed) continue to soar, there's one that's showing a decline in popularity: soy milk. "Unlike other trends of the 1990s, soy milk is not enjoying a resurgence," says Barron. "Health-conscious consumers in 2017 are consuming far more cashew milk, almond milk, and hemp milk. People in 2017 have concerns over consuming GMOs (and 93% of soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified). One of the other knocks against soy is that it contains phytoestrogens, a group of natural compounds that resemble estrogen organically and can be endocrine disruptors." So the question remains: Should you be eating soy? We say do your research, and in the meantime, it might be time to scale back your consumption.
IN: Activated Charcoal
IN: Boxing Classes
Whoever said boxing gyms were just for guys didn't account for Victoria's Secret girls. This trend has become a very popular sport with women, and it's on the rise. "More and more women are going to boxing classes that combine cardio and strength set to cool playlists," notes Barron. In L.A., there's the Box Union or Box 'n Burn, and in New York, you hit up ShadowBox where you can reportedly burn up to 1000 calories from their signature class. Now that sounds much better than a three-mile run.
IN: Unicorn Rainbow Lattes, Toasts and More
While they don't look healthy, the latest craze in unicorn food is actually plant-based and super healthy. In fact, according to a Well+Good report, unicorn toast isn't bubble gum flavored; it's actually made up of "cream cheese dyed with hot beet juice (for pink), turmeric (yellow), chlorophyll drops (green), spirulina powder (light blue), freeze-dried blueberry powder (purple), and a power duo of beet juice and freeze dried strawberry for light pink."
"Unicorn rainbow lattes and unicorn rainbow toasts are seriously all the rage on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook," says Barron. "But how long can this 'healthy rainbow' food craze go on, and which foods will be rainbowed next? There's already a rainbow pizza and of course the rainbow grilled cheese sandwich. How about rainbow oatmeal?"
What's been your favorite health trend of 2017 so far? Is there something we missed? Let us know all about it in the comments.