The Future of Nutrition: Cool Ideas and Food Trends from FNCE
Each year one of my favorite events to attend is the Academy of Nutrition Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE). It’s always a grand annual gathering of my tribe – of those who are committed to integrative nutrition; to spreading the gospel of the healing power of good, wholesome foods; and those who are innovating with new ways to support health. It’s also a fantastic way to connect with so many colleagues in the nutrition field, from those I’ve known for years to those just starting out. I never miss it!
But for me (FNCE) is more than just a conference, it’s an opportunity. As both a clinical nutritionist and a perpetual student of ‘food-as-medicine’ arts, FNCE is one of the essential ways I get to learn about what’s new in nutrition, which ideas are taking off, what’s coming to market and which innovations make the most sense for my patients (and me too!).
This year at FNCE, there were a number of ideas that captured my attention and I wanted to share with you so you know what to be on the lookout for your particular health profile. Whether you you’re gluten-free or paleo, ketogenic or plant-based, the good news is that there’s something for everyone on the horizon. And here’s the scoop:
The bigtake-away: more ‘real’ minimally processed foods.
Granted, the fewer processed foods you eat the better, but if you are going to eat the occasional processed food, manufacturers are starting to clean up their acts. There is (at last) a movement towards cleaner, healthier, minimally- processed foods made with fewer chemicals, additives, preservatives, allergens and gut-disrupting ingredients like GMOs, gluten, and extra sugar. Great news for those on specialized diets.
Farewell ‘forbidden’ foods.
For those who’ve had to eliminate certain foods in order to control health issues, a few old favorites may be coming back to a plate near you, only this time, they’ll be minus many of the troublesome ingredients. For example, a few of the forbidden foods that have gotten a health-conscious face-lift are:
- Pasta: Veggie and legume-based, grain-free pastas, like Banza pastas, made from chickpeas and packed with protein and fiber
- Pizza Crusts: Pizza crusts made from cauliflower that are gluten and grain-free and I think are even tastier that the original pizza shop versions! I sampled the ones by California Cali-Flour Fresh Foods and it was definitely love at first bite!
- Crackers and cereals: usually loaded with allergens, many of the new upgraded versions from Simple Mills and Enjoy Life are made without nuts and with more wholesome ingredients things like sunflower seeds, quinoa or buckwheat.
- Veggie Juice: in particular, beet ‘kvass,’ a nutrient-packed, fermented veggie juice with tons of probiotics and enzymes, no added sweeteners a bit of fizz and a much more grown-up taste.
The Gut takes center stage!
At last, the gut is getting it’s due as the foundation of good health – so much so, that for the first time ever, FNCE even presented an actual Gut Pavilion! As an clinical integrative nutritionist who’s spent over 30 years studying the gut, lecturing about it and co-authoring two books about it – The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Health with Dr. Gerard Mullin and The Swift Diet: 4 Weeks to Mend the Belly, Lose the Weight, and Get Rid of the Bloat – it was extremely gratifying to see an entire section of the conference dedicated to it! In the pavilion, there were exciting new offerings in probiotics and digestive enzymes and most exciting of all, special ‘leaky gut’ formulas to support better gut health for all!
It’s like Burning Man – for veggies!
Veggies and low-sugar fruits have always been important but this year, they were more abundant than ever, in both whole food and lightly processed, product form, but what stood out most were pure and simple foods, like whole avocados, olives, nuts and berries. Those items that were considered slightly exotic when I was growing up have now become easy-to-find, everyday foods that even consumers with rudimentary nutritional knowledge know they should be eating more of. And with the continued rising interest in paleo and ketogenic diets and in eating more whole, unadulterated foods, safe to say the message that food-as-medicine idea is influencing the nutrition industry like never before – and that’s a beautiful thing for all of our health.