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Nutritional Trends for a Healthy 2016

Posted on March 2nd, 2016

Most trends come and go, including those involving diet and nutrition. Sometimes they stick around and grow in popularity like gluten-free foods, or sometimes they only last a year or two. Remember the sudden rise of kale and the movement to spiralize veggies? Each year, a new list of nutrition trends is introduced, and with March being National Nutrition Month, now's the perfect time to look at this year's contenders to see if they fit into your healthy eating plan.

Predicted to rise in popularity in 2016 are fashionable foods including algae, beets, sprouted grains, powdered peanut butter and something called nooch. But in addition to these trendy foods, there are two items consistently mentioned by nutritionists and researchers that may be worth considering:

Probiotics for Gut Health and More
Dieticians predict that in 2016 we'll start to see more and more probiotic-fortified foods and beverages, including fruit and vegetable juices, cereals and waters. You've probably heard of probiotics, and they're often referred to as the "good bacteria" found in yogurt and dietary supplements. These friendly microorganisms also live in your gut and help serve as the immune system's first line of defense.

Research has shown that probiotics become increasingly important as you age to help counteract the significant drop in bacteria in your gut that occurs around age 60. Microbiology and gut biology expert, Dr. Sandra McFarlane, states that seniors "typically have about 1,000-fold less 'friendly' bacteria in their guts compared to younger adults, and increased levels of disease-causing microbes, making them more susceptible to gastrointestinal infections and bowel conditions like IBS." Probiotics may have other benefits as well. According to the American Heart Association, regular consumption of probiotics may help reduce high blood pressure, as well as maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

Pulses (aka Legumes, aka Seeds that Grow within Pods)
2016 has been named the International Year of Pulses by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In common terms, pulses are lentils, dry peas, beans, and chickpeas, and according to the FAO they should be eaten as part of a healthy diet to address obesity, as well as to prevent and help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart conditions and cancer.

Pulses are low fat, low sodium, gluten free and cholesterol free, and a good source of iron, folate, protein, fiber and potassium. Along with the nutritional trend of simply eating more pulses, they can also be turned into flour to be used as a higher-fiber, higher-protein alternative to whole wheat flour. Pulses almost seem like a superfood for anyone, from kids to seniors, and can be worked into your diet in a variety of ways. For more information, including recipes, check out Pulses: The Perfect Food.

So if you're feeling trendy, but not quite brave enough for algae or sprouted grains, you may want to consider adding probiotics or pulses to your diet. And if you're still wondering, nooch is a trendy word for "nutritional yeast" and comes in both powder and flakes with a flavor reminiscent of cheese. Yum!
Be sure to consult your health care provider before altering your diet or for guidance about a specific nutritional item or medical condition.

This article has been provided for educational purposes only and is based on the most reliable information available on the date of publication.
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