What a whirlwind this weekend has been! I had the pleasure of attending the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Ca this March 10-12. It is the world’s largest natural, organic and health products event, showcasing thousands of innovative health brands and over 80,000 attendees. Basically it’s like Coachella for healthy people.
It’s right next to Disneyland which is the perfect spot for it because it truly is a wonderland. I felt like a kid in a (gigantic) candy store, roaming the endless halls with thousands of natural product brands handing out samples like Whole Foods is going out of business.
I’m gonna be real with you– I made a HUGE mistake the last time I went to say yes to all the samples and left with the worst stomachache of my life, unable to look at another raw vegan bar again. This time I played it smart, bringing my own green juice, salad and snacks to keep me satiated so I could go there to actually network instead of end up in a sample coma.
Why is the convention important? It’s practically like a crystal ball into what the hottest wellness trends are going to be in the next year. New companies showcase their latest products while established companies introduce their upcoming items to the eager public.
Being a huge wellness trend spotter, I decided to do a little round-up of what I found were the top wellness trends of Natural Products Expo West 2017. I met with CEO’s, marketing directors and everyone in between to get the inside scoop on their latest products, packaging and ingredients to put together an accurate vision of where the wild wild wellness world will bring us in 2017.
Here is my list of the Top Ten Wellness Trends at Natural Products Expo West 2017.
Need I say more? This orange spice, which used to only be found in Indian food, is now basically on every corner and in every product.. and as an Ayurvedic Nutritionist I ain’t complainin’. I saw everything from an entire line of turmeric juices, shots and drinking vinegars at Temple Turmeric to turmeric-dusted superfood almonds at Navitas.
As I mentioned in my articles, turmeric is as effective at reducing depression as Prozac, has been proven to reduce belly fat and heals and brightens the skin. It also has been clinically found to decrease inflammation in the body, fighting against neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, metabolism, pulmonary, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases.
Because it’s such potent medicine, I saw many companies selling turmeric capsules because many people don’t know how to get this spice in their diets. Though it is beneficial to take the turmeric capsules, this spice is actually 50% more absorbable by the body when paired with black pepper, such as in my belly-fat burning golden mylk recipe.
Much to my delight, turmeric wasn’t the only Ayurvedic superfood that made it’s way out of ancient texts and onto the convention floors of the expo..
Mark my words: ashwaganda is the next turmeric. I repeat. Ashwaganda is the next turmeric. Right now you’re probably reading ashwaganda wondering how the heck you even pronounce it but that’s how people felt about turmeric a few years ago and now it’s probably some yogi baby’s first word.
Ashwaganda is the most acclaimed adaptogen in Ayurvedic medicine (and I know a lot about it—I just wrote The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda which will be out this August with Penguin Randomhouse.)Now you may be wondering…
What’s an adaptogen? Adaptogens are a unique class of healing herbs that balance your body’s response to stress. They heal adrenal fatigue and balance cortisol levels in the body.
Adaptogens are unique because they provide you with energy during the day (without caffeine) by making your body more efficient at burning its own fuel and also calm your adrenals at night, helping you sleep. They’re basically like the best of both worlds. I take ashwaghanda in the morning to get me energized and again at night to help me rest. It works with your body for whatever function it is trying to do and should seriously be a part of everyone’s routine.
Ashwaghanda supports the nervous, reproductive, immune and respiratory systems, making it one of the most multi-use herbs out there. Ashwaganda increases ojas, which is the Ayurvedic term for vitality, radiant health and longevity. It has been clinically proven to protects against anxiety, autoimmune disease, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic colds, hormonal imbalance, irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid conditions and weight-loss resistance. Pretty amazing, right? Look out for many Ashwaghanda snacks, supplements and beverages to come (and plenty of giveaways!)
The third wellness trend that may not be a surprise to you if you’ve been following me for the past few months is monkfruit. Again mark my words: monkfruit as the new sexy sweetener that is here to stay.
Last year everyone was all about stevia but many companies removed it from their products because some people couldn’t palate the after-taste.
The year before it was all about dates, coconut sugar, maple syrup and raw honey, which are natural but still contain sugar.
Before that it was agave, which everyone finally realized has just as much fructose as high fructose corn syrup.
As you can see, the health industry is a little ADD when it comes to sweeteners (maybe because they’ve been using WAY too much.)
However, I honestly think monkfruit is here to stay and let me tell you why.
1) It doesn’t contain the bitter aftertaste of stevia, which so many people can’t stand.
2) It has no impact on blood sugar levels, unlike raw honey, coconut sugar, maple syrup and agave, meaning NO weight-gain, no diabetes, no gut-wrenching Candida, no autism and other cognitive issues and no addiction.
3) It contains no fructose or glucose, making it ketogenic-friendly (which I’ll get more into later.)
4) It is plant-based, organic and 100% natural, deriving from an actual fruit in the mountains of China (which is the only place on the planet monkfruit can grow.)
5) It can replace sugar seamlessly without a different taste or texture.
My favorite company doing monkfruit sweeteners is Lakanto because they have so many dope options. They just introduced their new Suntella, which is a sugar-free monk-fruit sweetened Nutella that is literally my dream come true. I’ve seriously almost finished the jar they gave me Saturday and it’s Wednesday. #no regrets
They also have an amazing maple syrup which is what I used in my raw-vegan galaxy donuts and many of my other raw-vegan recipes because it’s the perfect replacement for regular maple syrup. I actually did a live raw-vegan galaxy-donut demo at their booth and got interviewed for Japanese TV which was pretty rad. I have a discount code that I can offer all my Freshies for 20% off any order on their website. All you do is go on Lakanto.com and type in SAHARA at checkout (try their chocolates too.. best ever.)
Gut bacteria is so hot right now. I was amazed to see how much awareness there was about keeping a healthy gut flora. As I taught in my free Killing Your Candida Webinar, you are only as healthy as your gut. Too much bad bacteria and you’re destined for candida (yeast) overgrowth which attribute to sugar-cravings, digestive issues and more. Our good bacteria is killed by antibiotic use, especially as children, as well as the antibiotics used in our meat and dairy products which is why it is so important to eat organic.
Excess sugar also feeds the bad bacteria and yeast overgrowth. Sugar has been linked to almost everything from inflammation to even cancer, autism and Alzheimer’s. Not only are tons of supplement companies coming out with new probiotic lines, but food companies are now including probiotics in their ingredient lists. For example Lakanto’s Matcha Latte mix has probiotics in it (and you’d never guess by tasting!)
On the probiotic train, yogurt is also taking over the snack aisles. Not only are people realizing the importance of good bacteria, which yogurt has a lot of, but they are also switching to more high-protein, low-carb diets, making yogurt the perfect option.
In the past, yogurt has been solely milk based, but I saw tons of incredible new yogurt companies displaying plenty of plant-based options. I absolutely loved the coconut yogurt by Co-Yo because it only has one ingredient- coconut. The unsweetened almond milk yogurt by Kitehill is also amazing with a little bit of Lakanto maple syrup.
My favorite booth at the Expo was the Chobani one, which had a full restaurant with chefs serving tons of incredible yogurt-infused recipes like tzatziki, sorbet and baby potato salad. It was awesome to see yogurt replacing the use of mayo and cream in so many recipes and excited to see that movement grow, especially amongst the masses. Bio-K also does awesome probiotic yogurt shots, both in vegan and dairy.
6. Drinking Vinegars.
Another popular item due to our increasing awareness about gut-bacteria are drinking vinegars. These are basically mixes of cold-pressed juice with apple cider or coconut vinegar with the mother still in tact, giving you about four billion live probiotics per bottle. They’re a great alternative to traditional juices, with a much lower sugar content. They also aren’t as fizzy as kombucha so if you feel bloated with typical kombucha, drinking vinegars would be a great option. I tasted amazing raw drinking vinegars made by Suja and Temple Turmeric will be doing some giveaways with them on my Instagram @eatfeelfresh.
This skin-bone-and-gut healing ingredient is a huge trend in the wellness world that looks like it is here to stay… for good reason.What is collagen? Collagen is a long-chain amino comprised of amino acids glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and arginine. It is only found in animal tissue, particularly bones and connective tissue.
Collagen is what makes bones, hair, nails and skin strong and elastic. In fact,90% of our organic bone mass, 70% of protein in the skin and 30% of the body’s protein is collagen. When our collagen levels are too low, we begin suffering bone density, digestive, aging, hormonal and other issues which is more frequent than you could ever imagine.
Due to being extremely Vata, I commonly have bone-related issues and actually injured both of my wrists, my left hip and ankles in the past year. After reading so much about the benefits of collagen, especially on strengthening bones, I decided to give it a try. Studies have found that orally administering collagen peptides helps bone metabolism, especially in the calcium-deficient condition such as osteopenia, without obvious undesirable effects.
Many people don’t know this but Ayurveda actually recommends consuming animal-products, particularly bone broth, when Vata is out of balance because it is so warming, grounding and building, promoting Pitta and Kapha. If your health is suffering due to low bone density, poor nutrient assimilation and other Vata-related issues, then you are recommended to temporarily consume animal products to rebuild strength.
My two favorite companies creating collagen products are Vital Proteins and Primal Kitchen because they’re both grass-fed and really high quality. Vital Proteins does amazing pure collagen peptide powders and has a new line of super yummy-tasting beauty powders. They also have a marine collagen option for those who don’t want to do a cow product. Primal Kitchen does an amazing tasting collagen-protein powder that literally tastes like cake-batter. They also have new collagen protein bars with no added sugar, just 3g of raw honey which is super rare to see in a bar.
I’m really excited to see what taking collagen everyday will do for my bones and joints and will keep you guys posted! If it works out, I’ll definitely do some giveaways and Freshie discount codes so make sure you are following me on Instagram @eatfeelfresh to stay tuned for that.
8. The Ketogenic movement.
Along with the uprise of collagen is the greater Ketogenic movement. The Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb diet that has been found to help promote weight-loss, enhance energy and improve brain power. Studies have even found that it combats against epilepsy, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s due to decreasing your blood’s glucose levels.
How does it work? When you restrict eating carbs and instead eat much more fat, your body learns to run off fats instead, which is actually a preferred source of fuel because it’s much longer-lasting. That’s why you don’t have to eat as often on a Ketogenic diet while still staying nourished, sharp and maintaining muscle mass.
Many brain-experts, such as 4-Hour Work Week Author Tim Ferris, follow a Ketogenic diet because of it’s cognitive boosting powers. When your body is in ketosis, your body turns fat into ketones in your liver, supplying your brain with endless energy.
Research backs it up. A study with 23 elderly with mild cognitive impairment showed that a ketogenic diet improved verbal memory performance after 6 weeks compared to a standard high carbohydrate diet. In another double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 152 patients with mild- to moderate Alzheimer’s disease were given either a ketogenic agent or a placebo, while maintaining a normal diet. 90 days later, those receiving the drug showed marked cognitive improvement compared to placebo, which was correlated with the level of ketones in the blood.
The ketogenic diet drastically reduces blood sugar and insulin levels, making it great for diabetics and overweight individuals. In fact, studies found that the Ketogenic diet improved insulin sensitivity by a whopping 75%. In another study, the Ketogenic group lost 24.4 lbs (11.1 kg), compared to 15.2 lbs (6.9 kg) in the higher-carb group over 24 weeks. 95.2% of the Ketogenic group was also able to stop or reduce diabetes medication, compared to 62% in the higher-carb group.
Needless to say, there is a lot of evidence that validates the ketogenic movement, though it’s very different from the way most of us have been eating, and of course the traditional grain-based Ayurvedic diet.
My advice—find your perfect balance.
A strict keto diet is not for everyone, nor is it easy to maintain. Women do need more carbs in their diet than men due to a (major) difference in hormones, so I recommend slowly progressing down your carb content while increasing your fat intake and seeing how your body feels. Women aren’t supposed to be 10% body-fat and those with a Kapha body type will naturally hold more fat onto them. However, you can easily and safely lose weight just by following a more Ketogenic diet.
My version of the Ketogenic diet is very different than the typical because it is still plant-based. I don’t recommend eating bacon, sour cream and butter but rather sticking to plant-based fats like avocados, coconuts, nuts and seeds. That way, you are filling your body up with the most nutrient-dense foods possible.
I personally love fats and my body really craves them. I’ve been on a higher fat, lower carb diet for several years and love how I feel on it.. Plus, nut-butter. Need I explain more? If you are currently eating a lot of carbs and feeling tired/ sluggish throughout the day, slowly shift your diet to include more fats and less carbs and you’ll be amazed by the results!
9. Exogenous ketones.
The next Keto product I see taking the market by storm are exogenous ketones. These are basically supplemental ketones you take which put your body in a state of ketosis without having to follow such a strict keto-diet (yesss!) In fact, you can actually test if your body is in ketosis with urine or blood tests. After taking the exogenous ketones, I’ve seen for myself that your body actually DOES go into ketosis- something I wasn’t able to pull off with diet alone!
I recently started taking a product called Keto-OS right before I left for Costa Rica which I really love because it kept me energized during the retreat and allowed me to stay focused as I was running around teaching workshops and zip-lining throughout the rainforest. I’ve also lost five pounds of pure fat just by implementing it into my morning routine which is a pretty nice added benefit.
Being the nutritional nerd I am, I did TONS of research on taking exogenous ketones because I’m very apprehensive about anything I put into my body. However, I’ve found only positive research, such as it being clinically proven to treat diabetes and epilepsy. Researchers are also investigating ketones as treatment for cancer, polycystic ovary syndrome, acne, Alzheimer’s, ALS and other illnesses, with promising preliminary results. You can read tons of research done on ketones here and here. Be sure to also watch this TedTalk on Starving Cancer here.
My favorite flavor of the Keto OS is definitely the chocolate and I’ve been having it with unsweetened flax milk for breakfast everyday before my workouts and it’s given me SO much energy for my workouts, even though I got the caffeine-version. Plus it tastes like a chocolate milkshake. #aintcomplainin
For the first time, I’m finally feeling what it’s like to be running off ketones instead of glucose and it’s pretty amazing.
Another benefit of taking ketones is it’s allowed me to practice Intermittent Fasting the right way. I made the mistake of practicing intermittent fasting for a year without being on ketosis and it actually lead to weight-gain instead of weight-loss, plus made my sugar-cravings out of control. I thought being in ketosis just meant eating avocado everyday and not eating bread/ rice/ pasta but it takes a LOT more than that to be on nutritional ketosis. However, taking exogenous ketones allows you to access ketosis without such a restrictive diet.
Since taking the Keto OS, my sweet cravings are gone and I’m able to power through my emails like a boss. If you wondered why this blog-post is so long compared to the others, you can thank the ketones that fueled me. You can order Keto OS here.
10. Super-clean ingredient lists.
The last and most amazing trend I found were how CLEAN these ingredient lists were! Normally in packaged foods, you find canola/palm/safflower oil, carrageenan and other cheap fillers and preservatives but people are really waking up and demanding uber-clean products—and the companies are delivering!
Frozen foods are notorious for sneaking in these icky ingredients but I was amazed to find many companies out there that stay true to what they advertise on front of their boxes- just good ol’ plain produce! I am a huge fan of Hilary’s burgers which had ingredients like root veggies, black rice, coconut oil, millet, chia/ hemp seeds, leafy greens, beans and pulses, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and actual REAL salt. It was the first time I’ve seen a burger on the shelves with the same ingredients that I’d actually make.
I also am a huge fan of the Primal Kitchen’s mayo which is made of avocado oil, organic cage-free eggs, organic vinegar, sea salt and rosemary. This is WAY better for you than canola-oil based mayos which pride themselves in being vegan but are actually way worse for you.
Canola oil is a genetically modified product that Canadians invented in the 1970s as a natural oil, but in 1997 Monsanto created a genetically modified version of canola oil, which is what we have today. As of 2005, 87 percent of canola grown in the U.S. was genetically modified, and by 2009, 90 percent of the Canadian crop was genetically engineered. Canola oil is linked to kidney and liver problems, coronary heart disease, hypertension and strokes.
If you’re going to have mayo, it’s best to eat it with organic eggs rather than canola oils. It’s definitely much more expensive for companies to switch to organic eggs but so much healthier for us so I’m SO excited to see this shift.
It goes to show that the education we are out there doing is actually working and people are really reading the ingredient labels, not just buying anything that claims to be “healthy” and “natural.” Yay to all of you for demanding top products!
In general, I am so optimistic about the way the natural product industry is heading. We are really beginning to merge ancient healing herbs, spices and theories with modern nutritional science and research, giving us the best of both worlds (which is what I’m all about!)
I have left this Expo more inspired than ever and can’t wait to see these new products take the shelves of major supermarkets as they reach the masses in this shift!
What are the health and wellness trends you see in 2017? I’d love to know!
Keep it real,