Nutrition is a constantly evolving field. As technology advances, research in our field has allowed us to examine more closely the role of nutrition in our health, physically, mentally, and even external to our bodies. Research gives experts the opportunity to understand the effects and implications of specific dietary interventions, how to manage or cure chronic disease, and how to prevent adverse health, all through what we eat. Using this research, dietitians and other wellness professionals can provide evidence-based, individualized nutrition advice to their patients and clients. Here, we’ve identified five nutrition areas that are of interest for research by experts.
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5 of the Latest Nutrition and Dietary Research Trends for 2021
✨ Eating for Immunity
Naturally, nutrition research has seen an increased interest in how our diets can support our immunity. Researchers and the public alike are highly interested in learning more about how our immune system works, and how we can support it through proper nutrition. Consumers have certainly already taken to using nutrients such as vitamin D, zinc, vitamin C, and even elderberry to boost their immune systems in an attempt to avoid becoming infected with the coronavirus. Many of the recent publications focus on gathering previous research to understand immunity for COVID-19; however, it is likely we will soon see emerging studies and new evidence regarding how we can overall support immunity through nutrition.
The latest nutrition and immunity research to review:
- Nutrition Regulates Innate Immunity in Health and Disease
- Enhancing immunity in viral infections, with special emphasis on COVID-19: A review
- The Importance of Nutrition in Boosting Immunity for Prevention and Treatment COVID-19
✨ Plant-Based Proteins
As plant-based diets become more popular for mainstream consumers, the need for plant-based proteins is only going to grow. Consumers have begun to understand the health benefits of plant-based diets alongside the adverse effects of animal proteins. Additionally, sustainability and ethical considerations are playing a role in consumer decisions to forego animal proteins. Therefore, they are looking to find plant-based alternatives for their favorite animal products. However, this means that such alternatives on the market must be able to support proper nutrition. Plant-based proteins do tend to have lower quality protein than animal proteins, so dietary researchers are looking to better understand the nutritional quality of these proteins, and how they affect our health.
Dietary research to review on plant-based proteins:
- Plant Proteins: Assessing Their Nutritional Quality and Effects on Health and Physical Function
- Dietary animal and plant protein intakes and their associations with obesity and cardio-metabolic indicators in European adolescents
- Association Between Plant and Animal Protein Intake and Overall and Cause-Specific Mortality
✨ Digestion-Boosting Foods
As experts discover more and more about our gut microbiome and the role it plays in all aspects of our health, dietary research is looking to understand how what we eat can influence our gut microbiota. Probiotics, prebiotics, and fermented foods have garnered high levels of interest as beneficial additions to our diet. Currently, more research is needed to pinpoint the exact benefits and effects of adding these microorganisms to our diet, and what is the most efficient way to do so. Some dietary researchers are looking to examine the role probiotics can play in chronic disease management as well. As expected, some are attempting to examine if there is any link between management/prevention of COVID-19 and probiotics.
Research to review on gut health and digestion:
- Probiotics and COVID-19: Is there any link?
- Non-Dairy Fermented Beverages as Potential Carriers to Ensure Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Bioactive Compounds Arrival to the Gut and Their Health Benefits
- Probiotics, Prebiotics and Other Dietary Supplements for Gut Microbiota Modulation in Celiac Disease Patients
✨ Eating for Mental Health
Over the past year, emphasis has been placed on the importance of mental health, due to the effects of the pandemic. More people than ever are looking for increased support to manage adverse mental effects of the pandemic; and yet, they may be able to look to food and nutrition to improve their mood. Building off of interest in the gut microbiome, research has begun to examine the connection between our gut and our brain. While the existence of a connection has yet to be fully proven, experts are looking to understand the influence of our gut on our brain and anxiety, mood, cognition, and pain.
Research to review on the gut-brain connection:
- Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour
- A link between gastrointestinal disorders and migraine: Insights into the gut–brain connection
- The Gut-Brain Axis and Its Role in Depression
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✨ Sustainability in Nutrition & Food Systems
Environmentally friendly nutrition and food systems are becoming more of a priority, as we battle the global climate crisis. Creating sustainable diets requires both eating in a way that maintains proper health and also allows us to support, not damage, our environment. This has led to an increased focus on how to develop sustainable farming and sourcing, closed-loop supply chains, and solutions for feeding our populations facing hunger. There is much left to be understood about how these changes will impact our environment, demonstrating the need for more comprehensive research on nutrition and sustainability.
Research to review on sustainable nutrition and food systems:
- Integrating sustainable nutrition into health-related institutions: a systematic review of the literature
- Healthy diets can create environmental trade-offs, depending on how diet quality is measured
- Environmental impacts of dietary shifts in India: A modelling study using nationally-representative data
Healthie for Your Nutrition and Wellness Business
As a wellness professional, facilitating change takes more than one consultation. Building a rapport is crucial, so that patients trust you and your process, to create lasting outcomes. Engaging with and monitoring your patients as you work together lets you give them the feedback and support they need to stay motivated and make changes. You’ll find that as you engage with patients, retention is improved, and a real trusting relationship can be established.
Having someone monitoring their progress allows them to stay focused. Using patient engagement tools to review patient food journal entries, give real-time meal suggestions, answer questions, and more instills a sense of accountability. Additionally, health goals are achieved when patients can make consistent habit-forming changes. Making a collaborative effort towards goal setting based on nutrient guidelines and requirements shows your patients that you care about their progress and future success.
Healthie’s practice management and telehealth software was built with dietitians, nutritionists, and health coaches in mind. With a host of back-office management features, as well as a comprehensive client engagement suite, you can easily run a business while working with your clients to achieve healthy eating habits and lifestyle practices. To try out these features for free, simply click here.
- Food Journaling: Clients can take pictures of meals, indicate hunger and healthiness, and write comments, a description, and a reflection.
- Activity Tracking: Clients can log their workouts or activity, including type of activity and intensity.
- Nutrient Tracking (Upcoming): Enables your clients to log nutrient data leveraging the USDA Food Database; they can search for and log specific foods, view macro and micronutrient data, and view calories consumed.
- Goal Setting: Clients and providers can create daily, weekly, and one-time goals, monitor goal completion rate, check off goals, and receive goal reminders.
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