Health trends for 2021 are shaping up to be a lovely balance between personal and community wellbeing. We can look forward to accessing individualized data to hold us accountable to feeling good in mind and body—versus just looking good—as we continue cooking at home and improve ourselves with functional superfoods. Also, we’ll redefine roles of healthy communities, outdoor spaces and local food, prioritizing collective consciousness.

Clearly, healthy people, communities, economies, the environment and work-life balance all are worthy of investing our time, effort and hard-earned dollars.

While I look forward to the rise of functional-eco-conscious-supplement-superfoods, the lines are somewhat blurred between what’s a supplement and what’s a food. (Adaptogenic coffee, I adore you). What fuels the marketing of trendy bone broths, mushroom powders, and kombucha cocktails? A desire for mental wellbeing and immune resilience. To achieve both, we must understand the connection between damaged ecosystems and internal imbalances.

As we Google which nutrients will help offset COVID risk, reduce severity of symptoms, and improve outcomes for those who suffer most, we find little science to determine which combinations, types and amounts of honey, vitamins C and D, black cumin seed, zinc, boysenberries and omegas could help us individually. Yet, it’s encouraging to legitimize that nutrients from nature can have profound effects on personal resilience and recovery. Hence the revival of traditional therapies for immune wellness, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and, conveniently, encapsulating botanicals in supplement form.

Amongst the “new normal” of daily life is the role of functional foods, supplements and immunity-aids to optimize vitality. With technology, new research and widespread concern, this is an ideal to prioritize our personalized health. In the Westernized world, as we build careers, raise children, remodel, relax, recreate, educate, and caffeinate, global health is often overlooked. (Who has time to cook, let alone notice the slow death of the earth at the hands of modern conveniences?)

But are superfood supplements simply another Band-Aid? Somewhere along our quest for more and better, our earth became toxic and we discarded our reverence for heritage recipes, growing our own food, and patient transformation in such crafts as ferments. These diverse, natural and environmental arts harmoniously cultivate a rich eco-system inside our bodies and in the outside world. Sadly, we’ve traded environmental fruitfulness for reliance on others for food intake— restaurants, corporations, convenience stores, the meat and dairy industry, big ag and, yes, big pharma and supplements. As a result, our gastrointestinal and interconnected immune health have suffered, along with our desecrated earth.

With increased awareness about how toxins damage microcolonies in the gastrointestinal tract, the primary site of immunity—increasing vulnerability to infection, viruses and disease—we can improve lifelong eco-imbalances with traditional therapies that promise resiliency and, perhaps, vigor. Hence why supplement sales mushroomed in 2020 with the implosion of functional food-supplements to strengthen the immune system.

It’s not surprising, then, to predict trends that encourage nourishment from our food and for our mood. But we cannot escape the role of manmade chemicals by simply ingesting superfood-supplements.

As you seek ways to strengthen your body and mind, my wish for you is to examine your diet preferences, eating and drinking behaviors, and functional-supplement-superfood choices. Consider what they say about your body awareness, about your personal and environmental values and how you can grow toward a more balanced internal/external ecosystem.

Jamie Truppi, MSN, is an integrative nutritionist focusing on functional foods and family wellness.

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