2024’s top nutrition trends: A comprehensive guide to healthy diet, plant-based eating, and intermittent fasting.

In this article, we delve into six prominent nutrition trends expected to dominate in 2024, providing insights and tips from Registered Dietitians and spokespeople for ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa).

1. Demystifying Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting, rooted in ancient practices, has made a resurgence for weight loss and general health benefits. Registered Dietitian Carmen Basson emphasizes that while intermittent fasting may lead to short-term weight loss, its efficacy is comparable to other diet restriction methods.

Benefits may include changes in appetite hormones, particularly leptin reduction, beneficial for those with overweight and obesity. However, Carmen cautions against potential pitfalls, such as unhealthy food binging and the importance of maintaining muscle mass through adequate exercise.

Carmen’s Focus for 2024:

“Be cautious of jumping between weight loss trends, as severe diet restrictions may lead to disordered eating. Consult with a medical professional or dietitian for a safer approach, prioritizing overall health over mere weight loss.”

2. Exploring Eating for Mental Health

In our fast-paced world, the link between nutrition and mental well-being is gaining prominence. Registered Dietitian Elske Rich highlights the importance of a balanced lifestyle rich in nutritious foods that positively impact mental health. Emphasizing foods like vitamin D-rich options, whole grains, fruits, and omega-3 fatty acids, Elske encourages practical food swaps for better mental well-being.

Elske’s Focus for 2024:

“Eating for mental health takes consistency and time. It’s a worthwhile commitment for long-term well-being, but it’s not a substitute for professional mental healthcare.”

3. Unpacking the Highly Processed Food Debate

Despite conflicting studies, experts agree that prioritizing whole foods remains crucial for a healthy diet. Registered Dietitian Kgadi Moabelo acknowledges diverse views on highly processed foods but emphasizes the importance of avoiding artificial additives and low-nutrient-density ingredients.

Kgadi’s Resolve for 2024:

“While the processed food debate continues, the rise of plant-based eating adds a new dimension. Not all plant-based options are equal, so emphasizing whole, minimally processed plant foods remains key.”

4. Embracing Plant-Based Eating

Carmen dispels the notion that plant-based eating implies strict vegetarianism or veganism, emphasizing the importance of incorporating more plant-derived foods. She encourages dietary diversity for optimal gut health, endorsing Dr. Megan Rossi’s plant points system to achieve a well-rounded intake of different plant foods.

Carmen’s Focus for 2024:

“Commit to simple changes like ‘Meatless Mondays’ and prioritize higher-fiber whole grains, diverse vegetables, and fruits for a sustainable and healthy plant-based approach.”

5. Approaching Routine Probiotic Supplementation with Caution

The spotlight on gut health has intensified, leading to a surge in routine probiotic supplementation. Elske cautions against routine use, highlighting the lack of strict regulation, uncertain efficacy, and potential side effects.

Elske’s Probiotic Focus for 2024:

“Balance gut health through quality foods containing identified probiotic strains, like yoghurt, kefir, and fermented foods, instead of relying solely on supplements.”

6. Incorporating Healthy Snacking

Healthy snacking gains momentum in 2024, aligning with the shift towards mindful eating. Kgadi acknowledges the trend’s potential benefits but cautions about the challenge in maintaining balanced and portion-controlled snacking.

Kgadi’s Tips for 2024:

“Ensure your snacks are diverse, meeting protein, healthy fat, and micronutrient needs. Keep well-hydrated and maintain a snack food diary to track daily consumption.”

Navigating these trends demands a balanced approach, emphasizing whole foods and personalized dietary choices. Staying informed and making conscious decisions can contribute to long-term health and well-being. To connect with a registered dietitian, visit www.adsa.org.za.


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