Drink Up, Eat Empowered

Top Nutritionists Help You Navigate the Latest Food Trends

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Created in partnership with a2 Milk®.

Nutrition trends are exciting when they’re shiny and new, and many people spot them and immediately decide that, whatever it is, it’ll solve all of their health problems. (Ahem, celery juice, anyone?)

Many of these trends are positive: We are all about constantly finding new ways to live healthier. The problem is that as trends gain steam, people misinterpret them: They turn their backs on nutritious foods like milk in favor of watered-down alternatives, they give up gluten for no reason, the list goes on.

That issue was the topic of a recent panel at Nutritious Life’s Masterclass event, where two top nutritionists—NL founder Keri Glassman, MS, RD and Tiffany Mendell, MS, RD—talked about how to stay up on trends while sticking to sound scientific information on how to truly eat well.

Keri pointed out that one of the toughest aspects is that science and nutrition are constantly evolving and now we’re faced with distinguishing between different kinds of “new” foods. A new food may be the result of innovative factory production, like plant-based burgers. Or, it may be a whole food that wasn’t available to us before. Chia seeds, for example, used to only be sold in chia pets; a2 Milk®—real milk that’s easier on digestion and may help some avoid discomfort—wasn’t widely available until recently. The key is understanding when a trend is worth paying attention to.

Know the difference between a trend and a tool
It’s important to understand the difference between a trend, which will come and go without adding much to your health, and a new product or food that can truly help you.

Gluten-free diets, for example, are trendy. Tiffany explained that not everyone needs to avoid gluten (in fact, most people don’t!), so jumping on the bandwagon unless medically indicated probably has little benefit to your overall health.

RELATED: The Dos and Don’ts of Going Gluten-Free

a2 Milk®, on the other hand, may sound trendy, but it is a natural innovation and a valuable tool to help more people get important nutrition from dairy milk. Published research suggests a2 Milk® may help avoid stomach comfort in some people. So now, a2 Milk®, which comes from cows that naturally produce the A2 protein and no A1, is widely available at grocery stores across the country.

Look beyond trendy labels
Another trend? Plant-based diets. Plant-based eating can be a good thing if it means you’re eating more produce. But you need to look beyond the label—and consider the actual nutrients in your diet. For instance, a glass of a2 Milk®, a whole food with no additives, always wins over a packaged plant-based milk that’s been stripped of nutrients.

Similarly, “dairy-free” has picked up some steam as a trend, partly because many people drink milk or eat yogurt and find it hard to digest—but that’s not the whole picture. They assume they’re lactose intolerant and eliminate nutrient-rich foods altogether without further testing. “Some people think they’re lactose intolerant, but what we’re finding out is that they may have trouble with the A1 protein but not the A2, so this is where we can tease out what’s really going on,” Keri said.

And at the end of the day, that’s the key to navigating a complicated nutrition landscape loaded with trends and complex research: cutting through the noise and teasing out what’s going on so you can make the most nutritious—and least restrictive—choices for your body.

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