The company’s Nutrition Education team is made up of health and wellness experts ranging from Registered Dietitians to natural food chefs. The team collaborated with Natural Grocers’ buyers and analysts, studied consumer-shopping preferences, and took into account the impact of COVID-19 in order to create the list.
"Our trends this year are dramatically different than previous years' in that they're far less fleeting. COVID-19 is a pandemic that sits on top of another pandemic in the United States of malnutrition and poor long-term health," remarked Shelby Miller, MS, Natural Grocers' Manager of Scientific Affairs and Nutrition Education, in the press release. "Hence, 2021 holds broader trends that focus on improving nutrition to support our own health, as well as the health of our communities and our environment."The trends include:
- Vitamin D. The press release notes that vitamin D is essential for lung health, supporting positive moods, brain function, a healthy weight, children’s health, healthy blood sugar levels, and bone health, to name a few. However, 40-80% of American adults are deficient in vitamin D, and many more have suboptimal levels. Supplementation is particularly important for people of color, as darker skin hampers the body’s ability to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight.
- Everyday immune support. “We have recognized the importance of ‘armoring up,’” the press release says. Daily immune support through supplements like vitamin C and zinc will continue to trend in 2021, Natural Grocers predicts.
- Blood sugar balance. The press release notes that a “growing body of research” is showing that SARS-CoV-2 uses sugar to reproduce, putting individuals with type-2 diabetes at a higher risk for hospitalization and complications from COVID-19. Natural Grocers recommends diet and supplements like ALA that can help support insulin sensitivity.
- De-stressing. De-stressing is beneficial for immune health, and for overall health. Natural Grocers suggests stress-supporting supplements, and also compassion and empathy: “In addition to helping us connect with others, being empathetic also helps us regulate our emotions in times of stress. Call a loved one, wear a mask if you can, give a stranger a genuine compliment. It’s important to practice compassion and empathy this year, not only for others, but for yourself as well.”
- Olive oil. Coconut oil has had its time in the spotlight, and next year olive oil will return, thanks to its phenol and polyphenol content and anti-inflammatory activity.
- Sustainability. The press release points to the term “climatarian,” a person who makes food choices with the intention of changing how our food is grown—shifting from conventional farming to organic and regenerative.
- Affordable and healthy at home. Priorities have shifted as people realized that COVID was a long-haul game, and spending hours baking is no longer how customers are coping. Now, the Natural Grocers team says, customers are looking for quick and affordable meal solutions.
- Vegetables. As much as nutrition science has changed over the years, and regardless of what diet is trendy, we all need to eat more vegetables, and Natural Grocers’ team predicts that people will aim to pack in more to support health. The team recommends trying new vegetables, and promoting vegetables that are in-season.
- A return to basics. Our country’s poor overall health has been revealed by the coronavirus, and the Natural Grocers team predicts that customers will begin prioritizing health by going back to basics—getting proper sleep, working on a healthy diet, and making time for exercise.
- Customized fitness nutrition. No more grab-and-go post-workout foods; Natural Grocers’ educational team predicts that customers will transition towards pairing whole, real foods with supplements that aid recovery.