Slim Blog

What's so about 'Functional Foods'

29th July 2016

Research shows that Millennials feed their growing interest in health and wellness via search. According to a newly released Google Food Trends Report, ‘functional foods,’ is on the ascendancy and here’s why.

A look at today’s dinner table reveals how very different it looks from what it did a decade ago. For starters, a smartphone will very likely be plonked next to the fork. Each plate will also probably feature a different meal: mom’s Paleo, dad’s vegan, the kids’ gluten-and nut-free.

A glance at this might lead one to think these changes are unrelated. But thanks to technology, people are actually more thoughtful about what they feed themselves and their families.

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Fuelling interest in health and wellness with digital

The focus of people’s diets today is less about eliminating foods, than about adding them.

This growing obsession with health, is in part probably due to the fact that people are living longer, and want their extra years to be healthy. However, it probably all boils down to the fact that digital has a major role to play in our health food fixations.

Coming to the point, there’s a growing consumer interest in the health-enhancing role of what experts call “functional foods.” Some of the top trending foods over the last two years are ingredients like turmeric, apple cider vinegar, avocado oil, bitter melon, and kefir (all high in a trendy bacteria called probiotics). These foods are said to offer benefits like better skin, libido, energy, or cures for depression, insomnia, and pain.

While the functional food concept has been around for decades, interest in these foods is growing faster than before. Searches for turmeric, are said to be growing 300% over the last five years; making it a ‘Rockstar’ amongst functional foods.

We’re all familiar with those ‘what-do-I-eat moments’, where we typically pull out our smartphones to find information on healthy foods. These moments, mostly happen at the start of the week, when we may be planning meals, making grocery lists, or re-committing ourselves to healthy eating after an over indulgent weekend. While our searches peak on Mondays, they probably slowly decline throughout the week, until interest reaches its lowest point on Fridays; when we tend to reward ourselves for working hard all week.

Beyond wanting to know what to eat, we want to know how to eat it. This leads to searching for different forms and recipes. Taking turmeric as an example, we probably are looking for better understand how to consume it and incorporate it into their diets; top associated searches include ‘powder,’ ‘smoothie,’ ‘recipe,’ and ‘drink.’

Catering to our growing interest and appetite for ‘functional foods”, food brands are coming up with creative ways to use these ingredients. A growing number of YouTube videos for instance show turmeric being used for teeth whitening, face masks, dying clothes; while apple cider vinegar is being focussed on as a conditioner, facial cleanser, and foot soak

Brands are also seem to be ‘healthifying’ their products, by adding functional ingredients. Supermarket shelves seem to show more ingredients like chia, flax and probiotics being added to crackers, chocolate, and gummies. Moon Juice, a trendy health food spot in LA, for instance, has a line of products named after their benefits, viz. ‘Beauty Dust,’ ‘Brain Dust,’ ‘Goodnight Dust’. Even beauty brands seem to be capitalising on these trends.

Trending functional ingredients seem to make their way into the product packs; some examples of which are: Turmeric & Cranberry SeedEnergising Radiance Masque, Apple Cider Vinegar 4-in-1 Foaming Clay, and Coconut Milk Shampoo. Nestlé is reportedly looking at creating a category of ‘medical foods, to treat diseases.

So the next time you’re out shopping or searching during a ‘what-do-I-eat moment’; look out for ‘functional foods’, which are really natural ingredients that have been on kitchen and store shelves for a year, which are being ‘rediscovered’ and coming back into health food fashion.

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