McKel (Hill) Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel (Hill) Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Dietitian, Founder

Hello, 2018! While many trends come and go, these ones are here to stay in our book.

A fresh new year brings a host of buzzworthy health and nutrition topics that are important to Nutrition Stripped and the NS philosophy.

All Things Gut Health

It’s safe to say that 2017 was the year of inflammation education and gut health. Gut health has always been a favorite topic of mine, from personal and professional experience, it’s fascinating to learn about this important system and how it affects all areas of health.

Our gut health is affected by many things including our diet (of course), stress levels, medication use, and in general our lifestyle. We must be mindful and feed our body with foods that promote healthy gut microflora and a healthy inner ecosystem. Consuming probiotic-rich foods and a plant-based diet loaded with fruit and vegetable fibers will do this really well without you even knowing it! To dive a little deeper, check out the guide to probiotics, the guide to healthy poop, and the basics of digestion.

Wellness Retreats

These wellness retreats are popping up in some of the most beautiful locations and some of them might be well worth your PTO days and travel expenses. With a focus on self-care, relaxation, eating well and everything that can nourish your body, mind, and spirit — this type of vacation is on my to-do list. Our friends at Well+Good recently announced their plans for wellness retreats with the help of fellow Wellness Council experts. Check out their debut retreat with the amazing Candace Kumai and Charlee Atkins in Palm Springs here. Otherwise, when researching wellness retreats, keep in mind the location, the activities, the “claims” and make sure they fit your lifestyle and goals.

Fermented Foods

Fermented in here to stay in 2018, my friends. Fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi have gained popularity over the years, and I expect will continue to be a mainstream focus, thanks to their health benefits. Fermented foods contain good bacteria and promote healthy digestion — the microflora creates a protective lining in the intestines while increasing our immune system. Bonus: they also play a part in curbing food cravings. As part of an influx of interest surrounding gut health, fermented foods definitely earn the limelight this year.

Plant-Rich Diets

Expect to see more plant-rich recipes and menu items in 2018, especially at restaurants. Growing awareness about health and nutrition research with plant-rich diets, environmental impact, and food waste amongst others, find more people opting to eat plant-rich meals, no matter what lifestyle they identify with (i.e. vegan or not). Recent studies have shown that choosing plant-rich has less of an impact on energy, land and water resources than meat-based diets. (1)

We talk a lot about plant-rich lifestyles a lot here on the NS Blog. Living a plant-rich lifestyle includes eating seasonally, local produce when available, and at the core, living in a way where we’re mindful of the connection between the source of our food and the nourishment it provides our body and mind. Therefore, it’s not another diet, fad, or dogma, it’s simply a lifestyle. This lifestyle embraces plant-rich, whole foods for optimal nutrition and nourishment. Read more about what plant-based means here.


Healthy Fast-casual Dining

This is one to get excited about! There are more healthy fast-casual restaurants and places to grab a smoothie, salad, or at least have a more varied menu including plant-rich options. We could be biased as we’re finally seeing this trickle to the South (in Nashville), but we’ve also had tabs on some successful key players in this industry boom and newcomers stand their ground.

A list of our favorites (and ones we’re longing to try!):

  • Deliciously Ella Delis: located in London at several locations providing all vegan options
  • Sweet Green: a make it yourself salad bar offering a wide variety of salad ingredients far beyond iceberg lettuce and shredded carrots
  • Sakara Life – not a restaurant but a delicious and nutrient-packed food delivery program, making healthy eating really easy for busy lifestyles
  • EiO + The Hive: located in Nashville, this place offers some of the best healthy drink options from kombucha on tap, turmeric sodas, juices, smoothies, and steamers.

Reducing Food Waste

In the US, we throw away a lot of food. In a 2012 study, researchers found that 31% to 40% of our food is thrown away after it’s harvested, without even hitting the plate. How much is that? More than 1,200 calories per person per day for each person. (2) Here are more scary stats: roughly 1/3 of the food produced in the world every year, which is approx. 1.3 billion ton, gets lost or wasted. Fruits and vegetables are the most wasted of any food. (3)

Limiting food waste is one of the simplest ways to make a meaningful social change for our climate, hunger, and poverty. Our friends at MindBodyGreen have shared great tips for reducing personal food waste, and continue to remind us of the impact it has on our world. Decreasing your personal waste may be as simple as changing the way food is stored! The Guide to Master Meal Planning, a year’s worth of meal planning recipes and tips, emphasizes intentional cooking with a focus on environment-friendly storage tips with glass containers and non-plastic food storage bags.

Simplicity Over Superfoods

Although matcha (4) and spirulina have been trending for the past couple years, we’re hoping simplicity and building the foundation of your health routine is far more important than micromanaging ingredients and focusing too heavily on the optimizer options. Last year the New York Times pulled together opinions from food critics, chefs, and general trend reporting and came up with these as food trends for 2017 (5) including a couple we called out for 2017: cannabis and spirulina both “superfoods”.

Cannabis, CBD, Edibles

Speaking of “superfoods”, cannabis, CBD oils, and edibles are still making their way mainstream and popping up more this year depending on our political climate. “With over 60 percent of Americans now supporting the full legalization of marijuana for adults, the momentum behind marijuana law reform will not only continue but increase as we head into 2018,” Erik Altieri, executive director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told Newsweek. (6) Edibles are popping up as well as products with CBD oil in them from oils, probiotic chocolates, candies, lotions, etc. — all aimed and claiming to decrease pain, anxiety, improve sleep, or just to “feel good”. (7) Cannabis has been used in medical applications for decades, especially in the management of symptoms of cancer treatments.(8) This area will be interesting to follow as new research comes out, and new products!

Evidence-Based Is Here To Stay

This should come as no surprise that this is a 2018 trend the NS team and I are all about. I created Nutrition Stripped to strip away the confusion from nutrition and wellness, through healthy recipes, science-backed articles and tips, and products. With a wealth of resources at our fingertips in 2018, we now have the power to see through click-bait and fluff that might not have best interests at heart. Evidence-based research continues to light the way to better understand how the human body works, which includes the effects that whole foods have on the body and the role they play in ultimately feeling amazing.

Chilling Out

If 2017 proved anything, it was that “staying in” is the new “going out.” Here on the blog, I share a lot about the importance of a balanced lifestyle and how to work with stress, deal with anxiety and practice mindfulness through morning routines and nighttime routines. This magical balance and celebration of the small things every day takes wellness from good to optimal and practicing hygge is one of my favorite ways to do so. I’m so on board with this trend for 2018, and I love seeing others jump on board with self-care, their health, and well-being in mind.


  1. And, D. P. (2003, September 01). David Pimentel.
  2. NRDC. Issue Paper: Wasted.
  3. Food and Agriculture Department of the United Nations. Key facts on food loss and waste you should know!
  4. Beverage Industry Trends 2017 Google
  5. New York Times 2017 Food Trends
  6. Marijuana Legalization 2018
  7. Cannabinoids for Medical Use: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  8. Cannabis and cancer: toward new understanding

Let’s Hear It

What do you think about these health trends for 2018? Anything you would add to the list? The team and I are excited to kick off the new year with a jam-packed editorial calendar full of thoughts and research about these topics. Let us know in the comments about the health trends you’re interested in learning about this year.

xx McKel