As 2013 draws to a close, are we any closer to finding the one "best diet" that will bring us optimal health? The year brought us some new trends and revived some ideas from the past. Here are five popular diet and nutrition trends from 2013 as well as looking ahead to what is in store for 2014.The Paleo Diet
If it seems that everyone around you has gone Paleo, you’re right. Paleo earned the distinction as the number one searched for diet on Google. The general principal behind this diet is eating like our caveman ancestors did, which means meat and fish, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. It cuts out refined sugars and processed foods, salt, dairy, legumes and grains, which brings us to another popular trend...Gluten-Free
While people with the autoimmune disorder, celiac disease, need to eat gluten-free for medical reasons. But others have adopted this diet for possible health reasons such as "wheat belly" and "wheat brain." The gluten-free diet eschews several grains, including wheat (and its relatives, bulgur and farro), barley (and malt), rye, and triticale. It’s much easier to do this these days as gluten-free baked goods and ingredients are readily available in standard supermarkets as well as in specialty stores and bakeries. Alternative grains are coming into play, which makes for more interesting flavors as well: buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa, amaranth, rice and more.Kale
Some say kale is so last-year, but there are others out there who haven’t yet developed a love for this hardy, nutritious and versatile leafy green. 2013 was a great year to celebrate this cruciferous "superfood" with the first National Kale Day and release of several kale cookbooks, including the suggestively titled 50 Shades of Kale. Eating kale is one trend that has been around for a while — kale was popular as far back as Roman times.
Image: Bobbi Bowers via FlickrPlant-Based Diets
Plant-based diets are another diet as old as our ancestors but revamped for modern times. There are many varieties of eating plant-based, ranging from the most restrictive vegan diets to the more casual flexitarian or omnivore diets. Whether you label your diet with one of these terms or not, science supports eating as many plant-based foods as you can. Many research studies have shown that vegetarians live the longest, and recent analyses have shown that vitamin supplements don’t have the nutritional power that we can get from eating whole fruits and vegetables.Apps
There’s an app for that: everyone and their mother seems to use one of the new technology-based apps or devices to help monitor and improve their diet and fitness. Devices such as the FitBit and Jawbone Up monitor your activity, while other apps such as Lose It and MyFitnessPal allow you to track your intake. Scientific evidence supports the logging of our diet and activity to improving our health; technology just makes it easier.
Looking back at 2013, it seems that everything old is new again. Who knows what 2014 will bring in diet trends, but minimally processed, plant-based foods are likely to be part of whatever comes our way. So clip on your FitBit, slip your Up bracelet on your wrist, and walk to your nearest farmer’s market.
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