How people are eating for mind and body in 2021

Press/Media: Expert Comment


FEED a cold, starve a fever is an adage that’s been around for centuries.Whether the old saying is borne out by modern science is debatable, but what is clear is that since the first lockdown began, almost 12 months ago, people have been making a concerted effort to eat and drink in a way that better supports their physical and mental health.This can be seen in the latest Global Dietary Lifestyles Report by Irish state-sponsored food body Bord Bia, which gathered responses from over 18,000 people across nine countries.It found nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of consumers are trying to eat more healthily and more than half (56 per cent) are trying to exercise more.In a direct response to Covid, nearly a third (31 per cent) of those surveyed now take vitamin and mineral supplements daily in a bid to boost their immune systems.Fruit and veg consumption have also shot up over the past year, with 95 per cent saying they ate vegetables at least once a week (up 30 per cent compared with the previous year), while 90 per cent said they consume fruit weekly or more often (an annual rise of 27 per cent).What preys on people’s minds is often revealed by analysing what they’re looking for on internet search engines.Jostling for position, along with weight-loss, in terms of popular search terms, ‘immunity-boosting’ has been on shoppers’ minds during the pandemic.A recent study in the British Medical Journal by Rachul C et al (2020) analysed more than 200 web pages using the key words ‘boost immunity’ and ‘coronavirus’ and found the top strategies for boosting immunity were vitamin C (34.8 per cent), diet (34.4 per cent), sleep (34.4 per cent), exercise (30.8 per cent) and zinc (26.9 per cent).The idea of ‘functional food’, designed with a specific health benefit, has taken hold.Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of the Bord Bia survey respondents said the health properties of a food were more important than how it tastes.We’ve seen a host of new products going to market, with explicit claims to around their benefits, both physical and mental.An Australian company, ‘Mindful Foods’, has developed a wide range of products that use ingredients which claim to nourish our bodies and the earth.Its Stardust nutrient powder claims to promote longevity, while the range also includes organic ‘tummy tea’ and a Cacao Brain Power activated granola.Lizi’s Super Muesli Focus Hazelnut, Pecan and Maca Cereal, for example, contains vitamin B6 to help ‘normal psychological function’ as well as zinc, which supports cognitive function (Mintel, 2021).German company Gëwurzmühle Brecht has come up with a relaxing formulation with its ‘Inner Calm Relaxing Seasoning Mix’ containing Ceylon cinnamon, cocoa and ashwagandha.It can be added to porridge, desserts, yogurt or juice. The same company has also come up with a ‘Good Night Relaxing Seasoning Mix’ (Mintel, 2021).Koios Nootropic drinks are described as “products that use natural ingredients, backed by science”.It features a range of nootropic ingredients such as lion’s mane mushroom, coconut MCT oil and L-theanine (US) (Mintel, 2021).For those 55 per cent who said finding convenience foods that fitted in with their efforts to eat more healthily, an Israeli food tech company, Anina, has produced a 100 per cent natural, microwavable meal ‘capsule’, using unwanted vegetables and coated in an edible laminate substance that’s nutrient-dense and ready in just eight minutes! (Food Navigator 2020)While the Bord Bia report showed an increased emphasis on eating to support better physical health, it wasn’t typified by monastic levels of discipline.It was noted by the report’s authors that during this stressful period people were showing more flexibility in their diets than the last time the survey was carried out in 2018. A flexitarian diet proved by some margin the most popular (19 per cent) with nine per cent of respondents saying they were vegetarians and two per cent vegans.While people’s diets were consciously aimed at being healthy, there was a recognition that ‘life gets in the way’.Perhaps because of a lack of alternative distractions, people have been thinking more about how they feed themselves.Thanks to the innovation of food companies around the world, those focused on nutrition will not be starved of options!n If you are interested in finding out more about consumer trends the Food and Drink Business Development Centre will be running a free DfE funded course on Food Choice, Culture and Environment (20 credit points) from May 5. Please register online at or contact the Course Director Dr Lynsey Hollywood

Period4 Mar 2021

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleHow people are eating for mind and body in 2021
    Media name/outletFarm Week
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    PersonsLynsey Elizabeth Hollywood