Herbalife Experts Predict 10 Nutrition and Health Trends in 2017

It’s a time of unprecedented connection. Knowledge has taken quantum leaps, and now we have a deeper understanding of how our bodies work – especially when it comes to the brain and the microbiomes in our gut. Mobile technology enables people to learn, play and exercise wherever and whenever they want. In 2017, all these personalized forces will come together for positive change, which is why we’re calling it THE YEAR OF YOU.

We spoke with 10 of our trusted experts from different disciplines within the Herbalife Nutrition community about what trends they see gaining traction in 2017, and while everyone had a slightly different view depending on their area of expertise, most see that customization and deepening knowledge as the hallmark of the year to come. Whether it’s diet, exercise, medical treatment or other wellness initiatives, the common thread is that more people will be able to meet their health and fitness goals with individualized plans and on their own terms.

John Agwunobi, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H.

Co-President and Chief Health & Nutrition Officer

High-Performance Customer Engagement

We have an increased focus on our customers this year. Though they have always been foremost in what we do, we now have the “perfect storm” that enables us to deepen our engagement with consumers of our products. There are three correlating factors:

  1. Distributor commitment: Herbalife Nutrition Independent Distributors are deeply focused on training and expanding their knowledge. They not only whole-heartedly believe in our products, but they’ve committed to healthy living and a broad, balanced lifestyle, and are happy to share what they know with their networks.
  2. Our global reach: We’re in 94 countries, and it’s easier than ever for us to connect with all kinds of people around the world through social media and online channels. This helps us better communicate, better educate, and better personalize the offering for each individual.
  3. Science: We’re emphasizing the science behind our products now more than ever. Our products deliver results, especially when you combine them with healthy eating, active lifestyle and the coaching that is being brought to the customer by our distributors.

There is a trend in the marketplace towards personalization and customization, and we are on top of that. We build a unique product for each customer, and we’re able to do this now because we have more channels to learn about them through nutrition profiling, questionnaires and listening closely to what they want and need.

At the beginning of the year, many people ask themselves, “Can I do better?” when it comes to nutrition and wellbeing. And we are here to help them.

One of our distributors told me an amazing story. He’d met someone who had been a serial dieter, gaining and losing in cycles throughout his life. Finally, when the customer found Herbalife Nutrition, he was able to make goals, meet them, and stick to a healthy, active lifestyle. The distributor asked him why dieting had never worked before. The man’s simple answer:  “When I joined Herbalife, it was the first time I wasn’t alone. It was the first time that as I set my goals and planned for my future, there was someone right there, to support me, to coach me, and to celebrate my accomplishments as I pursued those goals.”

What we bring to the table is, “You’re not alone.”

Lou Ignarro, Ph.D.

Nobel* Laureate in Medicine and Member, Nutrition Advisory Board

Nitric Oxide Will Get the Attention it Deserves

I won a Nobel* Prize in medicine for my work connecting the body’s nitric oxide molecules to health. But nitric oxide, called a “miracle molecule,” gets very little attention on its own. I hope that changes in 2017.

There are about 60,000 miles of arteries and veins in the average person. All of those arteries and veins contain 60 trillion endothelial cells, and each one of those cells produces nitric oxide to protect our cardiovascular system against damage and aging. Nitric oxide helps the body:

Once people are more aware of nitric oxide, their diet and lifestyle will be more important than ever. Exercise and eating healthy protein, unsaturated fats, omega-3 fats, and anti-oxidants are good for promoting nitric oxide in the body.  Stress, saturated fats and a sedentary lifestyle all work against nitric oxide production.

People with the most nitric oxide are babies and children, but the levels decline as we age. On average, nitric oxide levels are higher in women (estrogen helps to stimulate and maintain production) until menopause, which may be one reason they usually enjoy good cardiovascular health in their youth.

And even if you don’t know its name, nitric oxide will continue to work for you, as it always has.

Samantha Clayton

Vice President, Worldwide Fitness Education

Personalized, Fun Fitness

I’ve been in the fitness world for 15 years and have traveled to more than 52 countries to lead massive group fitness sessions for Herbalife Nutrition (the biggest was 5,000 people!). One thing I can say with certainty: There are a lot of workout fads that come and go.

In 2016, we saw a lot of tough challenges get tougher – muddier courses, steeper climbs, that kind of thing – and I think they will continue to get scarier. But in 2017, these workouts will adapt so people who are less in shape but still want to have fun can mix up their routines.

Another prediction is the evolution of fusion classes. In 2016 we saw a lot of “dual fusion” classes, like Pilates plus boxing – Piloxing. We also saw spinning get an upgrade with resistance training added. This year, I imagine people are going to start getting creative and combining three styles of fitness. You might see some kind of cardio-strength-yoga fusion classes coming up. Why is that important? By mixing different elements of fitness together, you can reach a broader number of people – so these classes are more approachable to someone, for example, who might know about Pilates but nothing about boxing.

Finally, I’m loving how fitness is becoming more mobile. People are accessing fitness online. This year, with more virtual classes taking place, more people will be able to work out who otherwise may not. They’ll also be able to customize classes into time blocks and styles that work for them.

Fitness is a personal journey. It’s not a “one size fits all,” and what works for you might not work for someone else. I envision 2017 to be quite an empowering year for the consumer of exercise.

Dr. Rocio Medina, M.D.

Vice President, Worldwide Nutrition Training and Vice Chairwoman, Nutrition Advisory Board

Vitamin D Has Its Day in the Sun

In the old days, doctors didn’t think too much about vitamin D, because they figured most people would get it from the sun. But now that we have a more comprehensive understanding of the damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, we cover up with sunscreen. We’re blocking out harmful radiation, but we’re also blocking out 90 percent of the vitamin D we need. That, combined with imbalanced diets, has resulted in a global deficiency of vitamin D – particularly in northern communities.

We’ve known vitamin D is critically important for bone health because it enables calcium absorption. But more current research is showing it’s vital to our cardiovascular health, for our muscle health, our immune system, and may even help to prevent some cancers (although this area of research is new and the connections are not yet proven). I think this year more people will be paying attention to vitamin D.

I’ve noticed more doctors are ordering routine vitamin D deficiency tests for their patients, and this is important. There aren’t normally too many early symptoms – you just start losing bone density or have a lower immune response. So when you test for it, at least you can have a plan to combat it.

We need more vitamin D every day than we previously thought. The old daily intake recommendations were 200-400 international units (IU), but now we’re looking at new research that shows 400-600 IU is preferable and some doctors are recommending much more (but watch out for overdosing by taking more than 10,000 IU over a prolonged period as it is possible to get too much of a good thing).

You can find your vitamin D from fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel, canned tuna and mushrooms. Vitamin D is also added to milk and some cereals. D-3 absorbs faster than D-2, but they both work.

And of course, for a boost, you can take a walk in the sun for a minute before applying your SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.

Dr. David Heber, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.S.N.

Chairman, Herbalife Nutrition Institute

Personalized Diets

Looking at 2017, I think the new diet will be the YOU diet. That means more people will have personalized elements to what and how they eat and how they exercise.

Bringing a higher level of precision to dieting is important because if you just cut your calories, you lose protein and fat from your body. As you lose muscle or lean body mass, your calorie burning ability goes down by 14 calories per pound. That means you will gain weight even eating the same amount of food as before, because you are not burning as many calories.

Protein will continue to be important, especially from quality sources such as egg whites, soy and whey. Vegetarians and vegans have to be especially careful in how they balance their proteins to get adequate vitamins, minerals, and the proper amino acids, because they have to use the proteins in combination – think rice and beans.

I just co-wrote a textbook called Primary Care Nutrition: Writing in the Nutrition Prescription in which we’re urging doctors to lead with nutrition rather than medication. It’s my hope that as our healthcare system continues to evolve, more doctors will help their patients get in front of preventable diseases through promoting a healthy, active lifestyle. The potential public health benefits, in addition to improving health and life quality, could also include savings of $200 billion a year spent on diseases in the United States, including diabetes and heart disease, brought on by poor eating habits.

Some of the larger health maintenance organizations are starting to focus on prevention. My prediction is even more medical professionals will take note. And because genetic analysis tools get better every year, we may be able to see problems in advance and mitigate them with diet and lifestyle choices.

Social media will continue to play a growing role in people’s health and fitness. Users can share progress (and setbacks!) with their communities, research exercises, and, because everyone’s mobile, they can work out pretty much wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them.

John Heiss, Ph.D.

Senior Director, Sports and Fitness, Worldwide Product Marketing


Consumers are becoming more informed and more skeptical and are demanding to know more about what is in their foods. And that’s why for 2017, I think we’re going to see a bump in transparency from producers – not only in labeling food, but also in moving toward more recognizable ingredients and whole foods.

We’ll probably see prefixes like “modified” or obscure ingredients fade away a bit, and, instead, see something more descriptive like “purple cauliflower powder” or “ginger root extract,” both of which a consumer can better relate to and understand what’s actually in their food.

And instead of adding individual ingredients like “vitamin A,” manufacturers might include a more recognizable food, like dried spinach powder, that inherently contains an assortment of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A. Essentially, food manufacturers and processers will keep more of a connection to the actual food that came from the ground or off the tree.

Why all this now? Social media is allowing people to share more information faster and to connect with like-minds. It also helps give a larger voice to those who may not have been heard before.

I predict there will be even more shelf space on stores for better food, and that will make it more accessible to consumers. Initially, these foods will be priced higher as most companies will pass the cost of “cleaner labels” to the consumer. It’s foreseeable though, if consumers are willing to pay more for these types of foods, economies of scale could eventually reduce the increased costs. So 15 years ago you saw powdered greens probably only at obscure health food stores. Now in some places there are entire sections devoted to it – and even the most mainstream grocery store will have one or two varieties. The change is coming, and we’ll all be better off for it.

Dr. Gary Small, M.D.

Member, Nutrition Advisory Board

A Better Understanding of the Brain

I’m a geriatric psychiatrist, and I’ve done a lot of research on brain health and longevity. The trajectory of brain science has advanced over the last few decades at a pace that is similar to progress in technology. Only 40 years ago, we marveled at electric typewriters, and today we’re all carrying around smartphones – supercomputers in our pockets. We’ve seen similar progress in our understanding of the brain. There’s been a huge explosion of discoveries, and it’s a very exciting time that is only going to continue. We’ll likely even see more innovations this year compared to what we observed in 2016.

We’ve learned about the connection between spices and brain health, and we’re closer to discovering how the spice curcumin (from turmeric) may stave off age-related cognitive decline through its antioxidant and immune-boosting effects. In the lab, curcumin fights the amyloid plaque that builds up in aging and causes problems with memory. Spicing up our meals is an exciting approach and could become a way to optimize the nutritional effect on brain health.

We’ve been doing a lot of work looking at memory training and physical exercise, and these and other studies point to a formula for brain-health success: Good nutrition, active lifestyle, stress management and mental stimulation. There is a strong correlation between physical exercise – both aerobic conditioning and strength training – and better mood, sharper mental capacity and greater brain health. Just 20 minutes a day is fine, you don’t have to be a triathlete. We also know consuming enough omega-3 fats through fish, nuts, and flax seeds, and eating antioxidant fruits and vegetables, bolsters the brain as we age, because oxidative stress causes wear and tear to our brain cells over time.

Sometimes when I advise patients and tell them they’ve got to eat right and exercise, they say, “That’s fine Doc, but do you have a pill?” So that brings up the question of how we can help people change and develop healthy brain habits.  That’s another area I’m excited about – developing fun and effective programs that motivate and incentivize people to make these kinds of changes in their lives. If we can get people to start an easy program that’s enjoyable and gives them baby steps, they start noticing improvement very quickly. Once they enjoy those benefits, they’re motivated to continue their brain-healthy lifestyle for the long haul. That’s the key to living better longer and remaining mentally sharp for life.

Dana Ryan, Ph.D., M.A.

Senior Manager, Sports Performance and Education

Sports Nutrition into Mainstream

High protein snacks have generally been placed in the category of elite sports nutrition; however there has been a slow transition of these products into the mainstream markets. As a sign that this is a trend that will continue, it is now common to see 20-gram protein bars in grocery stores and even in gas stations as opposed to just specialized health food stores. The reason being is people are starting to understand the importance of increasing their daily protein while decreasing excess sugar. High protein snacks can help increase satiety, and for those that are exercising, can help build lean muscle mass. In particular there has been a large increase in the number of women interested in these types of snacks.

 Personalized Nutrition

There will be an increased focus on personalized nutrition. With the wide variety of foods, diets and exercise options, it is important to customize a lifestyle plan that fits the needs of each person. Blanket advice can only help so much. For example, if you look just at weight loss there are countless reasons someone would want to lose weight: for health, more energy, to look better at the beach and so on. All of these goals require a different approach, so when working with someone who wants to lose weight it is important to listen and understand exactly what is motivating them.



*The Nobel Foundation has no affiliation with Herbalife Nutrition and does not review, approve or endorse Herbalife® products.

David Heber, M.D., PhD, FACP, FASN – Chairman, Herbalife Nutrition Institute

David HeberM.D., PhD, FACP, FASN – Chairman, Herbalife Nutrition Institute

Dr. David Heber is the Chairman of the Herbalife Nutrition Institute (HNI), which promotes excellence in nutrition education for the public and scientific community and sponsors scientific symposia. The HNI Editorial Board is made up of key scientific opinion leaders from around the world in the fields of nutrition, exercise physiology, behavioral medicine and public health.