As we prepare to ring in the new year, those of us who work within the health and wellness sphere make it our business to identify emerging trends and information so that we can predict what is up and coming, and what is SO 2016.
Here are my predictions for 2017.
The Gut Brain Connection. Probiotics have become increasingly popular as a way to improve health and well-being. Studies have shown a direct correlation between gut microbes and the central nervous system.
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with two scientists from the University of Missouri this month who were as passionate as I am about mental health and the gut- brain connection.
Researchers at the University of Missouri have determined that a common probiotic sold in supplements and yogurt can decrease stress-related behaviour and anxiety. You can read more about their ground-breaking findings here.
Local and Sustainable. These words are increasingly being used in social media, in large grocery stores and in marketing meetings across the food industry. Voting with our dollar to support the local food movement has never been more on point. Farmers Markets are popping up in random cities, in response to the desire to meet the people who create, grow or make our consumables.
Self Love in Fitness and Health. Gone are the days of 'no pain no gain' type of attitude in the fitness industry. The pounding music. The squeezing into impossible stretch pants to reach a goal one must starve themselves to reach. The focus is on finding out the type of movement that brings joy and pleasure and the types of fitness activities one will maintain and enjoy for the long term.
Whether that activity is yoga, strength training, high intensity interval training, team sports or challenging friends to meet 10,000 daily steps, the goals are ones that are long term based for greater benefit and loving yourself back into shape instead of the beating yourself up into shape. People are rediscovering the joy of movement, and then taking a well deserved hot bath afterwards.
Plant Based Eating. If your mother always told you to eat your veggies, she was definitely on to something. The evidence continues to mount that a whole foods centred diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, lean plant-based proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates can very often combat heavy hitting diseases including cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Don't just take my word on it -- Dr. Kim A. Williams, the current president of the American College of Cardiology, is a vegan who urges his patients to adopt a whole foods plant-based diet to not only manage -- but also reverse the disease.
The hottest trend that I see coming out of this wider societal interest in plant based living is the growing popularity of jackfruit in the vegan and gluten-free worlds. Jackfruit has been used as a meat alternative in Asia for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. Jackfruit is very nutritious fruit that happens to bear a striking resemblance to meat when cooked. It can be found fresh in the U.S., but is usually available canned, which has helped jackfruit recipes propagate widely on vegan blogs and restaurants over the past few years.
Diets. The weight loss industry is $64-billion industry. After spending many billions of dollars, we are all coming to the important, life changing realization that calorie restriction isn't something one can maintain long term and that health must first be achieved before healthy weight loss occurs.
Weighing Ourselves. So many people are fixated on the numbers on the scale, but that number tells only a tiny portion of your health story. The true measure of health is one's waist circumference. The World Health Organization has identified the importance of abdominal fat mass (referred to as abdominal, central or visceral obesity), which can vary considerably within a narrow range of total body fat and body mass index (BMI), over looking simply at overall weight. Waist-hip ratio (i.e. the waist circumference divided by the hip circumference) was suggested as an additional measure of body fat distribution.
A 12‐year follow‐up study of middle‐aged men showed that abdominal obesity (measured as waist-hip ratio) was associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction, stroke and premature death, whereas these diseases were not associated with measures of generalized obesity such as BMI (Larsson et al., 1984). In women, BMI was associated with increased risk of these diseases; however, waist-hip ratio appeared to be a stronger independent risk factor than BMI (Lapidus et al., 1984). So, put away the scale, and get out that measuring tape!
Sleep Deprivation To Become More Productive. Gone are the days when we wear our lack of sleep as a badge of honour. More and more research is coming out showing that MORE sleep creates INCREASES productivity.
Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and former editor in chief of the Huffington Post, has identified in her book how sleep deprivation has profound consequences -- on our health, our job performance, our relationships and our happiness. Only by renewing our relationship with sleep can we take back control of our lives.
In a nutshell, if you want to be your healthiest self this year:
Grab a bowl of unsweetened yogurt, walk to the farmers market and buy some beautiful vegetables, take a hot bubble bath after your enjoyable workout, and then go to bed early. You've earned it.
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