Updated: Jan 9, 2019
With 2019 just kicking off, I wanted to look at some of the rising trends that I hope will continue in to 2019 and beyond in relation to our health and wellness.
Personalized Medicine Will Become Higher in Demand
More and more people are looking past the traditional doctors’ offices and hospitals for more personalized forms of both preventative and curative health care. While both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Indian Ayurvedic medicine, as well as the naturopathic routes have always been concerned with finding the primary source of illness, traditional western medicine is for the most part only concerned about treating or reducing symptoms.
Well times are a changing! Now a days people are looking much more into personalized and functional medicine routes, something that only 2 or 3 years ago most people didn’t even know existed. These personalized and functional approaches take the more eastern and holistic philosophy of looking for the sources of illness, through more ‘science based means' including; testing of blood, hair analysis, genetics, high-res scans like a DEXA Scan, biome testing and more.
Many of these tests are now even available to everyday people without the need for any doctor referrals such as DNA testing for your health and fitness from companies like the Canadian based dnaPower. Their tagline ‘empower your health’really does sum up the message people are now looking for.
N.E.A.T. Awareness will Continue to March Forward
More and more studies are showing us that our western lifestyle is killing us, and one large part of that is our static lack of movement and just sitting too darn much. We have now learned that the average North American only takes between 4,200 – 4,800 steps per day, while the averages in countries like China, Japan, and Hong Kong are all well into the 6,000s. We are also seeing that sitting in our typical 90 degree angle does little for benefitting our overall health, limiting range of motion, disrupting blood flow, shutting down major muscle groups, and much more. This is where NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis comes into play.
More and more people are starting to see that our gym culture has failed us, and that the stats are showing us we aren’t getting any better even with all these studios, big box gyms and fitness classes popping up on every corner, and we need to do more. Our lifestyle has caused a dramatic reduction in daily movement and position, and that has caused a lowering in both calorie expenditure and mobility. Interestingly studies that have shown us that people who are considered fidgetters burn more calories overall than their non-fidgeting counterparts.
Many workspaces and offices are now adding use of standing desks such as the Canadian based AnthroDesk Standing Desk as a great way to START to solve that problem. However, using a standing desk alone isn’t the solution, hence why I emphasized the word start. But it’s having an entire workspace optimization system that is really the key. I personally like the AnthroDesk standing desk, because asides being solid and very sturdy, with the simple push of a button it can rise and lower to both sitting and standing heights, allowing you to easily change positions throughout the day. Adding to that, having a small timer set to go off every 30 minutes or so, will remind you to take a quick walk or do a few desk friendly stretches and exercises (see my YouTube channel for some routine examples I use).
Besides using a standing desk at work, you can also look into more functional furniture like standing kitchen tables, low beds, low Japanese style dining tables, sitting on Swiss balls instead of chairs, sitting on the floor with a zabuton, zafu, floor cushions or yoga mats, and even using a shag rug to lie on and do some simple stretches. In the washroom, you can even use a Squatty Potty to get into that elusive deep squat position often reserved for only in the gym.
Circadian Rhythm Importance Will Influence Architecture, Design & Health
We are now realizing that we need to get back in touch with our bodies natural rhythms and that our circadian rhythm optimization is of the upmost importance. From being productive at work, to getting a goodnights rest, controlling our circadian rhythm is very important. Research and books by doctors such as Dr. Sachin Panada are showing us that the dysregulation of our circadian rhythm can have dramatic effects on weight, memory, cognition, a heck of a lot of chronic health risks, and more.
Because of this we are now seeing a new focus in home lighting, and meal timing coming into favor, particularly in blue-light reducing technology in the evening, with products such as the Bedtime Bulb starting to appear online and inside wellness shops across North America. The use of blue light blocking glasses is now starting to become the norm in the homes and routines of many higher level health activists, and will slowly trickle its way down into the masses over 2019 and beyond. This circadian research and awareness has also lead to more people looking at ways to better prevent jet lag as we are continuing to travel the globe more.
EMF Awareness will Radiate
As we are getting bombarded more and more with invisible digital pollution, more and more health professionals and researchers are starting to really raise the awareness of the importance of understanding EMFs and our health.
Once strictly reserved for the tin foil hat wearing population, the focus on EMF dangers is moving into the mainstream. With our daily exposures to Radio Frequencies, Magnetic Fields, Electric Fields and Dirty Electricity rising, we are starting to understand how these can affect us at the genetic level.
Only time will tell if the voices of the EMF whistle blowers will be heard and attention headed, but with todays (and the irony is not lost) internet savvy culture, I think they will.
Being One With Nature Will Continue to ‘Grow’
Classical Chinese feng shui and Indian Vastu are both ancient traditions of living in balance with nature, and the west quickly is starting to catch on. Countries like Japan, and religions like Buddhism have for a long time been aware of the importance of nature and the balance of technology with nature, but the west has long been more concerned for the former. However the new design and architecture movement of Biophilic Design is catching on fast and hard in many cities, businesses and even private homes. The city state of Singapore has gone on record saying that its goal is to be a “city in a garden”, and they are well on their way, leading the planet in green spaces and biophilic architecture.
Biophilic design accounts for plant life, sunshine, air flow and water flow. Whether it’s simply adding more air care plants to ones home, to more elaborate ‘living green walls’, to entire forest-office spheres being constructed, biophilic design and the health benefits that go along with it are only going to, excuse the pun, grow. From improved hospital recovery times, decreases in crime, improved worker productivity, increases in retail rental property, biophilic design isn’t going anywhere.
Stress Free Focused Home Areas
We now know that stress is a killer, and is linked to many, if not most major diseases. Some medical professionals have even stated that nearly all disease is stress related. But we are doing a terrible job at reducing stress in the western world. This has begun to make many people aware that we need to create spaces that will allow for us to better destress and try to engage the Relaxation Response, wherein we encourage our bodies to release a number of chemicals to induce the para-sympathetic system, making our muscles and organs slow down and recovery processes, or rest-and-digest to occur.
Taking a page from both the Indian Pooja room, or the Japanese Buddhist Butsudan, people are now building their own ‘shrines to recovery’ if you will. Personally, I call them Zen Zones, and they are an important part of my clients personal health design. A small carved out area of the home or office that is focused on recovery and down regulation. It could be a meditation corner, a stretching and rolling out area, or a small area to read or play an instrument. The point is, like a kitchen is a room to cook, the bathroom a place to, well you know, or the bedroom a place to sleep, the Zen Zone is a place to recover, be still and focus on being mindful. Many are as simple as a floor cushion by a window, and a few calming pieces of art, and maybe a small essential oil diffuser.
Chemicals in Our Daily Lives are Going to Continue to be Pushed into Awareness
By now we are aware that BPA has been removed from a lot of plastics, but many are less aware that it was just replaced with BPS, which is no better. Going into the future though, the demand for more natural ingredients is going to continue to rise. From cosmetics, to soaps, to air fresheners, to even the colors used in clothing. I personally know a person who is currently starting a business to design natural Indian Sarees for her local Indian community using only natural dyes and materials.
The foods we eat are of course a huge call for concern as more and more people are wanting to move towards such things as cleaner sources, local grown, and organic, but I think we also need to be aware of products that help us clean all of our foods better, such as the EatCleaner brand of food hygiene washes.
The attention paid to such topics as carcinogens, toxins and xenoestrogens will continue to be pushed to the forefront of health concerns, and air pollution will finally get its due attention.
There are many more areas of growth that I see the wellness industry going, but these are defiantly my top favourite trends. The only one I think I could also add is Extreme Temperature Exposure for health, using both saunas and cold water/air exposures frequently.
Have you adopted any of these? Or what do you think of my list? Comment below.