Wellness Watch 2018: 6 Trends To Try In The New Year

We’re going to learn a lot about ourselves in 2018.

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We spent 2017 eating avocados, sipping bone broth, and breathing in essential oils. Some of the big trends of this year are probably going to stick with us for a while (#AvocadoToastForLife), but 2018 is bringing us a whole host of new things worth trying in the pursuit of health and wellness. As we head into the new year, the variety of new foods we’ll get to eat and workouts we can opt to tackle are endless. But what [linkbuilder id=”5664″ text=”fitness trends”] will get you up and moving in 2018 and what eats will find their way onto your breakfast table? Read on to explore the surprises and advances that are in store for the new year…

1. Digging Into DNA

One of Amazon’s top Black Friday sellers wasn’t a hot toy or a big TV. It was a DNA testing kit—and this is a trend that’s just getting started, says Jennipher Walters, founder and CEO of Fit Bottomed Girls. While DNA testing used to be either exorbitantly expensive and thus limited to medical needs, in recent years, at-home testing has allowed people to dig deeper into their genealogy. New advances have taken the at-home tests one step further, empowering people to access information about their own bodies and well-being thanks to more detailed results.

Testing is rapidly becoming a powerful purveyor of medical information and is on its way to being a standard aspect of the average person’s healthcare.

“Individual tests … are delivering medically actionable results that can change people’s healthcare plans and even save people’s lives,” explains Ben Kobren, a spokesperson from Color, a company that offers testing for the BRCA breast cancer gene and other hereditary disorders. “For too long, high costs and other barriers prevented large populations who could otherwise benefit from learning risks of hereditary disease from genetic testing, but today that testing is rapidly becoming a powerful purveyor of medical information and is on its way to being a standard aspect of the average person’s healthcare.” An increasing number of testing companies are offering tests that detect cancer genes and allow people to better understand their risk for high cholesterol and conditions that can be addressed with their physicians, empowering them to develop a plan to mitigate, if not eliminate, their risk. When Walters took her own test, she says she found out more about how her body is designed to react to diet and nutrition than she could have learned in a decade of trial and error with food and workouts. For some people, the results can do even more, Kobren says. “The expertise that goes into a clinical-grade test—board-certified genetic experts analyzing data, interpreting genetic variants, reviewing and signing out reports—makes the information they provide highly reliable and, in many cases, life-changing because they’re medically actionable,” Kobren notes. “Recreational genomics can be fascinating. Clinical genetic testing could change or even save your life.”

2. Working Out Your Way

If you’ve been mixing up your week with boxing on Mondays, yoga on Wednesdays, and maybe a step class here and there, consider yourself ready for 2018. Committing yourself to only one type of fitness is old school, Walters says. “People are finally getting that there is no one-size-fits-all approach [to fitness],” she notes. That’s reflected not just in allowing people to customize their workouts within a particular discipline but also in how people are looking to diversify their routines, spending time dabbling in different forms of fitness to touch on the whole body.

People are opting for ways to stay fit for reasons besides superficial ones.

“In general, the days of doing just tons and tons of cardio [are] over, unless you’re training for a race or something,” she notes. Fitness expert Nadia Murdock says the diversification trend will move us toward treating exercise as medicine—a way to treat our bodies rather than “improve” them—in 2018. “People are opting for ways to stay fit for reasons besides superficial ones, fixing common ailments with workouts and improving lifestyle practices have larger rewards,” Murdock says. For example, she notes that impact workouts are excellent for improving bone strength and could remedy osteoporosis. Yoga, on the other hand, offers stretching that can undo the damage done to the body by long hours in front of a computer. In 2018, expect trends that will support you in giving your whole body attention, whether that manifests as CrossFit gyms that also offer yoga classes or wellness centers where you can find yoga and pole dancing classes alongside acupuncture and massage services.

3. Sleep for Strength

Sleep has been getting the short end of the stick for decades now, with most of us falling woefully short of the doctor-recommended seven to nine hours of shut-eye. If you’re one of the many sleep-deprived Americans, you’ll fall hard for this 2018 health and wellness trend: sleep! “For years we’ve pushed to diet harder, work out harder, and stretch ourselves thinner,” Chris Brantner of SleepZoo tells HealthyWay. “We are just now beginning to understand that sleep is crucial for our health. Our muscles actually grow post workout during sleep. Adequate rest helps us lose weight and make wiser food choices. Meanwhile, new studies show that not getting enough sleep disrupts metabolism and hormones, increasing obesity risk. In fact, data suggests that [linkbuilder id=”5668″ text=”people who sleep more”] tend to have lower BMIs.”

Club members curl up with music, sleep masks, and cool temperatures for 45-minute naps.

Of course, you can sleep at home. But if you’re struggling to catch enough Zs when you’re snuggled in bed (raises hand, guiltily), Napercise could be 2018’s answer to your problem. Think napping…in exercise class form. “During these classes, club members curl up with music, sleep masks, and cool temperatures for 45-minute naps,” Brantner explains. Started in Britain by fitness club David Lloyd in 2017, Napercise was designed to “reinvigorate the mind, the body and even burn the odd calorie,” according to the club website, which explains, “The frantic nature of modern life means that few of us seem to get enough sleep, and if you’re a parent, a good night’s rest becomes even more of a luxury. So we’ve created a new group class—group napping classes for exhausted mums and dads to help boost their mental and physical wellbeing.” The trend has jumped the pond, and it’s expected to take hold in the U.S. in 2018. “I think this is only the beginning,” Brantner says. “In this fast-paced world, the pendulum is swinging back, and we’ve only begun to realize how important sleep is. More and more research is coming out linking lack of sleep to things like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and other ailments. “I think lack of sleep and fatigue are growing due to an increasingly fast-paced way of living, as well as an obsession with our devices (teen sleep, for example, seems to have decreased in direct relation with social media and smartphones).” He concludes, “I think new technology like sleep trackers (think Fitbit, Sleep Cycle app, etc.) are making people more aware of the type of sleep they are getting.” Sound familiar? Time to take a nap!

4. Food as Medicine

The word diet has long been a dirty word, one we associate with weight struggles and deprivation. But 2018 could offer a new take on the term according to April Peveteaux, author of the Gluten Is My Bitch cookbook series. While some people still look to diets for weight control, Peveteaux sees an increasing number of people turning to food as a means to treat the body, with diets designed to address specific issues—be they gluten-free (Peveteaux started her popular blog shortly after being diagnosed with celiac disease), anti-inflammatory, or otherwise. “The most common is an anti-inflammation diet (Whole30, Paleo, anti-lectin, plant based) to calm the body down to keep it from reacting,” she says. “[There’s also] cutting out hormones and anything that has antibiotics as a way to keep those things out of your system and not causing inflammation and cancer and cutting out sugar for the same reasons: inflammation and cancer growth.” Eat for health in 2018 with:

5. Biohacking

We’ve been hearing about hacking computers for decades, but hacking the body is a relatively new idea that can sound a little scary. A Pew Research Center survey from 2016 showed that the majority of Americans were worried about biomedical technologies. And yet just two years later, biohacking is one of the hottest wellness trends on the horizon. Lest you worry that someone’s going to implant a computer chip in your brain and take over, the good news here is that it’s less newfangled invention and more “new term for an old thing.”

The concept came about a few years ago, when non-scientists got together to start exploring anecdotal health therapies and pool their knowledge.

“Biohacking is a fancy term for healthcare DIY—taking everyday things we use and/or do, and turning them into healthcare treatments,” says Tania Elliott, MD, chief medical officer at EHE. She calls biohacking a new version of the home remedy. The idea behind this 2018 wellness trend? You “hack” your body’s biology to improve how you feel. Biohacking goes hand-in-hand with trends such as digging into your DNA results to change your lifestyle or modifying your diet to stave off health concerns, and it takes advantage of technology and advanced know-how about the body to help us bring out the best in ourselves. “The concept came about a few years ago, when non-scientists got together to start exploring anecdotal health therapies and pool their knowledge,” Elliott explains. “Now people have gone out on their own with all kinds of health tricks and tips.” Technology plays a major role here too, says Geoff Woo, CEO of human enhancement company HVMN. He tells HealthyWay“Biohackers rigorously track inputs into their bodies and quantifiably track the bodies outputs with biosensors, assays, and other tools to obtain quantitative feedback measures.” He goes on to say, “Biohackers are especially interested in nootropics (cognitive enhancement), intermittent fasting, ketosis, and biosensors.” Learning more about the science behind these fads might be a good idea before the new year!

6. Cannabis

Legalization measures have made cannabis legal for recreational use in seven states plus the District of Columbia, and medical marijuana now has state approval in 29 states (plus DC). Ballot referendums and an increasing number of studies showing that cannabinoids (chemical compounds in the cannabis plant) can treat conditions ranging from chronic pain to depression have done much to change the image cannabis brings to mind.

Cannabis is a powerful anti-inflammatory with an excellent track record for managing pain. It’s also a wonderful mood enhancer and contributes to overall quality of life.

More than half of the country wants to see marijuana legal across the land, and the vision of the dude bro with no job smoking a bong in his grandma’s basement is slowly but surely being replaced by stories of blue and white collar professionals making use of cannabis-related products to treat diagnosable conditions. The biggest growing sector of cannabis users? Women, says Christie Strong, marketing communications manager at Kiva Confections, a California-based company that makes cannabis-infused edibles. “Analytics have shown us that women are among our largest demographic of users,” Strong tells HealthyWay. “Many report using our products for cramps; cannabis is a powerful anti-inflammatory with an excellent track record for managing pain. It’s also a wonderful mood enhancer and contributes to overall quality of life.” The reason for the change in the market comes down to science, Strong says. There’s more evidence out there about cannabis, and that evidence is helping us feel safer about using cannabis-derived products. “New research is leading to new products, formats, and approaches to cannabis ingestion. We have learned more in the past decade about this plant and its benefits than the thousands of years before it,” Strong says. Her predictions for 2018?

If I had a crystal ball, I’d say we’re going to see the cannabis microdosing trend increase this year as more and more people realize what a safe, effective alternative cannabis can be to many pharmaceuticals. We’re going to see the demographics of users evolve and the stigma of the “stoner” further fade as increasing numbers of parents, seniors, and business professionals speak up about their cannabis use. The fact that it is a Schedule I controlled substance is going to seem more and more absurd as time goes on.

While some cannabis use involves traditional marijuana smoking, if you’re looking for smoke- and high-free alternatives to add cannabis to your wellness routine, there’s plenty to choose from, and there will be even more options in the new year. Thanks to scientific advances, many of those products make use of cannabis strains that are devoid of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, a cannabinoid that gets you high. A prime example? CBD oil, short for cannabidiol hemp oil, is derived from a part of the plant that’s THC-free, and studies have shown its healing properties can help with conditions and symptoms including seizures and pain. Looking to 2020, the Hemp Business Journal expects the CBD market will grow to $2.1 billion in consumer sales by 2020. Yes, billion. Another cannabis-related wellness trend you might be trying in 2018 ties into biohacking: More women are expected to be microdosing in the new year—using small amounts of the drug and testing how it reacts with their body, tweaking dosages to improve their health and performance. “Microdosed edibles and CBD products in all formats are gaining steady market share,” Strong says. “Users want more control over their cannabis experience and they’re realizing that they have more targeted options than ever before to treat their conditions.”

Jeanne Sager
Jeanne Sager is a writer and photographer from upstate New York. She has strung words together for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and more.

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