Supplements - from nootropics to our own personalised supplements are becoming more prevalent and easier to choose (rather than the generic multivitamin we’re used to). Superstars like turmeric and beetroot are making their way into drinks and snacks as well as supplements, and mesonutrient seems to be 2019’s buzzword.
Technology is, of course, driving much of the innovation with small, fashionable wearables now able to usefully monitor our bodies and innovations like our own 3D-printed stacks which contain vitamins and nutrients tailored to each individual. This is making health and wellbeing very personal - and that can only be a good thing - while general health and wellbeing advice applies to us all, we each have very specific needs and lifestyles - and these can now be addressed on an individual basis.
Forward-thinking progress is the lifeblood of the wellness industry. While our bodies don’t change much over the long-term, health & fitness is an area of constant innovation, both culturally and technologically.
Today’s western world is plagued with rising obesity rates and desk-based jobs which can cause life-long health issues. As we become ever-more conscious of our physical and mental health, we begin to eat, move, work out and shop differently. We’re excited to be part of this next generation of trends - here’s some of what we see influencing tomorrow’s health.
We’re now seeing a wider range of vitamin and mineral supplements. The market seems to be moving away from the all-in-one multivitamin, and towards more specific offerings. Vitamin supplements target overall wellness, as well as enhancements in certain areas. For example, cognitive enhancement is trending upwards, with ’nootropics’ becoming more popular for those who want an extra mental boost.
The upside of these developments is that we’re given more choice of what to take. On the other hand, it means we can end up taking numerous pills and tablets every day to get what we want, which isn’t always pleasant.
As well as brain boosters in the form of Omega 3,6,9 supplements and other compounds coming on to the market, there are a few other superstars growing in popularity. Turmeric, the anti-inflammatory spice that boosts brainpower, joint health and athletic performance, is becoming popular in both supplement form and coffee shop lattes. Nitrate-rich beetroot is also spreading through the wellness world, appearing in drinks, supplements and even lattes as well!
2019 might well be the year of the mesonutrient, which really just defines the active compound in health foods. For example, the mesonutrient in turmeric is actually curcumin, which is responsible for its wondrous health effects. So, some companies are deciding to extract the mesonutrients and serve them separately under a different name. While it sounds like the sensible thing to do, without rigorous testing of the body’s uptake of these compounds outside their natural form, their efficacy can’t be guaranteed.
Finally, awareness of the gut microbiome is increasing. The ’second brain’, as it’s often called, is closely linked to our actual brain, sharing many connections through the nervous system and influencing mood, cognition and overall wellbeing. We now know that introducing probiotics (helpful bacteria) into the gut ecosystem through fermented foods or supplementation can be massively helpful for the health of our digestive system and bodies overall.
While fitness wearables have been available for a few years now, the race to innovate goes on, and we’re seeing impressive new features added regularly. Not just glorified pedometers anymore, new fitness gadgets are capable of tracking how many flights of stairs we’ve ascended, what our heart rate is through the day (accurate to the point they can almost be used as lie detectors now), and what our sleep phases are through the night.
The latest version of the Apple Watch even has a fully-functioning ECG (electrocardiogram) that’s able to track heart-rate variability and immediately inform the wearer’s doctor if it detects a problem.
The move towards fashionable, (rather than just functional) wearables continues too, with Bellabeat taking on the exciting world of fitness-tracking jewellery, and the Oura ring offering insights on multiple wellness statistics in miniature form.
Our own technology is also changing the shape of the wellbeing industry. While 3D printing isn’t that new - its practical application is. The food industry is starting to make strides in 3D printing - in Sweden, for example, local authorities are planning to 3D print food in care homes for the elderly recreating the original form of puréed food in order to disguise the fact it’s puréed - a great idea. We have taken the idea one step further and 3D-print on demand and to individual and personalised instruction. You can find out more about our unique process here.
Food & Drink
Nutritional trends are always evolving, whether they’re driven by celebrity chefs, fitness influencers or other cultural forces. While Instagram leads the way in delivering us into temptation through drool-worth imagery (like maple syrup ‘freakshakes’ and cheeseburger-pizza combos), the rise of good-looking healthy food is also prevalent. Today’s cookbooks and industry reports suggest younger generations are more interested in feeding themselves properly, both to look good and feel good.
The popularity of fat-based diets continues to rise, with the evils of carbohydrates and refined sugar being cursed regularly. Diets like ketogenic, paleo, and raw food are on the rise, focusing on high-fat, medium-protein, and low-carb balances to stabilise blood sugar and maintain healthy weight and energy levels.
Fitness influencers like Joe Wicks don’t prescribe restrictive diets though, instead encouraging people to cook generally healthy stuff for themselves alongside a regime of high-intensity training. Judging by his fans' before-and-after photos (and the size of Joe’s following) it seems to be working. Michael Pollan’s famous refrain applies to this outlook: “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.”
One encouraging trend is that of attitudes towards alcohol, particularly amongst millennials and Gen-Z'ers: they’re drinking less than older generations.
Pubs are closing too, but other forms of social spaces are thriving, such as coffee shops, gyms and grown-up activities. There’s an expanding range of no- and low-alcohol drinks too, for the social drinker who wants to avoid the hangover.
As we continue to unearth new discoveries about the body’s movement and physiological needs, trends in fitness evolve to suit them.
A few years back, the predominant lifestyle choice was to go to the gym in the morning, work out for an hour, then drive to the office and sit down for eight hours. We’re gradually moving away from that school of thought, as long periods of sitting down are now known to do significant damage to our overall fitness levels, postural health, and cognitive potential. Some even go so far as to say “sitting is the new smoking.”
Thought leaders like Kelly Starrett and Katy Bowman recommend a wholly new philosophy based on constant ‘micro-movements’ throughout the day. These biomechanists suggest standing up once every twenty minutes, going for lots of walks, and intentionally flexing and moving even while sitting down to type.
Along these lines, the emergence of the standing desk has truly shaped office culture, with more and more workspaces (especially progressive, startup-friendly coworking spaces like WeWork) adding them to working environments. Studies suggest they have a really beneficial effect on reducing neck & back pain, and improving overall mood and energy levels.
Gyms are starting to become more specialised, too. Boutique gyms are becoming more popular, with spaces such as bootcamp basements, boxing clubs, and spinning studios opening up around the country. These institutions tend to be a bit more exclusive and expensive, but generally foster a tighter-knit community than multipurpose chain gyms.
Finally, for those that want to work out in the comfort of their own surroundings, the home workout is making a comeback. Peloton is leading the way with its stationary cycle that links groups of riders together in a virtual class, and Fiit.tv is building a live-streaming fitness class empire.
Keeping up with every new idea is impossible - but there’s so much informed innovation in the health and wellness space that it’s definitely worth taking a quick look from time to time, you may well find just the thing that suits you perfectly.