From the latest miracle foods and supplements to common sense and scientifically sound practices, there’s never a shortage of new recommendations that offer hope for optimal health. As advances are made in research and scientific discoveries, we should embrace the trends that come with increased understanding and development. But many health obsessions take hold based on nothing more than untested hypothesis or unsubstantiated claims. For better health and wellness, pay attention to the promising trends and ignore the ones that are just passing fads. This summary of the biggest trends on the horizon for 2019 can help:
Gut health – and the role it plays in overall health -- has been a hot topic for years. But now more emphasis is being placed on balancing microbiome, or the genetic material that lives inside the gut. As more evidence connects microbiome to everything from inflammation and immunity to brain health, look for increasingly targeted probiotic products and a renewed interest in high fiber foods, both of which can help maintain healthy microbiome.
Fasting for several hours and then eating only during a short time period (typically a 16-hour fast followed by an 8-hour window for consuming an entire day’s worth of food) has attracted a lot of attention over the past few years as an effective weight loss method. Now some studies have indicated that intermittent fasting might help prevent or manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s and dementia. More testing is needed, and there is no conclusive proof of extraordinary health benefits yet. The diet can also be extremely dangerous for some people, so talk to your doctor before experimenting with this trend.
The rapidly increasing legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana across the country is perhaps only outpaced by the skyrocketing popularity of cannabidiol, or CBD oil. Extracted from the cannabis plant, but without the THC substance that produces the “high”, CBD oil has shown some promise as an effective treatment to reduce stress and anxiety, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and decrease insomnia, but more clinical studies are necessary to confirm its effectiveness. CBD oil is widely available and generally safe, but the lack of regulation does raise some concerns.
Can a method for reducing stress and enhancing wellness really be considered a trend if it’s backed by thousands of years of practice around the globe? In the case of meditation, the answer is yes. Simple, safe, free, and accessible to virtually anyone, meditation is quickly becoming a mainstream practice for people of all ages and backgrounds that want to reduce anxiety and depression, manage pain, increase focus, sleep more soundly and more – without any negative side affects. And with more studies indicating its effectiveness, this is one trend that everyone can embrace.
Home Medical Testing
A few years ago, several companies made it easy to mail in a saliva example and get a DNA analysis of your heritage. Now one of the hottest trends has expanded on that technology and made it just as easy to get sophisticated testing for an increasing variety of health markers, including hormone levels, gut health and microbiomes, food sensitivities and heart health. The tests are relatively affordable and can accurately measure many factors. However, the results may be difficult to interpret, and they aren’t a substitute for tests and screenings ordered by your doctor and performed in a quality control lab. If you are looking for information beyond your ethnic makeup or general genetic profile, proceed with caution and discuss with your doctor.
2018 was the year of the Impossible Burger – a plant-based “meat” product that can actually make you think you’re eating the real thing. With significant improvements in taste and texture, the trend towards plant-based substitutes for dairy, beef, pork and fowl has never been bigger. From delicious nut milks to protein packed tofu jerky, innovative and delicious products are convincing even skeptical carnivores to incorporate some healthier options into their diet. Watch for plant-based fish products to hit the market in 2019.
This article first appeared in the January 2019 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.