In our Wellness forecast for 2018, we predicted a trend towards stronger mental health care in both the workplace and in the home. This continues into 2019, with the benefit of smartphone technology.
Researchers are harnessing our connectivity to our smart phones to support vulnerable people before they suffer from a mental health issue. Dubbed “Digital Psychiatry”, apps designed to support mental health are an emerging trend among mental health research, using devices to track patterns in your mood, physical activity as it relates to mental health, and sleep patterns.
It is estimated that by the end of adolescence, 20% of young adults will have experienced depression. Scientists working with the Canadian-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health are testing out an experimental wrist monitor that they hope will help young adults combat depression, as it monitors physical activity, eating habits and sleep patterns and also requests the input of information in the format of a survey, 5 times a day, like an electronic diary of sorts. Changes in activity and diet can be red flags in recurring depression, making it easy to treat early. The ultimate goal is to determine whether there is an algorithm that can predict the onset of depression, helping to prevent and/or manage mental illness.
American health technology company Big Health has released a smartphone application this month called Daylight, with an aim to support mental well-being in the workplace. Through this app, you can assess your daily stressors at work and then utilize suggested tools to overcome feelings of being anxious and overwhelmed throughout the day. The app ensures you are reminded to prioritize your mental well-being throughout the workday.
Another Canadian developed “mind me” app also sends info to patient’s family and care-givers, with an aim to prevent depression and thoughts of suicide. According to their website, the algorithm has 91% diagnostic accuracy and has attracted top scientists in the field of psychiatry. The use of digital technology that we use every day to help save lives is promising to change the face of mental well-being for many people.
Emphasis on Plant-Based Diets
In October of 2018, the United Nations warned that if we do not reverse carbon emissions within the next 12 years, the damage to our planet will be irreversible. With more studies stressing the importance of changing the way we eat to prevent catastrophic environmental damage, more scientists are pushing for drastic dietary changes, not just lifestyle changes, in order to save our planet before it’s past the point of no return.
The global food system accounts for one third of all carbon emissions. Meat and dairy are two of the biggest causes of greenhouse gas emissions, driving climate change, biodiversity loss, use of fresh water systems, and pollution. Currently, only 13% of all milk sales are plant-based diary. And it is estimated that nearly 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are overexploited. With the global population estimated to reach 10 billion by 2050, you will see a big push from health experts and some companies towards a planetary health diet in 2019.
Plant-based will go from a buzzword to a common reality this year, as meal plans incorporating fruits, nuts and vegetables take center stage. Utilizing these foods as dietary staples not only helps our planet but also decreases risk of life-threatening diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. Through eating a plant-based diet, you can increase your caloric intake as you are naturally consuming far less sugar and less saturated fats. Another benefit is that typically these foods cost less than meats and fish, so you are doing less damage to both your wallet and the environment.
According to a lead study author, our consumption of foods such as red meat and sugar will have to be reduced by more than 50% if we are to reverse the damage to our planet and in order to prevent 11 million deaths each year, caused by unhealthy diet. Scientists have suggested that meat consumption in the western world needs to drop by up to 90% in order to avert climate crisis.
For those who cannot bear the thought of a meat-free diet, health experts stress that even a “flexitarian” diet, that is a diet largely plant-based with little fish, meat and dairy, is better than no change in diet at all. And there are so many plant-based alternatives to meat and even fish available today – why not give one a try?
Resurgence of the Mediterranean Diet
In their 2019 report, US News and World Report ranked the Mediterranean Diet as the best, most effective diet versus 41 other popular diets. The Mediterranean Diet is not new, but research shows that it is by far the most popular and trending eating plan for this year. While it is not specifically tailored for weight-loss, this diet is growing in popularity because it incorporates a wide variety of fresh and whole foods, with no processed or refined foods, and it does not restrict any specific food groups making it easy to sustain. Other science-backed advantages of this way of eating include a healthier digestive system, stronger bones and longevity.
Another reason that the Mediterranean Diet is supported by health professionals is its anti-inflammatory properties. The diet has been connected to a reduced risk of several diseases, all linked to inflammation, including some forms of cancer, heart disease and cognitive diseases. Several of the world’s “Blue Zones”, regions where people live longer than average, are in the Mediterranean, where people adopted this style of eating hundreds of years ago.
The Mediterranean Diet utilizes olive oil over butter and less healthy oils, it emphasizes spices to flavor food rather than salt, it does not restrict meat but emphasizes fish, and can easily be tailored to work for vegetarian or vegan lifestyles. If you are looking to make a healthier lifestyle change towards better eating, this is the diet for you. This diet also supports our previous trend, protecting the future of the plant through prominently plant-based eating.
Rise of the Hemp Plant
Thanks to the passing of the “Farm Bill”, removing hemp from the Controlled Substances act, 2019 will see a drastic increase in the availability and use of CBD-infused products and the use of hemp in a multitude of products, thus transporting us into an era of plant-based Wellness that we have never seen before.
Hemp is one of the strongest and most absorbent fibers in the world and is used in such products as clothing, diapers, shoes, oil paints, solvents, cardboard, newsprint, rope, caulking, insulation, fiberglass and acrylic ... to name a few! Hemp is also used in a variety of foods, such as protein powder and seeds, as well as health and beauty products, including soaps, lotions, shampoos and cosmetics. Hemp oil has been proven to help with digestive issues, sleeplessness, pain and stress, not to mention countless medical ailments. It has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties, anti-anxiety, anti-seizure and pain management properties. With lessening restrictions on the growth, production and sales of these products, you will be able to take advantage of the many ways in which hemp can help and heal.
Once dismissed due to an unfavorable stereotype, cannabis is an ever-expanding culture, particularly in the Wellness market. The Hemp Business Journal estimates that the hemp industry in the U.S. alone, which boasted earnings of $820 million in 2017, will grow to a $1.9 billion market by the year 2022. You can read more about the many benefits of CBD oil in our Blog post here.
Focus on Mesonutrients
Having focused on micro and macro nutrients in recent years, 2019 will see a trend towards focusing on what’s inside your food, the active compounds that make foods good for you.
Turmeric, for example, was a buzzword in Wellness in 2018. Hailed for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is a popular additive in recipes but did you know that it’s actually the curcumin which is the active ingredient in turmeric that delivers the anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory properties that make this spice a popular superfood? Curcumin is the mesonutrient.
Having a better understanding of the mesonutrients in superfoods allows you to tailor your diet and supplements more accurately and appropriately for your health needs. And a focus on your health is always a trend that you want to follow.
Optimum Brain Health
The American Alzheimer’s Association reports that 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and that brain health will have a dramatic impact on caregivers and the health system in the coming years, with an estimated projection of 14 million living with the disease by 2050. With more research dedicated to brain health, experts are able to recommend foods and supplements that can improve your mind.
In 2019, a surge in natural, cognitive supplements will aim to support brain health and relieve such ailments as poor memory, mental anxiety, brain-fog, help to improve focus and support overall cognitive function. As more studies suggest that the brain may the organ that suffers most from a poor diet, lacking sleep and poor environmental conditions, there has never been more emphasis on diet and exercise for improved brain health.
Several U.S. based companies are introducing “natural nootropic” functional drinks in 2019, which incorporate vitamins, Ayruvedic herbs and minerals that boast brain boosting properties and address issues relating to brain health, including responses to stress, boosting mental alertness and memory.
The properties found in omega-3s have been shown to help reduce the risk of brain legions that can cause dementia, therefore a diet rich in these fatty acids comes highly recommended in support of brain health. Omega-3s can be found in fish, flax seeds, several nuts, olive oil and supplementary forms.
Several spices, including cinnamon, sage, turmeric and cumin can help to break apart brain plaque and reduce inflammation of the brain, linked to memory loss.
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, rich in plants and whole grains, is a guaranteed way to support your overall health, which includes your brain.
We look forward to sharing more Blog posts with you on these trending topics throughout 2019.