“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas Edison
The pursuit of wellness, while very popular today is not a new concept. Ayurveda, a holistic system of medicine from India, dates back as early as 3,000-1,500 BC. It strived to create harmony between the mind, body, and spirit and utilized practices like meditation and Yoga.
Traditional Chinese Medicine hails from the same era, relying on approaches such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, qi gong, and tai chi. Fast forward hundreds of years (skipping a few evolutions of wellness along the way) to the 19th century, when intellectual movements and new medical practices exploded in the US and Europe. Modern versions of homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, and naturopathy were born.
The philosophy of these methodologies, “that a healthy body is a product of a healthy mind and spirit” laid the groundwork for the thriving wellness and self-help movements we see today. Despite the rise of modern “Western” medicine’s mid-20th century push against these practices, many have regained respect within the mainstream medical community.
Over the past 30 years wellness has become part of an integrated culture focused on health in our society. This movement motivates millions of people seeking better lifestyles, diets, exercise regimes, and mindfulness. A Consumer Opinions survey, across four continents found that 79% of consumers found wellness to be important and 42% make it a top priority. This widespread interest results in a global wellness market worth $4.4 Trillion in 2022.
So, what are people focusing their attention on? Here are some of the big wellness trends you’ll be hearing about in 2023.
1. New Ways to Prioritize Sleep
To be at our optimal health, doctors recommend 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
On average most Canadians are doing it and scoring 7.9 hours of sleep! People aged 35-64 are the age demographic most likely to not get enough sleep and probably the ones who need it the most. (And the demographic who is most likely reading this blog). Well, here are a few trending techniques you can add to your sleep routine.
Sleep syncing is replacing counting sheep. This involves you adjusting when you sleep to align better with the rhythms of nature (like the sun or moon). Studies are showing that people can fall asleep faster and reduce stress. A good way to start tuning your circadian rhythm is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – this helps you set a regular sleep schedule. You can also try circadian eating, having those heavy meals earlier in the day and keeping it light at night.
Finally, a trend with hardcore wellness nuts is mouth-taping while sleeping. Taping one’s mouth forces you to breathe only through your nose, which some argue has a slew of health benefits. These include better temperature control, filtering the air with your cilia (or nose hairs), and humidifying the air you breathe. It might make you wonder too if mouth-taping could prevent snoring? Time will tell if this trend really takes off!
2. A Focus on Women’s Health
Up until the 1990s most medical health research was conducted by men for men. Women were not leading the research nor were they the subject of the research. For decades, women were excluded from research trials from scientists and doctors fearing it would put women’s fertility at risk. Medical research concluded this by the theory of using only male animals' cells and tissue, research could reduce the number of variables to control. They also wrongly assumed any findings could easily be applied to women.
Thankfully medical science has progressed, and we now better understand women’s health; the causes and symptoms of diseases, and needs. Which, can be very different from our male counterparts. As the number of women in the medical field increase, so is research dedicated to understanding women’s health. We’ve seen significant growth in our knowledge of menopause and the impact of hormones in recent years.
The focus on women’s health should continue, as more and more research is done on other female-specific issues like endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and fertility. Hopefully this results in better treatments, medicines, natural health products, and strategies specifically designed with women in mind.
3. The Gut Biome
Over the past 5 years, we’ve seen an increase in the amount of information on gut health – we don’t see this leaving the wellness stage anytime soon.
Adding probiotics, fermented foods, and reducing our sugar intake are common wellness practices. The connection between our gut biome and our overall health is in the early stages of discovery but new findings are connecting our guts to our brain!
We all know a brain is made up of neurons, approximately 100 billion. Did you know that your gut also has neurons – but, a whopping 500 million more? These gut neurons are connected to your brain through nerves in your nervous system. Another amazing finding is that a large proportion of serotonin, the happy hormone, is produced in the gut. Researchers are going as far as to say that gut bacteria can affect your brain health. Safe to say, this area of health and wellness is just getting started to explore all the ways we can improve our wellness by having a healthy gut.
4. Many Mini-Workouts Every Day
Today’s time commitments make it hard for a large portion of people to carve out a 30–45-minute block for exercise. The recommended amount of exercise per week is 150 minutes. Buzz words around the term "mini-workouts" are incidental or micro workouts. No matter the name, these terms are all promoting the same thing – and research is demonstrating that these exercise snacks are just as effective as 45 minutes all at once.
One study from the University of Utah showed that all efforts, no matter how small, add up. Another paper published in Obesity demonstrated mini-workouts throughout the day can help curb appetite. Incidental workouts, can be as simple as walking a few blocks, doing 10 push-ups, running up the stairs instead of plotting along, or doing a wall sit (maintain a 90-degree squat up against a wall) while waiting for your lunch to heat up in the microwave.
Moderate intensity exercise, which is defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as any physical activity that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat. Exercise, no matter how you break down the minutes, will lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and even help battle some common cancers.
5. Re-Evaluating Our Relationship with Alcohol
The pandemic saw a significant rise in the consumption of alcohol around the world. Recent statistics shared by StatsCan, revealed some severe consequences of that.
But, our culture has revered a good, cold beer and sip of a solid whiskey for decades. It’s a social thing, after work, with our friends, and for special occasions.
Canada’s old guidelines for drinking allowed for up to 10 drinks per week for women and 15 for men. The new guidelines for drinking alcohol have drastically changed its recommendations, stating that a maximum of 2 drinks per week for both men and women is ideal to promote optimal health and prevent premature death and disease.
Many of us use alcohol as a way to relieve stress after a long day without considering the effects it can have on our long-term health. Enter the ‘sober curious’ movement, with a growing market shift to mocktails. Even celebrities like Blake Lively who created a new line of products called Betty Buzz is getting in on it (despite her partner’s Ryan Reynolds investment in Aviator Gin).
Non-alcoholic alternatives are on the rise, like adaptogenic drinks that use plants and herbs to help reduce stress instead of alcohol. Just hop on your favorite social app and enter #sobercurious or #damplifestyle and you will see a movement growing to reduce or eliminate their alcohol intake.
Benefits include better sleep, fewer calories in your diet, and significantly reduced chances of getting cancer.
6. You Could Always Try Mushrooms
The benefits of functional mushrooms are only just being discovered. Recent studies have shown high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds. Think better sleep, memory, and immunity. Plus, we’re seeing stress reduction, reduced inflammation, and increased energy. Be on the lookout this year for increased research on the magical powers of mushrooms.
Try One, or Try Them All!
The World Health Organization reminds us that health is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Depending on your lifestyle, focusing on just one new area of your health can make a world of difference. Whether it’s prioritizing your sleep, adding exercise, reducing your alcohol intake, or focusing on how you can improve your gut health. Chances are, any or all of the above will result in you feeling better in your mind, body, and spirit.