What to Watch: Wellness Trends In 2017

Avocado oil on table on light background

Every year, health trends develop and change. Among them are fads worth discarding, a touch of common sense come back to visit us, and often a nutritional gem or two. What are you likely to hear from your practice members and friends this year in terms of health trends? Here’s the scoop.

In recent years, we have seen a few interesting trends emerge. Among them was the resurgence of the fermented food category – think kombucha, sauerkraut, and the like. We started to see them pop back up on store shelves and Instagram feeds as people started to pay attention to their much neglected gut microbiome. The Paleo Diet was everywhere, with Pete Evans making waves both controversial and otherwise. Regardless of what you think of the Paleo Diet, it got people eating real food and taking control of their health again. Along with these trends, many others abounded.

So what are we are likely to see lighting up health headlines in 2017? Here are a handful of predictions.

 

1.An individualised approach to nutrition gains popularity

One-size-fits-all eating plans have been sliding in popularity for a while now, but a study published by Newcastle University in August 2016 threw new and interesting light on the need for individualisation. Essentially, they found that “personalised nutrition advice helped people to make bigger and more appropriate changes to their diets than the conventional healthy eating advice [1].”

Simultaneous to this, multiple organisations have sprung up specialising in the analysis of DNA, biomarkers and even individual microbiomes in order to tailor individual nutrition plans. Mind Body Green tips that this could be one of the big trends to climb up the bell curve this year, as did Forbes magazine [2, 3]. If every individual has a different gut reality, and a unique epigenetic code, it makes sense to tailor their nutrition plans for best results. This one will be one to watch in 2017.

 

2. Sobriety gets cool again

Alcohol consumption has long been synonymous with Australian holidays and festivals, and has gotten as much bad press as good. Yet there has been a fringe interest growing quietly in the United States, Australia and elsewhere, and that is the sobriety movement. Since 2015, America has seen a slow-creeping increase in alcohol-free events such as the Daybreaker dance parties [2]. In Australia, we have seen trends like Dry July and OcSober gain momentum. There are those who say such a trend is only on the rise as people discover the beauty of living without ‘liquid courage.’

 Musician and meditation expert Biet Simkin went on the record with Mind Body Green to state that, “Having explored alcohol and drugs in some depth myself, I know that they don’t propagate intentional living. When substances get involved, the experience you have tends to get farther and farther from the experience you intended to have…Vulnerability requires authenticity, and authenticity requires vulnerability. Neither of these outcomes is encouraged by the crutch of substances [2].” Whatever the motivation for decreasing or ceasing alcohol use, it’s a positive wellness trend as livers everywhere breathe a sigh of relief.

3. Fats are back in fashion and Keto is the diet to watch

2015 and 2016 taught us not to fear saturated fat, as studies emerged throwing doubt on the validity of low fat alternatives. Now, the ketogenic diet is re-emerging as a positive way to drop fat, equalise hormones and get the body back on track. It has its high-profile fans too, with Dr David Perlmutter of Grain Brain fame saying that, “ketone bodies are ‘profoundly neuroprotective’ and can increase levels of brain-protective antioxidants and stimulate the mitochondria, which can affect energy levels. [2]”

Others have praised the anti-inflammatory benefits of the diet. It’s a big commitment, but one that may just pay off for some. Nutritionist Cyndi O’Meara has spoken to Spinal Research about diets like paleo and ketogenic, touting their benefits but stating ,“time will tell whether they can be sustained over long periods.” She provides a balanced approach to getting your body back on track again – Check that blog piece out here for more info.

Case in point: The Ketogenic Diet is one likely to gain popularity in 2017.

 

4. Adaptagens will make the health headlines

Adrenal fatigue and adrenal exhaustion made buzzword status over the last few years. Wellness-concerned individuals were becoming increasingly aware of the role of the adrenal gland, and problems that come with over-production of cortisol. It makes sense that over time, the adaptagen would become popular too.

What is an adaptagen? It is basically “a specific class of plants known for their ability to heal the body’s adrenal system, thereby helping it cope with stress. We call them ‘adaptagens’ because they’re able to identify the specific needs of your body and act accordingly. [4]” For example, if the adrenal gland is sluggish, an adaptagen helps fire it up and vice versa.

Leading the charge with this trend is Ashwaganda root (otherwise known as Withania) [4]. Fans of the SD Protocol (a protocol developed by Australian Chiropractor Dr Wayne Todd to help deal with Sympathetic Dominance) will note that Withania/Ashwaganda can be a factor in supporting a system that has been stuck in Sympathetic Drive for too long. Even in chiropractic circles, the adaptagen trend is definitely one to watch.  A footnote on Ashwaganda: “Although there is limited research on this claim, it is also thought to help improve sleep quality.” The only time you should avoid Ashwaganda is if you’re pregnant or are taking immunosuppressants, sedatives, or thyroid hormone medication. [5]”

 

5. Black garlic and mushrooms join the superfood hit list, and avocado oil is the new coconut oil

That superfood list looks like its just going to keep growing. This year, we see boutique mushrooms, black garlic and avocado oil join the list. Why? Black garlic is created by a process ‘similar to fermentation,’ and boasts up to twice the amount of antioxidants than the unfermented version [6]. As for mushrooms, it isn’t just any old mushy. Its special varieties like chaga or lions mane that are believed to help fight pathogens, lower inflammation or protect the brain and nervous system [7]. Why should we pay any attention to avocado oil? There are claims that it can impact blood pressure, arthritis and psoriasis among other things [8].

 

So there you have it. Whether or not these trends last beyond ‘fad’ status remains to be seen, but they are indeed likely to pop up in wellness conversations more this year than last. Consider yourself pre-warned.

 

References

 

[1] Newcastle University Press Office, (2016) “Personalised nutrition better for developing habits,” Newcastle University Website, http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/news/2016/08/personalisednutrition/

[2] Staff Writer (2016), “11 Wellness Trends to Watch in 2017,” Mind Body Green http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-27900/11-wellness-trends-to-watch-in-2017.html

[3] Afacan, D (20160< “Five New Luxury Wellness Trends for 2017,” http://www.forbes.com/sites/dominiqueafacan/2016/12/31/five-new-luxury-wellness-trends-for-2017/#660cf0261db5

[4] Nicole, E (2016), “These Wellness Trends will be huge in 2017,” The Zoe Report http://thezoereport.com/living/wellness/wellness-trends-2017/#slide-4

[5] Strebe, S (2016), “Wellness Trends that will blow up in 2017,” My Domaine Home, http://www.mydomainehome.com.au/health-and-wellness/slide3

[6] Nicole, E (2016), “These Wellness Trends will be huge in 2017,” The Zoe Report, http://thezoereport.com/living/wellness/wellness-trends-2017/#slide-3

[7] Nicole, E (2016), “These Wellness Trends will be huge in 2017,” The Zoe Report http://thezoereport.com/living/wellness/wellness-trends-2017/#slide-7

[8] Strebe, S (2016), “Wellness Trends that will blow up in 2017,” My Domaine Home,  http://www.mydomainehome.com.au/health-and-wellness/slide2

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