What an incredible year for wellness! We learned that everything we thought we knew about immunity and digestion was wrong—and that we’re only beginning to understand the billions of microbes that rule our life. We saw green juice go mainstream when it hit the shelves of Starbucks. Yogis blew up on Instagram. Everyone and her brother gave up gluten. Suffice to say, 2013 was a big year for wellness and we expect 2014 to be even bigger. Here are 14 trends to watch:
We’re beginning to understand that the billions of bacteria that live in our guts (collectively called “the microbiome”) are the keys to our health. But there's still a lot we don't know, like how, exactly, they interact with other systems in the body to influence digestion and metabolism. What we do know is that the future of food involves a personalized dietary prescription, catering to each person’s unique bacterial makeup. And for now? Eating close to nature is still your best bet for optimal health.
We’ve been on the hunt for a better, healthier sweetener. Agave was the darling of the wellness world until word got out about its high fructose content and processing, meaning it wasn’t as healthy as we thought. Enter coconut sugar, a low-glycemic, unrefined sweetener that tastes great. It might just be what your sweet tooth’s been waiting for and I expect brands like Big Tree Farms to make serious headway in 2014.
Backlash Against Hormonal Birth Control
We’ve seen several personal stories here at MBG about the side effects of hormonal birth control, and it’s getting even more attention in the mainstream media in magazines like Vanity Fair and Elle painting a picture that's not so rosy for the pill. There are benefits and side effects to every drug, and birth control is no exception. Expect to see more dialogue about side effects and increased interest in more natural methods.
Lights For Health
Science shows that poor lighting can seriously impact your sleep, your mood, and even your health. Some studies will go as far as saying that artificial lighting wreaks havoc on your body clock, which is the driving force behind unexplained disease. Expect to see more companies like Definity Digital coming out with bulbs that can give us more energy and even help us sleep better.
Unfortunately, being healthy can sometimes become an obsession, which is ironically, not healthy at all. (In fact, there’s a name for it: orthorexia.) In the past year, we’ve seen a shift in posts at MBG – from hating on gluten and sugar and booze to condoning some mindful consumption of these. I see more and more people realizing that true health is about having balance at home and at work, and it's a trend that I'm pretty excited about.
Fitbit, Jawbone, Nike Fuelband, Focus/Trainr, and S Health from Samsung are leading the way in “wearables.” These gadgets (typically worn on your wrist) are designed to measure everything from how many steps you take, to how well you sleep, and even how efficiently you work out. Wearables are here to stay and I expect the next generation of products in 2014 to be even more robust, accurate, and personalized – helping us reach all of our health goals.
I believe in the power of data. Having insight into our genetic predispositions, whether it’s something serious like heart disease (or something fun and fascinating like discovering our true ancestry) can help us optimize our diet and lifestyle for maximum health and wellness. Companies like 23andme will become invaluable tools for wellness enthusiasts to make more informed lifestyle decisions. Even though the FDA is carefully watching these companies and the claims they make, $99 for DNA analysis makes me think there are going to be lots of people charging genetic testing to their credit cards next year.
Meditation As A Performance Booster
Many come to meditation looking to alleviate stress, sleep better, or to find a deeper connection within. But there’s a new crop of people flocking to meditation: those looking to enhance their performance at work, which is why there’s a meditation boom in Silicon Valley and Wall Street. What was once seen as a new-agey hobby is now considered a tool that can give you an edge to think more clearly at work. Companies like Google and Aetna have meditation programs for their employees. Look for more employers to jump on this ancient bandwagon in 2014.
There's no question that we're in the middle of a juice revolution with brands like Suja, Evolution Fresh, LoveGrace, and BPC leading the way nationally, while The Juice Press (NYC), Jugo Fresh (Miami), Kreation, Pressed, and Moon Juice (LA) have been focused on local markets. Thanks to the technology HPP (High Pressure Processing), what was once a local, raw, business (and able to stay on shelves for only 24 hours) is now able to reach national scale. HPP technology uses pressure instead of heat, to inactivate microorganisms (such as bacteria, virus, and yeast) to extend shelf life—making it possible for these juices to show up in national chain stores. HPP can make some juicing purists cringe, but we’ll see more HPP beverages and juices on the shelves in 2014. I’m thrilled to see anything that makes it easier for more folks to get some greens.
Back To The Basics Workouts
With Crossfits popping up on every corner, I’m seeing more people skipping the gym and doing workouts that require nothing but yourself and a little bit of space. That’s right, good ole’ fashioned push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, squat-thrusts, lunges, and running are replacing dumbbells, barbells, treadmills, and fancy workout machinery. These types of workouts are also a great way to make exercise more social. Here’s a group that runs the steps at Harvard Stadium to have fun while staying fit. There's even a 7-minute workout you can do in your office.
Fake Meat And Eggs
Companies like Hampton Creek (fake eggs) are getting the attention and big bucks from Bill Gates. Other big brands entering this space include Gardein and Beyond Meat (fake meat). These knockoff meat products, typically made from soy, are a vegan’s dream! With Veggie Grill (fast veggie food) leading the way in serving up these substitutes, a carnivore could enjoy “meat” and “egg” dishes while eating out, without noticing that the protein isn’t actually from a chicken or a cow. Expect to see the above brands (and many more) make major headway in 2014.
One of the many reasons why the “green” in “MindBodyGreen” is so important is the fact that chemicals in everyday products can seriously affect our health. Our rampant use of plastic bottles, toxic air “fresheners” and barely-regulated beauty products sets the stage for “endocrine disruptors,” chemicals that seriously mess with our hormones. We’re seeing more and more posts on this topic coming into MindBodyGreen and expect for it to take center stage in 2014.
Corn Is The Next Gluten?
Don’t listen to me. Listen to Dr. William Davis, author of the bestselling Wheat Belly, which made millions of Americans shiver at the thought of eating a bagel. “Corn is next in line after wheat! Corn has become a bastardized, corrupt product in the hands of genetic modification,” said Dr. Davis in his interview with MBG earlier this year. Davis definitely lead the anti-gluten trend, so will he strike again with corn? We’ll see. We do know that corn is overused in industrial farming and most of it is GMO, so there are two good reasons to regard this crop with some scrutiny.
Whether we like it or not, we live in a hyper-connected world. Now we're starting to see how this can negatively affect our health. Enter the digital detox, which officially became a word in the Oxford dictionary’s online version earlier this year. More people are embracing "disconnecting" and entire businesses exist to help you un-plug. Levi Felix actually runs a "Digital Detox" retreat, which has become incredibly popular. If you don’t have time to get away, LinkedIn just posted a list of 5 free apps to help you simplify your technological life.