Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.Full Bio
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Intermittent fasting … CBD … self-care … meal kits.
Bring back any memories?
Those were some health trends in 2018. While some will stand the test of time, others will morph into newer versions of themselves or disappear altogether.
In my last post, I pointed out four top health trends for 2019 recently forecast by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI). To round out the wellness voyage, here are four more worth noting:
MediScent: Fragrance Gets a Wellness Makeover
Smells can be so evocative—powerful enough to act as a time machine transporting you to your past. Think walking into a bakery and catching the scent of freshly baked cookies and you might get the warm fuzzies remembering baking with your grandmother as a child. But catch a whiff of that cloying cologne your not-so-fabulous ex-boyfriend doused himself with and you are suddenly very, very queasy.
Scent is very much about memories.
The Trend: Although it's nothing new that scent is recognized as playing a crucial role in our emotional and physical well-being, what is new is how we choose to think about it, nurture it and use it to leverage our health. The ways scents are used will span from clinical applications to personalized consumer products and experiences.
One example is the company Aeroscena, based in Cleveland Clinic's Innovations Lab. It has trademarked the term "phytoinhalant" and is pioneering the field of clinical aromatherapy with a line of plant-based aromatherapeutics, formulated to treat health symptoms like pain, nausea and anxiety. (They're working on approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration so that insurance companies will recognize "medical aromatherapy" as a real and helpful science.)
Scent therapy is playing a role in treating dementia and Alzheimer's disease, working to trigger pleasant past memories. A New York nursing home has partnered with the International Fragrance Foundation to create a "memory" kiosk featuring distinct scents from a baseball game like hot dogs, popcorn and a baseball mitt, hoping to able to trigger long-forgotten pleasant memories for people with Alzheimer's.
And since, according to studies, the longer the scent of your hair-care product lingers, the longer your loyalty to that product will be, we may be seeing products layered with time-released beads of scent so that users can get a whiff of that newly washed freshness smell all day long.
China—Uncovering the Wealth in Wellness
According to the GWI, China's unprecedented growth is set to have a major impact on the wellness market. The country is undergoing a wellness and beauty revolution, with a large percentage of its population exercising regularly and purchasing organic foods. Fitness apps, sportswear sales, gym memberships and health supplements are all seeing a dramatic upswing.
The Trend: Chinese outbound tourists are seeking more "authentic experiences," switching out shopping and sightseeing for local experiences or wellness-related activities like culinary tours, beauty and spa treatments and hot springs. Another reason for outbound traveling? People are seeking health care and medical treatments abroad, with medical spending totaling at least $10 billion each year in surgical procedures, prescriptions, fertility treatments and plastic surgery and more advanced treatments like cancer and cardiac procedures.
Spas and hotels in China are also working to accommodate the influx of foreign travelers with cutting-edge spa and wellness centers.
To cope with overpopulation, an emphasis on wellness design and architecture is emerging as local and international urban planners collaborate to create sustainable and environmentally friendly designs to help relieve problems like traffic congestion, pollution and stress. One example is a plan for a Liuzhou Forest City in Guangxi, featuring skyscrapers equipped with smog-consuming facades covered with nearly 40,000 trees and plants to help fight pollution and noise and regulate temperatures of the surrounding environment.
Nutrition Gets Very Personalized
You are what you eat. Your body is your temple so you must (treat) and feed it right. The healthier the food you consume, the healthier you'll be and the better you'll feel. You've heard it all before, right?
With all the focus on food (there's an endless and ever-growing list of ways to eat, including but not limited to vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, Keto, dairy-free and gluten-free) what could be new?
The Trend: It's not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Instead, personalized nutrition can scientifically figure out the foods that are right for us, not just from a weight-control standpoint but from an overall health and well-being aspect.
Companies like Habit and Nutrigenomix say they will analyze your blood and DNA to home in on the best foods specific to you; Onegevity Health adds an analysis of your microbiome to find the best foods for your health, cognition, heart and sports performance.
Other companies will measure how your body is burning fuel and analyze the nutrients your body needs. Apps can measure the nutrients and calories on your plate. In the future, we'll know how much exercise we really need and how our bodies will react to specific nutrients.
One thing all humankind has in common is that our lives all come to an end. And dying is something that is generally not done well in this country; rather it's hidden, terrifying, cold and clinical, often devoid of healing communal rituals. But all we really want, in the end, is a peaceful death.
The Trend: A "death positive" movement, viewing it through a more "well" and "mentally healthy” lens, incorporating exploration, acceptance and meaning. There's a drive to make death less medicalized and more personalized.
You may recognize a doula as a person who provides care and guidance to a pregnant woman during labor, helping to bring new life into the world. Now there are "death doulas" to ease the way out of the world, too—helping to make it more peaceful and less angst-ridden.
Also worth mentioning is the rising evidence of the power of magic mushrooms (psilocybin) to relieve the anxiety and depression that accompany terminal illness. Researchers predict it could become legal medicine in five years.
Funerals are moving away from the gloomy formality and toward the personal and celebratory, and there's a surge in eco-friendly green burials that "replant" us in nature. Says the GWI: "The media can dismissively state that 'death is hot right now,' but we're seeing signs of a desperately needed awakening about how the silence around death hurts our lives and our world—and how we can work to restore some humanness, sacredness and our own values to the death experience."