Lifestyle Health Trends 2018
To complement the blog post on Dietary Health Trends of 2018 here are some non-dietary trends that may be on the increase this year.
Along with the move towards diets that focus on plant foods, organic foods and locally grown foods for both health and environmental reasons the move towards lifestyles that reduce the damage to the environment is also likely to increase. Greener transport options such as bikes, electric bikes and hybrid or electric cars are likely to become increasingly popular. More and more people are turning to energy companies that invest in renewable energy such as Ecotricity and Good Energy, as well as considering how they can reduce energy consumption in their own homes.
Green Beauty Products
With increasing awareness that what we put on our skin may be absorbed the availability of skin, hair and nail products, as well as cosmetics made from natural ingredients is growing. The trend for people making their own products is also on the up. There are many internet sites and books that provide recipes for moisturisers, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant and bath bombs, often using essential oils, that can be tailored to personal likes and needs.
With increasing awareness of how important sleep is for health alongside the knowledge that many people do not get enough quality sleep there are many products and much advice available to help you optimise your sleep. Digitised beds and smart mattresses can control the temperature of your sleep environment, wake you up with increasing levels of light to mimic the sunrise and provide information about the amount of sleep you have had and how much of it was REM sleep. Sleep trackers can be used to track your sleep cycles and may help to diagnose issues such as sleep apnoea and hypertension.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation
The vagus nerve runs from the base of the brain, down the neck and then branches out in the chest and down to the abdomen. It helps to regulate the peripheral nervous system, breathing, heart rate, digestion and circulation. It is a major player in the gut-brain axis which is a growing area of interest in itself. The function of the vagus nerve helps to regulate the immune system, metabolism, the emotions and inflammation. Stimulating the vagus nerve leads to the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which has a calming effect. It is thought that increasing your vagal tone can be helpful in treating many health problems including addiction, cravings and digestive dysfunction. There are many ways to stimulate the vagus nerve, these include:
• Slow, deep diaphragmatic breathing
• Singing or chanting
• Intermittent fasting or reducing caloric intake
• Biofeedback techniques
• Exposure to cold
• Probiotics – the gut microorganisms can activate the vagus nerve
This is about training the body to handle every day life situations and is an important aspect of fitness for longevity. Most functional fitness exercises use multiple muscles and body parts. For example squatting is a great movement for every day life as it trains the muscles used to sit or stand up from a chair and to get in or out of the car or the bath. Functional fitness can increase balance, flexibility, stability and strength. It can also reduce the risk of injury whilst going about everyday activities such as lifting, moving furniture or gardening.
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)
This is the energy burned in everyday activities, other than exercise. It can play a big part in fitness, weight and overall health. The idea is to get as much movement into your daily life as possible such as standing up often throughout the day, taking the stairs, getting up to speak to someone in the office instead of sending an email. Sitting down for hours on end is extremely damaging to health so get up and stretch or move around whenever you can.
Body Tracking and Health Testing
From fertility to fitness and beyond, there are already many apps and devices to help you track what’s going on in your body, along with an increasing range of tests to help determine present and future health needs.
Find Your Tribe but Beware the Bubble
Following any dietary or lifestyle regime is far easier and more fun if you are alongside other people on a similar path. However, beware getting caught in a bubble which can stop you seeing the bigger picture and the possibility that there may be other ways forward.