Most of us know that our best chance of staying healthy is to be active, eat well and avoid drinking too much alcohol. But we can always do with a helping hand to implement these simple, but tough goals.
Here are some of the latest health trends touted as the pace-setters for 2021.
Calm your chattering mind
The rate of depression in adults doubled in 2020 and experts are rushing to address our mental health. Psychologist Ethan Kross’s new book Chatter promises to help readers avoid “going down a rabbit hole of negative self-talk and endless rumination”.
“We all need to learn how to tune our brains to be calmer and have a more balanced perspective in 2021,” says mind coach Don Macpherson, who offers How to Master Your Monkey Mind (out in January). Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, he labels our negative inner voice the ‘Monkey Mind’, after the Buddhist idea that it is like a monkey swinging from tree to tree. Controlled breathing and heightened awareness can “harness” this inner voice, he says.
British specialist holiday provider Health and Fitness Travel has seen a 22 per cent spike in bookings for “immunity-boosting retreats”, the Daily Telegraph reports. Once Australians can travel freely, expect many to embrace luxury journeys that purport to boost travellers immunity, reduce stress and improve their mental and physical wellbeing.
UK health travel firms offer “blood and urine tests, nutritional analysis, guidance on boosting immunity with lifestyle changes and a host of treatments such as deep meditation, forest walks and underwater massage”.
Effective or not, it’s likely the impulse to get healthier will compete strongly with cocktail escapism.
Probiotics had their moment in the sun, now it is prebiotics, a type of fibre, and postbiotics, functional fermentation compounds, that are being touted as aids to gut health.
Readership of eatingwell.com articles that covered digestion grew 163 per cent in 2020. Prebiotics are found in asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes (also called sunchokes), walnuts and wheat, and are being added to “everything from energy bars and candy to drinks”.
“Because they’re not alive, they can be used in many more applications than live probiotics. In 2021, we’ll be seeing postbiotics in supplement form and will also likely see them added to food products,” reports today.com.
“Postbiotics are being studied for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits and may also help bolster the immune system and improve the gut barrier.”
Small is beautiful?
Joanne Mallon, author of Change Your Life in 5 Minutes a Day (published in January), recommends replacing a new year lifestyle overhaul with ‘micro-changes’ – small, easy fixes that improve your life, such as stepping outside to look at the sky or taking five minutes to extend a conversation with a neighbour beyond ‘hello’.
“Even the smallest interactions like that can make us feel more connected and less isolated,” she says.
Eatingwell.com reports a 239 per cent increase in interest in air fryers in 2020 compared to 2019. Breana Killeen, EatingWell’s test kitchen manager, says: “Air fryers are basically mini-convection ovens that heat up in minutes and create a crispy texture on food with virtually no oil.
“I was sceptical about adding another appliance to my already-packed pantry, but the air fryer really does make the most delicious home fries, fish sticks, chicken nuggets and calamari – all without more than a quick coat of cooking spray.”
New versions can cook enough food to serve at least four people.
In 2020, one of the big trends was exercise aimed to improve mental wellbeing. Well, for millennia, tending to a garden has provided both physical and mental benefits for everyone from children to the elderly and disabled. Pandemic lockdowns reinforced these benefits as people turned to growing their own food and this return to home activities is expected to continue in 2021.
Seed companies sold eight to 10 times more seed than usual last year and Google searches for gardening doubled year on year.
“Gardening builds strength, promotes sleep and helps you maintain a healthy weight,” reports Healthline. Working in a garden uses every muscle group in the body, is a proven mood enhancer and it may even help your memory as you get older.
Researchers at UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh found that doing more physical activities such as gardening “upped brain volume in several areas, including the hippocampus, the part that controls memory”.
“The people whose brain size increased from exercise cut their Alzheimer’s risk in half.”
Will you embrace any of these hot-ticket wellness items in 2021? What healthy new activities are you looking forward to in 2021?
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