Do you have your crystal ball ready? Peer into the future with us to uncover the next hot health trends coming our way in 2024.
Doing a deep dive into new health trends isn’t just an exercise in fortune-telling—it’s an empowering way to take our health into our own hands. It’s a chance to stop and reflect on our own wellness strategies: what’s working, what we can leave behind in 2023, and what we can adopt in the months ahead.
Cold water therapy
Jennifer Richardson is a registered holistic nutritionist and cold exposure facilitator. Through her company Cold Community NORTH, she runs mobile events and mini retreats, and also offers support for people in their daily cold exposure practice. “We surrender to the cold, release what no longer serves us, and regulate our nervous system.”
Cold therapy and contrast therapy (such as alternating plunges in a cold tub and a sauna) have become increasingly popular, according to Richardson. She explains that cold plunging initially prompts our “fight or flight” response, but then relaxes our bodies and minds, causing a dopamine release and improved mood.
Cannabis is big business. As many as 60 percent of US adults have tried a CBD product, according to a recent Forbes Health survey. Products include everything from capsules to topical lotions. CBD (cannabidiol) is thought to be safe for short-term use and not habit-forming or intoxicating. CBD research into health benefits is still evolving, however experts believe that short-term CBD use may help with stress and nervousness.
All about sleep
Society has become serious about sleep! From nap pods in universities to apps that track your slumber, sleep has come a long way from counting sheep. Some workplaces are even encouraging employees to take power naps at the office, for increased productivity.
More emphasis on mental health
Richardson views mental health and mood as topics whose time has come. “We can buy … healthy food, work out, and go to a breath work class, but we can’t reach optimum health when we’re suppressing emotions that no longer serve us.”
Thankfully, it appears that workplaces (and even schools) are embracing a new focus on mental health, with services like counselling, meditation, and resource referral now being offered. Hybrid work and better work-life balance are still, thankfully, big topics as well.
A world of fasting
Fasting isn’t a new idea. Along with mainstays like intermittent fasting, we’re seeing creative takes on the “fasting” concept, such as skin fasting (rest periods from certain skincare products) and social media fasting (taking strategic breaks from social media).
More than a moment for menopause
Dr. Meghan MacKinnon is a naturopathic doctor and Menopause Society-certified practitioner. She says conversations about menopause and perimenopause really took off in 2023, leading to a greater emphasis on education about different health strategies and shared decision making between patients and practitioners.
MacKinnon is optimistic that 2024 will continue this shift toward meaningful, individualized, and integrative menopause and perimenopause care that empowers women.
If you’ve noticed that you feel calmer and happier when you’re spending time in the great outdoors, you’re not alone. Many people started spending more time in nature during the pandemic. Today, people are continuing to embrace nature in new and creative ways, like working out outside or adding wellness spaces and workstations to their backyards. Some families are even committing to 1,000 hours spent outside every year.
A measured approach to alcohol
In recent months, we’ve seen an increased demand for nonalcoholic beverages, as well as an increase in conversations about alcohol use.
MacKinnon recommends becoming aware of our own alcohol intake and focus on reducing. “It’s never a bad idea to try an extended time without alcohol too,” she explains. “Trying ‘Dry January’ without any alcohol can be a great place to start.”
The probiotic market is expected to grow even more dramatically in 2024. Many people are turning their attention toward their gut health, with foods (such as kimchi, kombucha, and kefir) as well as supplements. Plus, probiotics in skincare have been proving popular.
Integration and teamwork
MacKinnon reports that she’s observed an increase in integration, respect, and collaboration between natural health practitioners and family medical doctors. “It’s not an ‘us versus them’ mentality. Individuals can take ownership and build the health care teams that work best for them.”
Make health a priority this year
Ensure your health routine is optimized and tailored to your needs with these tips.
MacKinnon urges us not to wait until the New Year before adopting healthy habits.
According to Richardson, many health changes don’t have staying power because they’re too strict. “The key to longevity is balance.”
When in doubt, go back to basics
“Don’t get overwhelmed!” cautions Richardson. “Most of the time, you know the right answer. Trust yourself and shut out the noise.”
Small habits build up over time, according to Richardson.
A look back …
A few of the big wellness trends we saw in 2023 included a focus on mindfulness in our everyday lives (including with apps and subscription services), health personalization (such as personalized supplement programs), and an ongoing emphasis on self-care in all its various forms. Many of these trends are predicted to continue over the following year.
Cold water feels good
Research conducted in the Czech Republic in the year 2000 found that immersion in cold water can increase the concentration of dopamine (a “feel-good” hormone) in our blood by 250 percent. But, make sure you check with your medical practitioner first, especially if you have any heart issues, before immersing yourself.
This article was originally published in the December 2023 issue of delicious living magazine.