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The Most Helpful Health Trends for 2021

There are trends in every industry and the health and wellness industry is no different. Do you remember when everyone was talking about blueberries, then superfoods, way before turmeric and CBD took their place in the spotlight? Winter 2020 saw a growing recognition for vitamin D (particularly in light of coronavirus), as part of the trend for PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE which has understandably continued into 2021.

But what else has been burgeoning in 2021?

RADICAL SELF CARE certainly sounds appealing, as a way to nurture yourself and ensure you remain well enough to take care of others. What about SYNCING YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE TO YOUR HORMONAL CYCLE for the ultimate mindful approach to exercise?

While the year might not be so new – yes, it’s nearly March, already! – it’s not too late to discover the trends which could be the most helpful to your everyday health.

FOOD

TREND: SUPPORTING THE MICROBIOME
 One of the biggest food trends is on the MICROBIOME. The nerdy definition of the microbiome is the collection of live microorganisms which exist within a specific environment. In everyday terms, this just means the mix of bacteria, viruses, fungi and all other teeny-tiny organisms which co-exist in a specific place. There’s a particular mix you’d expect to find on the surface of your skin, which is significantly different to what you’ll find on your hair, or throughout your digestive tract.

Having a healthy microbiome is what this trend is all about.

When the microbiome in your gut is in balance, it’s like you have a team of hard-working minions – supporting your immune system, producing vitamins and helping you absorb more from your diet.

TWO WAYS TO ACHIEVE A BETTER BALANCED MICROBIOME

You could include some good foods in your diet, such as prebiotics and fermented foods, as they feed your microorganisms and help them thrive. You might also eat less of the foods which reduce their numbers, like refined sugars and artificial sweeteners.

COULD THIS TREND DEVELOP FURTHER?

I think this is a trend that might develop in some wonderful ways, and include the external microbiome too. For instance, consider how the regular use of hand sanitisers might impact your skin. I wouldn’t be surprised if prebiotic hand creams started to make their way onto the market some time soon. Well there are already deodorants with prebiotics in, so this wouldn’t be too far a leap.

HEALTH

TREND: SLEEP

You probably know the importance of a good night’s SLEEP, but if you don’t just ask the innocent bystanders who live, work or interact with you! Although the reasons why humans sleep may remain a mystery to researchers, the effects of disturbed sleep, insufficient sleep or a total lack of sleep are pretty clear to see. 

There are so many things that can affect your regular sleeping patterns – internal issues surrounding your food intake, nutrient deficiencies and emotional balance. External issues which lie in your environment – a noisy street, too-bright room, tiny bed or hot bedroom – can also disturb the soundest of sleepers. 

Nevertheless, there are ways to address poor sleep. My favourites are simple suggestions that are appropriate for almost everyone as they mimic your natural sleep cycle and prepare your mind for a period of rest.

TRY THIS BEDTIME ROUTINE FOR BETTER SLEEP
  • Have a bath or shower at 36 – 38°C (98 – 100°F) which is just above body temperature, then head to your cool bedroom, ideally between 16 -20°C (60 – 67°F). A drop in body temperature is a natural cue for sleep.
  • Spray natural lavender or rose on your pillow every night. With time the scent of these essential oils will serve as a cue that it’s time to rest and sleep.
  • Finally, once you’re in bed, tense every muscle that you can (working from your toes up to your forehead) breathe in and puff out your chest. Be still for a moment, then exhale and completely relax. Progressive muscle relaxation can lower tension and stress levels making it easier to fall asleep.

MIND

TREND: RADICAL SELF CARE
 

Big asks and emotional assistance are the order of the day – nowadays you’ve probably got friends and family who are seeking some type of support. The idea that you must first focus on yourself with some RADICAL SELF CARE, is akin to putting your oxygen mask on first when you’re on a rapidly descending plane. After all, how many people can you help if you’re unconscious?

In effect, this trend gives you permission to say no. 

HOW TO PUT THIS TREND IN TO PRACTICE

There’s a technique for gaining focus and grounding, which I understand is often used for addressing anxiety. It came to mind when I thought of how the need to say “No” to a request for help can be a source of inner conflict or turmoil.

5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique

Start with a slow breath, followed by another.

Once you’ve got this going you’re ready to begin.

– 5 –

Acknowledge FIVE things you see. Anything at all. It could be a tree, a car, a stone, a pen or even a fly.

– 4 –

Acknowledge FOUR things you’re able to touch. Perhaps a button, hair, or piece of paper.

– 3 –

Acknowledge THREE things you can hear. This may be a clock ticking, car engine, a voice in the distance.

– 2 –

Acknowledge TWO things you can smell. You could walk to another location if needed – soap in a bathroom, coffee, hand cream.

– 1 –

Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste. No licking is necessary! Just say what you can taste right now – coffee, sausage, garlic, toothpaste, those sorts of things.

FITNESS

TREND: CYCLE SYNCING
 

Hands up if your levels of energy, focus and activity fluctuate throughout the month? If you’re a woman with a regular menstrual cycle, then the shifts in oestrogen and progesterone which occur during your cycle will probable be responsible in part. 

Research into the science of exercise finds elite female athletes have a 3 times higher risk of injury than men when playing the same sports. As bone, ligament and muscle all have receptors for oestrogen and progesterone, there could be a link between changes in hormone levels and how these tissues work.

Which leads neatly to this latest fitness trend, where you exercise according to where you are in your cycle – CYCLE SYNCING.

When you stop and think, it doesn’t make sense to expect your performance, stamina and energy levels to remain at a set level, day after day. Especially when constant fluctuations in your hormone levels govern your concentration, energy levels, digestive processes and sleeping patterns, as well as how prone you are to picking up an injury.

COULD THIS TREND DEVELOP FURTHER?

Personally, I love the principles within this trend and can easily see how they can be expanded. Do you have to have a regular monthly to cycle sync? No. Do you have to be female? I don’t believe that’s a must! 

HOW TO PRACTICE CYCLE SYNCING (EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE A MONTHLY CYCLE!)

For me, cycle syncing has two main features. 

The first is obvious – you link your exercise pattern to your hormonal balance.

You might engage in slower exercises, like yin yoga or gentle walking, if you’re more tired during your menstrual phase.

Do more strength-building exercises with a proper warm up and cool down in the follicular phase (high oestrogen makes muscles pliable and more prone to injury).

High intensity exercise, like cardio, spin, kick boxing or running, are more suited to when your hormones and energy peaks in the ovulation phase.;

Then you’d transition from high intensity to more restorative exercises as your hormones and energy starts to ebb in the luteal phase.

 

The second feature is its flexibility. You pick your exercise to suit how you feel – if you’re knackered keep things gentle, when you’re bouncing off the walls then throw your body about. I think this type of approach to activity and exercise is something everyone could benefit from, regardless of their hormonal ebb and flow.

 

When really helpful Health Trends surface it’s worth sitting up and taking note. We’re talking trends which have a positive impact on your everyday life and support your sense of well being and inner reserves. Life isn’t a one-size-fits all type of affair, so having a variety of tools in your HealthKit that you can pick and choose from when needed can only be good in the long-term. So keep these in mind for the times when you want to exercise mindfully, sleep better, take care of your emotions or improve your digestive or immune health, I believe they will serve you well.

 

IMAGES at Unsplash.com

Madison Lavern
Mateusz Feliksik
Logan Nolin
Sigmund
Derick McKinney

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