Nine wellness trends to help you kick-start the New Year

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Predictions can be tricky but, given that these nine buzzy nutrition, fitness and therapeutic trends already have a footing in the wellness space, it seems safe to say they’re only going to get bigger in the New Year.

Functional Fungus

It’s not always clear what the difference is between adaptogens, superfoods and “functional foods,” but we’re about to hear even more about the superpowers of certain foods, especially mushrooms. Case in point, a new line of mushroom tonics made with reishi, chaga and lion’s mane by Ontario’s own Auralis Botanical Brewing, which is pitching its tonics as an option for people who don’t want to drink alcohol.

Lion's Mane mushrooms, touted for their ability to help people focus, are blowing up this year.

There’s a lot of buzz over the superpowers of these specific mushrooms (especially lion’s mane), so expect to see more fungus fizz on the shelf. Since my clinical trial involved a party of one (myself) and the placebo effect is a real thing, it’s hard to draw any conclusions, but I did perk up a little after I drank the lion’s mane tonic. And all three were tasty alcohol-free alternatives to savour during cocktail hour.

Raw Honey/Monofloral Honey

2023 will be a big year for monofloral honey, given the recent research from the University of Toronto.

Honey recently got the stamp of approval from researchers at the University of Toronto, who did a systematic review of the evidence and found that using it instead of sugar is associated with better cardiovascular health.

Although it’s not clear what makes honey different from other sugars, the researchers note that it’s a complex substance, “rich in phenolic compounds and flavonoids,” and contains bacteria that may be good for the gut. Some of these properties, though, are less abundant in highly processed honey, which may be why raw honey and monofloral honeys scored higher on the tests.

Since Manuka honey from New Zealand and Australia is already touted as a health balm, we can expect to see a lot more pitches for this rarefied kiwi monofloral honey. As of now, though, the research supports using any raw monofloral honey, not necessarily the most expensive one no matter how tasty it might be.

Plankton Snacks

A lot of people talk a good game about sustainable seafood, but ocean plankton—the bacteria, algae and other organisms eaten by fish—represents about the easiest and cleanest aquaculture known to mankind. While this might not be the year the masses get over the plankton yuck factor, Pinterest says that searches among the social media platform’s “pinners” for “seaweed snacks,” “chlorophyll water” and “green algae” are way up. Can plankton be far away?

Early to bed, early to rise

Whether it was burning the candle to meet a deadline or savouring an indulgent multi-course supper with friends, being nocturnal used to be cool. Now, early is the new late.

An increasing number of experts are advising that eating earlier (some say 5 p.m.!) and going to bed earlier is better for our cardiovascular health. Bad news for late night tapas bars, but things are looking up for anyone offering up an Early Bird Special.

Primal Movement

Pinterest is also predicting a surge in “primal movement,” an anti-tech fitness trend that sees people ditch their Peloton for squats and lunges. There are seven core exercises in the primal movement movement, all of which our bodies were apparently “designed” to do. Since it requires zero investment in fancy equipment or gym memberships, it’s hard not to love this lo-fi trend.

Movement Snacks

Primal movement might dovetail nicely with another trend—“movement snacks.” High-intensity workouts are losing ground in fitness circles as people attempt to find more humane regimens and, instead, incorporate movement of all kinds into their daily routine. That movement could be anything from a brief walk to a deskside squat. The point is to break up long sitting sessions and move around as often as possible.

Personalized Wellness Plans

Whether it’s how much water we should drink, our fitness regimen or a diet plan, it’s becoming increasingly clear that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. As this becomes more widely understood, expect to see more personalized plans offered up by fitness trainers, nutritionists and, of course, apps. No more keeping up with the Joneses’ workout. You do you.

Therapeutic Socialization

In 1994, Canadians reported spending, on average, 104 minutes per day with friends. Twenty years later, that number was down to 84. We won’t know if we’re getting better or worse until the next Time Use Survey is conducted but, in the United States, the survey found that hang-time with pals has dropped significantly since 2014. With all that we now know about the importance of social connection for brain health and coping with challenges (for many, but not necessarily all people), we’re likely to see a lot more emphasis on group activities—whether it’s group fitness classes or simply chatting with friends—as an integral part of self care.

Digital Mindfulness

It’s not hard to connect the dots between people spending more time alone and digital media, as economist Bryce Ward recently observed in an opinion piece in the Washington Post . The year 2014 was the first year that the majority of Americans reported owning a smartphone and it was also a year of explosive growth for Instagram—from 200 million to 300 million users in a mere eight months.

It’s hard to go cold turkey on email and social media, though, so a personalized digital mindfulness approach might be better—especially for the many of us who use it in connection with our jobs. Track your screen time, observe how mindless scrolling makes you feel, turn off some notifications and develop policies about when not to use it — such as in bed, when you’re watching Netflix, eating dinner and, obviously, anytime you’re with friends and family.

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