Health and wellness continue to remain a priority in our busy, stressed-out worlds, as we all try and strike a balance and pursue a full, yet healthy, life. If you’ve made it a goal to get your health on track this year, here are some global trends making waves that will soon hit South African shores (if they haven’t already):
- Anti-diet culture
Gone are the days of trying to mimic supermodel waifs, and in are healthy diets, packed with all the good stuff. Luckily, we’ve learnt that significantly reducing our calorie intake in the hope that the weight would stay off and the ‘diet’ would work, only leads us into an unhappy weight seesaw, which is damaging to our bodies (and metabolisms) in the long run. Fitness influencers these days are all about healthy portion sizes and regular eating, but the secret is to load up your plate with all the right things: unrefined whole foods, with a mix of different food types. And what about that block of chocolate you’ve been eyeing? If you allow yourself a block or two, you’ll be less likely to have cravings and binge eat further down the line. Ultimately, you should focus on adding healthy food to your diet instead of severely restricting yourself – the aim is to develop a sustainable positive relationship with food, where you provide your body with just what it needs.
- Sweating in the sauna
While the health benefits of using a sauna have been sparking conversation recently, this ancient ritual is certainly nothing new. Many cultures around the world have long viewed saunas as places of community, offering health improvements and even spiritual enlightenment. The word ‘sauna’ is derived from Finnish and the central role the sauna plays in this country’s culture may well be a reason that Finland continues to be voted ‘the happiest country in the world’ in various polls. Beyond the mental health benefits, saunas are said to improve blood pressure and circulation, ease muscle tension, give you glowing skin, and even improve your heart health. Another way of maximising your health is to go for regular assessments and screenings such as pap smears, cholesterol checks and more – some medical aids like Fedhealth offer various screening benefits to their members as part of their offerings.
- Training with your cycle
Conversations around menstrual health and cycles continue to grow, and this looks set to continue in 2024, according to a trend report from British health brand Holland & Barrett. More specifically, there’s been a growth in customising your training programme each month in line with the different stages of your cycle, in order to maximise effectiveness and your overall health. Each phase of your cycle is fuelled by hormones, and it can be helpful to know which phase is best for pushing your body, and which times are best to take it a bit easier.
- The popularity of protein
A few decades ago, protein was seen in a negative light from a dietary perspective, but that’s completely changed. In fact, the macronutrient protein was hugely popular in 2023—TikTok data shows that #highprotein scored a massive 2 billion U.S. views in the last 12 months. Protein isn’t necessarily a big hunk of meat, protein can come in plant-based forms, as well as in fish, protein-infused snacks, yoghurts and smoothies. The health benefits are that protein contributes to building muscle and it keeps you feeling fuller for longer – making you less likely to snack on unhealthy foods. As always though, moderation is key, and the trick is to eat a well-balanced diet featuring different food types.
Trends are certainly interesting to take note of – but bear in mind that if you have a specific health issue you should always consult with your doctor as a first step. Taking an interest in your health is commendable and testing out a few of these trends is a great way to explore your overall wellness, and work towards a healthier future.