When it comes to taking care of ourselves, the pillars and foundations rarely change. (Will anything packed into a pill or potion really ever top a good night’s sleep?!)
But every year brings a new set of wellness buzzwords and themes to the fore – here’s a look at what’s in store for 2024…
Down with ultra-processed foods
Ultra-processed foods (UPFs) came into focus during 2023, with major studies highlighting links with poorer health among people who regularly consume them. Now, 2024’s predicted to see a growing shift towards going back basics with proper ingredients.
“Ditching UPFs is sure to become the new year diet trend, as people become even more tuned in to issues such as food provenance and production, and the effect this has on health,” says nutritionist Rob Hobson, author of Unprocess Your Life: Break Free From Ultra-Processed Foods For Good (Thorsons, out January 4).
“People are fed up with weight-loss books and diet fads, but taking time out to reduce their intake of UPF is a challenge I think many people will be setting,” Hobson adds.
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AI in wellness
Interest in AI has boomed, with the emergence of Language Learning Models (LLMs), Generative AI and its increasingly complex capabilities – and experts predict it’ll be all over the wellness industry in 2024.
“AI in the fitness industry so far isn’t truly Generative AI but has been more of a gimmick. What is now coming are AI assistants helping to guide you to the right choices, pulling data from your wearable (heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep and exercise) and connecting this with your Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) to understand how your diet is effecting your health and performance,” says Robbie Johnston, Co-founder of HAWQ.
“An AI coach can generate the correct exercise protocol based on your sleep, food intake and stress levels. You’d be surprised how with the correct prompting, Chat GPT can create personalised workout and meal plans for you.”
Leaning into longevity
Chances are we’ll see more of a spotlight on longevity across health and fitness too. According to Joanne Mathews, CEO and founder of Ten Health & Fitness, this is about “an approach to living that prioritises quality of life as we age – it’s about being able live fitter, stronger, more active, healthier and happier for longer.”
Not to be confused with bio-hacking and elaborate, expensive attempts to halt ageing, this is more about bringing things back into balance with an eye on long-term outcomes. Pilates is a prime example, as well as massage and physiotherapy – supporting strength, mobility, injury prevention and recovery.
“It’s a holistic approach that promotes a balanced approach to wellness as much as pure fitness, and encompasses diet and nutrition, sleep, emotional and mental wellbeing, and of course exercise and recovery,” adds Mathews. “The right kind of exercise modality is key.”
“Metabolic workouts are designed to optimise calorie expenditure throughout and post-workout. This method involves exerting maximal physical effort in a brief, high-intensity session by engaging in compound movements that activate multiple muscle groups simultaneously,” explains Don Saladino, personal trainer and Lumen ambassador.
Tapping into our goals to get the most out of short workout windows, while metabolic training can offer well-rounded benefits including cardio, the strength-building elements are key.
“Overall, increasing your muscle is the most important element in metabolic workouts,” adds Saladino. “Muscle mass is a highly active tissue that requires energy for maintaining its activity, which contributes to increasing your basal metabolic rate.”
Soaking up CBD
The CBD market has boomed in recent years, with an ever-growing range of products available – from drinks and supplements to oils. Zara Kenyon, wellness editor at Cannaray, thinks CBD will make an even bigger splash in bathing and self-care rituals in 2024.
“While CBD health isn’t new – it’s now well-established in the wellness world – end-of-year Google searches indicate its star is still rising with a 380% increase,” says Kenyon. “And CBD baths are being lauded for their calming properties.”
Cannaray’s new CBD hero products include a Bath Melt CBD Bath Bomb, plus Lip Rescue CBD Lip Balm and Hand Rescue CBD Hand Cream, created in collaboration with Claudia Winkleman.
Caffeine falling out of favour
Noticed a growing shift towards people ditching coffee? This could be a growing trend in 2024.
“Covid catapulted a slow-brewing trend in wellness, and since, there has been increased education and concern surrounding caffeine and anxiety, resulting in many shifting from a higher caffeine content-containing cup of coffee to a milder cup of tea,” says Urvashi Agarwal, founder of JP’s Originals – who believes people are realising the difference between “seeking comfort in a hot drink, versus seeking a caffeine fix”.
She adds: “The move from caffeine to de-caffeinated options during the day could also be to help improve sleep quality, as more people than ever are struggling with sleep.”
Alongside this, tea boasts additional health benefits, says Agarwal: “Tea is rich in antioxidants but more importantly contains the amino acid L-Theanine, which is known to help with sleep, stress, focus and anxiety.
“Another reason people may be making the switch is due to the rise of Matcha, which provides a caffeine boost without the jitters. The caffeine source in Matcha involves a slower release of energy, making it more sustained through your system.”
Brain health is a growing concern in general – and this is increasingly being reflected in wellness trends.
“Trending ingredients which support brain health and focus have been a hot topic for a number of years now, with food and supplements like B-Vitamins taken to help support focus,” says Alex Glover, nutritional development lead at Holland & Barrett.
“However, we’re continuing to see an increased desire to optimise brain health, protect and enhance our minds, and 2024 will take this a step further with a number of ingredients predicted to the spotlight around this topic.
“Whether it be supporting our minds with supplements, or new crops entering the wellness space, such as wild blueberries, the focus will be on what is beneficial to our cognitive function, how we can help with faster reaction times, and how to support our overall memory.
“2024 will also see us understanding more about the benefits of aromatherapy on cognitive function, with very early research investigating the link between aromatherapy essential oils and word recall.”