Monday, 9 January 2023
From the latest diet, which focuses on getting the mind into shape, to a new type of meditation that’s so quick and easy anyone can do it, here are the top health trends for 2023.
A focus on mental health including mind dieting and mental ‘CPR’, hacking women’s health, shining an ancient light on self-care, and work for wellness not just a salary, are among the health trends on the horizon as we emerge from the pandemic and strive to be our best self.
Experts from the largest private higher education provider of natural medicine courses in the Southern Hemisphere, Endeavour College and Endeavour Short Courses, have shared their insights on the ‘next big thing’ in health as we head into the new year.
Endeavour College Naturopath Lecturer and Mental Health Nurse Max Hacker: New Year’s resolutions often focus on physical health in the form of dieting, fasting, weight loss or getting into shape, but with mental health affecting so many Australians, 2023 is set to be a year when the focus is as much on mental health as physical health. With more than half of the population seeking some kind of mental health support (Mental Health Australia) in 2022 and many more waiting to see a professional, mental health education, which is only ever a click away, is seen as an accessible way to get some help and build some tools before getting in to see a professional. Expect mental health courses to become as common as CPR or First Aid training to give us all a better understanding of mental health issues and pave the way for better support, at home and in the workplace.
Endeavour College Nutrition Instructor and Nutritionist Sophie Scott: Australian psychiatrists were the first in the world to prescribe a healthy diet to treat mood disorders and now ‘nutrition psychiatry’ is the new term being used to explain the link between food and mood. They say you are what you eat and new research is increasingly showing that what we eat affects how we feel. Recent discoveries include an exciting new ‘biotic’, dubbed psychobiotics, which are being researched for their anti-anxiety and anti-depressive effects in the gut and how junk food affects the brain, not just the waistline, with studies showing heavily processed and sugar-laden food can shrink the hippocampus, the part of the brain that plays a key role in mood regulation. Nutrition psychiatry will be a core subject in an advanced gut health course launching in 2023.
Endeavour College Naturopath Lecturer Tracy Gaibisso: No longer just a place to work 9-5 to make a living, workplaces are undergoing a wellness revolution in part to retain employees in a tight labour market but also in acknowledgement of the role they play in employees’ mental and physical health. Employers are increasingly stepping up and recognising they have a duty to create a happy and healthy workplace, offering employees everything from yoga and meditation to reduce stress, nutrition education to encourage better eating habits, and mental health awareness programs. With absenteeism and presenteeism (not fully functioning at work because of medical conditions or lack of motivation) costing Australian businesses tens of billions each year (Workplace Wellness in Australia), it’s the revolution that had to happen.
Endeavour College Nutrition Instructor, Nutritionist and Environmental Scientist Sophie Scott: Powered by almond, soy and oat milk lattes, which now account for at least a quarter of all barista-made coffees in Australia, we are leading the charge on plant-based protein, an industry tipped to take off to the tune of around $10 billion (CSIRO) by 2030. Current figures suggest the sector is worth $140 million so expect to see big investment and innovation in the coming years. While tofu, Tofurky and facon have fuelled vegetarians since the 80s, it’s now time to throw a vrimp (‘shrimp’ made from seaweed and peas) on the barbie. New hyper-realistic plant-based protein products such as a lab-grown lamb chop made from cultivated meat cells are set to be as palatable to meat-lovers as actual meat, and dedicated vegan butchers prove the plant-based movement is becoming more mainstream. It’s not just about flavour, health, choice or dietary requirements, but a necessary commodity as our global population heads towards 10 billion people in the next few decades and sustainable food sources become increasingly vital. Just as Australia leads the way in animal protein, we’re on the verge of becoming a plant-based powerhouse.
Endeavour College Naturopath Lecturer Tracy Gaibisso: While there’s nothing new about the ancient practice of meditation, it’s hard to find time to be mindful and present in our fast-paced world and stillness is an increasingly sought-after commodity. Enter Mindfulness Based Stillness Meditation (MBSM), which is the accessible and achievable form of meditation anyone can squeeze into a busy day. Finding time throughout the day for snippets of stillness can allow creative ideas to flourish and the rest and relax side of the nervous system to recharge. This trend is about slowing the ever-chatting mind and connecting deeply with ourselves and with the stillness within that is our true nature, making it the perfect antidote for stress and anxiety. The best part, mindful stillness can be achieved with even the smallest pockets of time. To cultivate stillness of body and mind, close your eyes and try to block all the external sounds out for one minute. It could involve popping on headphones once an hour and zoning out, it could be a moment before turning on the car to drive home at the end of the day, while waiting for the kettle to boil, or even while sitting at a desk. You don’t have to sit in a cave for months or live like a monk to benefit from meditation, even a small, still, snippet can have big benefits.
Endeavour academic and eco-conscious parent Sue Sharpe: Amid growing economic and environmental concerns in 2022, people are learning and teaching their children a new suite of modern survival skills. Some are early downsizers, trying a tiny home or apartment to slash energy consumption and debt; others are swapping suburbia for inner city living with walking and cycling options that lean less on carbon-heavy, expensive transport to access work, school and amenities. While composting toilets or living off-grid isn’t for everyone, eco-living approaches such as engaging in local community gardens, buying odd-shaped foods, joining a toy library, and changing to an ethical bank can be embraced by anyone anywhere.
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