Wellness Trends 2024: Health Experts On What Will Be Big In 2024
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Long hours of being seated or working at computers are some of the largest contributors to health issues like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and musculoskeletal issues. With the rise of technology, activities that involve physical movement have decreased to the bare minimum. Aggravating this is the increased screen time, anxiety and exhaustion – all of which cumulatively add up to increased health problems.

A prolonged neglect of physical health creates dependency which might be inconvenient and unfavourable for both, the person in question as well as those around them. Not that is to say that people have not been taking proactive steps towards physical well-being; however, since fitness isn’t a template solution and each body varies from another, it becomes complicated to propagate just one particular lifestyle that can be defined as healthy. Preventing diseases and ailments through physical activity and proper nutrition, are key to ensuring longevity that is holistic and sustainable.

While regular health check-ups and medical interventions should ideally be last resort to an issue that is to do with the body, various kinds of alternate lifestyles directed towards the promise of well-being have come into play over the last few years. The realisation amongst most social classes about the importance of having a functional body has also offered the boost to an industrial amount of fads which have become prominent as a way of living. From veganism to allergy-free diets, pilates and the ever-evolving forms of yoga – the world has seen it all.

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Sameer Sthalekar, a Naturopathic doctor based in Mumbai, says that when it comes to health practices, plant-based diets continue to be on the forefront of lifestyle choices. “Although India has been a predominantly vegetarian culture, meat alternatives are available in plenty when you drop by at a grocery store. People are willing to go beyond the usual protein alternatives of dals and paneer to include tempeh and tofu in their diets. It’s not something you would’ve heard anyone even talk about casually until two years ago,” he adds.

He also adds that with social media and conversations about how important it is to eat what’s in season, people have been displaying keen interest in trying newer vegetables to increase the diversity on their plate. “I recommend all my patients to include at least 15-20 different varieties of fruits, vegetables and leafy greens in their meals, during a week. Given how polluted our food is, it can be a challenge to derive nutrients from a limited variety of foods, so expanding the palate is more of a necessity than choice,” quips Sameer.

On the other hand, Bengaluru-based wellness practioner, Vrinda T. believes that the world is just beginning to discover the positive effects of cryo and cold-water therapy – a practice that Indian culture has prescribed via Ayurveda for centuries. “Waking up in the morning and bathing in cold water, no matter what the weather is outside, was a habit that I remember my grandmother inculcating in us as children. If you notice, people belonging to the older generation have only now begun to experience the onset of lifestyle-related ailments. This was uncommon or unheard of even 40 years ago. That’s because cold water baths are excellent in relieving muscle pain and allowing the body to recuperate to be able enough to pull load through the day,” she says.

Vrinda also points out that her clients have been receptive to taking time off of their hectic schedules to ‘silence their mind and body, as a way of creating oneness in retreats that are close to nature.’ Travelling outside of urban spaces for some calm and quiet has become the norm, given how densely populated cities are. A quick vacation here and a yoga retreat there are some of the ways, those interested in healing have been turning to as a way of therapy. She also makes a point when she says, “Calming the mind is as necessary as focussing on the body or how much one weighs these days. Most physical ailments are a manifestation of the stress and strain we put on our minds, which translates to habits like substance abuse, over-eating, insomnia and alcoholism – and they’re all directly linked to the causes of health issues.”

This is indeed reaffirming a report released by the Global Wellness Institute, which says that ‘wellness tourism’ is to shoot up b y 21% in the upcoming year, as more and more people make an effort to find respite without the involvement of alcohol or drugs to make themselves feel better. “The need to feel ‘light’ has seeped into every aspect of our daily lives. Most of the people I interact with talk about how they want to be at peace, rather than be happy, since that is something in shortage these days,” Vrinda chuckles.

Sameer also endorses the idea with a different approach, where he says that what you eat and how much you consume is directly linked to the way one is able to endure the everyday challenges that is thrown our way. He shares a simple example of how not passing proper motion in the morning, sub-consciously has an effect on our mood for the day. “Although it is difficult to understand at first, eating a diet rich in not only vegetables – but also millets, whole grains, seeds and nuts is important to maintain that delicate balance we all strive for. One of the first questions I ask my patients when they pay me a visit is how much screen time they are exposed to on an average. That really helps to determine what their dietary patterns might be like – which almost always has some kind of junk food, sugar, alcohol or eating disorder involved.” Well, here’s hoping 2024 is the year we’re all kinder to our bodies and minds!