Wellness Trends in 2017

People are refocusing their priorities, individually and as a society, and reaching for new tools and innovative approaches to fitness, diet, mindfulness, and the environment.

1

Nutrition Gets Personal

INDIVIDUALIZED NUTRITION PRODUCTS

Take a look at Habit, a company that uses clients’ DNA to suggest optimized meals.

Do people all need the exact same food, at the exact same time, in the same way?  People are all different sizes, shapes, ages.Habit gathers the results of at-home health kit and analyzes 60 biomarkers to craft optimized meal plans, which a team of chefs then whips up and delivers to your door. Their business plan was convincing enough to earn a $32 million investment from Campbell Soups.

DNAFit takes a similar approach, using genetic insights to recommend tailored nutrition and fitness advice. DayTwo is using clients’ intestinal microbiome to better ascertain their needs. Care/of, a vitamin startup, uses a broad-reaching questionnaire to curate users’ selections of supplements; Some people are looking for healthier hearts or bones, or improved digestion, greater energy, or lessened stress.

study published this August adds scientific cred to the trend. It found that “personalized nutrition advice helped people to make bigger and more appropriate changes to their diets than the conventional healthy eating advice which was followed by our control group.” That’s enough to make us embrace our individuality.

 

2

Less Is More: The Age Of Fashion Minimalism

Minimalism is part of the cultural zeitgeist. The fashion minimalism movement gained massive traction this year as a reaction against excessive consumption.

What started as a very basic concept (clean lines, few prints, and no excesses), has morphed into a personalized, curated kind of minimalism (themes include sensuality, simplicity, androgyny). The nearly 5 million images tagged #minimalism on Instagram include monochromatic apparel, white sneakers, clouds, and grassy fields. So long as it’s stylishly austere, it seems, it’s minimalist.

America’s tradition of fashion minimalism can be traced back to Calvin Klein’s runway launch in 1968, defined by its simplicity and purity. This idea of streamlining your wardrobe and spending less time fussing over an outfit certainly resonates with the modern woman and extends beyond the look—it’s about consumers becoming completely aware of the whole process, from design through production, through use, and through the potential to reuse.

The result is that it’s the small details that speak the loudest. A growing number of homespun labels are currently at the forefront of the trend, proving that minimalism is anything but boring. The fashion industry is evolving toward greener practices and products. Many of the latest wave of sustainably minded designers have shifted their focus away from strictly organic materials (which tend to be basic) in favor of a more holistic approach that takes into account the entire life cycle of a piece of clothing, from its carbon footprint to the livelihood of who made it.

Launched this fall, Khaite is a balance of masculine and feminine that encapsulates the capsule wardrobe concept completely. Then there’s designer Alnea Farahbella of Toit Volant, who’s causing major fashion waves with her USA-made label committed to sustainable sourcing and manufacturing practices. LA-based label Saul shows that minimalism and pattern aren’t mutually exclusive—everything is crafted from dead-stock vintage fabrics, giving the clothes a nostalgic feel. For Siizu, sustainability is the driving force behind every decision, and it all begins with the fabric. Dedicated to exclusively using textiles that are 100 percent organic and eco-friendly (even the packaging is completely recyclable), this is an online eco site for no-fuss pieces. People help set the standard, people enact change.

 

3

THE SOBRIETY MOVEMENT …

evolves from fringe interest to pervasive culture

In the past, if someone said they were “sober,” it usually meant they were a recovering alcoholic. But over the past few years, a shift has started to occur. We’ve seen Americans put more focus on health, and the next frontier is our drinking habits.

In the last year, the sobriety movement has presented itself as one solution for the growing dissatisfaction we have with our lack of real, genuine connection and/or careers that don’t challenge and energize us.

The popularity of alcohol-free beverages is only growing, and in 2017, we’ll see even more of a shift toward mindful interactions and refreshing alternatives. Cities like LA and NYC are already gaining momentum, propelled by trendsetting watering holes and restaurants eager to catch the wave. In New York alone, high-end bar and eatery Gabriel Kreuther has added a selection of nonalcoholic drinks to their cocktail menu, and farm-to-table resto Riverpark is offering Temperance Coolers, inspired by and composed of local, seasonal ingredients—just like everything else on the menu. But this isn’t just an East Coast thing.

At the opposite end of the country in San Francisco and Oakland, breweries like Copenhagen-based Mikkeller are beginning to cater to the connoisseur who wants to enjoy the experience of a well-crafted beer without the buzz. Mikkeller’s Drink’in The Sun 13 rates at just 0.26 ABV, but features flavors as rich and diverse as lemon, grapefruit, peach, and apricot. At the same alcohol level, Drink’in The Snow gives you a holiday flavor profile complete with clove, coriander, and orange. This year, we’ll see the availability and variety of nonalcoholic options expand further.

 

4

WELLNESS is more than Yoga + Meditation: it is a sensory experience

In the past few years, more people than ever have turned to yoga and meditation as a means of improving their lives and coping with anxiety and stress. In late 2016, all-inclusive wellness studios began popping up in the healthy hubs of the world.

Multi-sensory wellness centers aim to help their clients experience a natural high by playing up the senses. One studio of note is the Manhattan-based WOOM, which focuses on delivering yoga-inspired experiences that also utilize sound healing, visualization, scent, and are sealed with an elixir. Inscape‘s spacious meditation center is another Manhattan-based studio worth noting. Founded by Khajak Keledjian, the former CEO of Intermix, Inscape uses sound healing, sight, texture, and taste to deliver a 360-experience.

“Meditation shifted—it used to be about spirituality but now people understand its benefits, the science, and how it can empower them to connect to their best selves, to live to their fullest potential, to be present,” says Khajak. “Multisensory experiences are immersive. By actively engaging the senses and the mind, we empower people to be fully absorbed in the present moment. That immersion allows for something to enter into a state of ‘being’ when often we are all in a state of “doing.”

 

5

Ugly Greens Take The Spotlight As Restaurateurs & Brands Take Steps To Fight Food Waste

Roughly 40 percent of food in the United States goes to waste. That’s over 70 billion pounds wasted per year or nearly 250 pounds per person. The ugly produce movement has raised awareness of the global impact of food waste, and there is a rise in the demand for more integrity and transparency in food production.

This past year, chefs like Dan Barber started to share these problems with consumers—and attempt solutions. At his New York pop-up and community movement wastED, he strives to create delicious, appetizing food out of the food that typically goes to waste at different parts in the food chain.

Ugly Greens, from NYC rooftop grower Gotham Greens, may be slightly less aesthetically appealing than their “pretty” counterparts, but they also sell for $1 less, and bring awareness, via text on their packaging, to the fact that most brands would typically throw the perfectly good product away. “Consumers increasingly care about how and where their food is produced,” says CEO Viraj Puri.

Gotham Greens has just begun selling their Ugly Greens at Whole Foods. Last spring, Whole Foods also committed to a full-scale ugly produce program, announced in response to a Change.org petition, being produced in partnership with Imperfect Produce, a delivery service that sends boxes of beat-up beets and not-so-cute carrots straight to consumers’ doors. Over on social media, the Ugly Fruit and Veg campaign is working to spread awareness that yes, you can eat that twisted turnip.

In 2017, it’ll become more normal to see blemished fruits and vegetables on the shelves of your local stores as consumers become aware of the pervasiveness of food waste.

 

6

Mezcal Moves To The Top Of The Cocktail Menu

The wellness set is raising a glass to mezcal. The distinctive, smoky distilled spirit has soared in popularity with sales doubling over the past four years, making its way onto cocktail menus nationwide. This year it’s poised for a complete takeover. For the health-conscious, mezcal’s traditional, small-batch, rustic origins hold the key to its appeal. Whereas tequila production has largely been outsourced to large-scale factories, mezcal is still made almost exclusively in the Mexican town of Oaxaca, where agave is mashed by hand, roasted in underground pits, and left to ferment in the open air, taking on alluringly idiosyncratic characteristics.

“When I first started noticing mezcal on craft cocktail lists in New York City around 2009 the selection was still severely limited,” says Cody Pruitt, beverage director of one of New York City’s newest Mezcal bars, Casa Neta Mezcaleri. “But bartenders quickly picked up on it. Now I’ve seen and used mezcal in riffs on classic cocktails—a mezcal negroni is a beautiful thing, perhaps even better than the original gin-based version—tiki drinks, and even in a new eggnog recipe.” Pruitt says it’s mezcal’s floral notes, minerality, earthiness, and overall “funkiness” that make it such a dynamic component in cocktails. “Our collective palates are getting more and more educated these days,” he says.

Emerging brand Gem & Bolt is marketing to (of-age) millennials, selling a mezcal infused with damiana, a Mexican herb traditionally associated with healing properties. Co-founder Elliott Bennett Coon explains their twist on the spirit: “It’s a recipe we created closely with our fourth-generation producer and an in-house chemist, meticulously crafting it to honor the true essence and production of mezcal, but we augmented it with this very special plant, damiana. It’s a joyful marriage.” Coon says drinkers are increasingly interested in the production of their food, craving an understanding of the story behind the product. Chris Reyes of The Black Ant mezcal bar says his patrons go for mezcal because “it’s healthier than a lot of spirits out there. It comes from a plant, and plants are in style.” We’ll drink to that.

 

7

COMMUNAL GATHERING SOCIAL SPACES

Helps promote social interaction, promotes human contact and a sense of community.

This modern re-imagination of a social club doesn’t require a prerequisite of belonging to a separate community to participate. The only thing you need is a desire to connect. People can meet and support one another as a means to well-being, acknowledging that community and connection to others is one of the ways we can care for ourselves.

Starbucks opened a door to the need for a space for people to gather and talk. How can we develop new ways for people to connect if they would like to?

 

8

The Ketogenic Diet

The trendiest diet since paleo, Keto is one of the most-searched wellness trends and dozens of keto Instagram accounts, cookbooks, and podcasts are now starting to emerge. While plant-based diets are still beloved and going strong, people are intrigued by the potential neurological benefits of this high-fat, low-sugar diet that has been used as an effective treatment for epilepsy since the 1920s and is now being studied as a therapy option for conditions like Alzheimer’s and autism.

The main goal of the ketogenic diet is to train your body to rely on fat (instead of glucose) for fuel. When you restrict your intake of carbohydrates you enter a metabolic state called ketosis in which the body produces ketone bodies from fat to use as energy. Ketosis is a totally normal evolutionary adaptation for times when food was not quite as plentiful and available as it is now.

The ketogenic diet has been endorsed by leading integrative medicine doctors like Dr. Mark Hyman, who praises high-fat diets in his book Eat Fat, Get Thin, saying that when you don’t get enough fat, you are starving your brain, which is nearly 60 percent fat. Others, like Dr. David Perlmutter—author of Grain Brain—say that ketones bodies are “profoundly neuroprotective” and can increase levels of brain-protective antioxidants and stimulate the mitochondria, which can affect energy levels. Many keto enthusiasts praise the diet for its anti-inflammatory effects on the GI system and ability to increase energy levels and muscle mass while decreasing hunger pangs and total caloric intake.

The ketogenic diet is only recommended under a doctor’s supervision but definitely expresses potential not just for an alternative treatment for neurological diseases but for athletes and anyone looking to nourish their brain. Expect to see more research on the long-term benefits and effectiveness of the ketogenic diet popping up in 2017. Look to see plant-based versions of this diet and less extreme ways to reap similar benefits.

 

9

MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS are the new Superfood

Mushrooms have long been a staple in the culinary community, but this past year, they’ve burst onto the superfood scene. No longer relegated to stir-fries and stroganoffs, mushrooms are being lauded by functional medicine experts everywhere for their abilities to fight cancer, quell inflammation, balance blood sugar, and more.

“Mushroom extracts are unique because they contain polysaccharides and beta-glucans, compounds that activate the immune system by increasing white blood cell count,” says Dr. Mark Stengler, author of The Health Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms. “They’re also one of the few natural sources of vitamin D, with anywhere from 140 to 2,000 IU per 100 grams of mushrooms.”

The healing power of mushrooms is nothing new, though. Used medicinally in Russia, China, and Japan for centuries, mushrooms are at the base of many modern pharmaceuticals, from penicillin to anticancer drugs and the first statin treatments. The main driver of this ‘new’ excitement around mushrooms is mostly based on their possible health benefits to many of the biggest modern-day health issues. Mushrooms have shown great promise to be able to protect and detox our bodies from pathogens and toxins that we all unfortunately face every day. New processes have also made it easier to extract the benefits of mushrooms into easily consumed, therapeutically effective powdered extracts.

 

10

INFRARED SAUNAS are the new Spa Treatment

Infrared saunas are a unique new trend that’s gaining major popularity in the wellness community. These saunas use a different type of heat wave—the same that hospitals have been using in rehab and to keep premature babies warm—that permeates the body and raises its core temperature. Because of this, infrared saunas are actually cooler than traditional saunas and reach about 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, while traditional saunas can reach nearly 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Because the heating system is different, infrared saunas also provide different health benefits like soothed muscles and joints, more powerful detoxification, and deeper relaxation…and they make you sweat more.

Originating in New York and Los Angeles, 30-minute sauna spa sessions are quickly becoming the trendiest way to detox and reap the benefits of a workout in major American cities. Lauren Berlingeri, cofounder of HigherDOSE, which opened last year in New York City (DOSE stands for Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins), says her clients love coming in off the busy city street for an instant energy shift, glowing skin, and a more open heart. These saunas are a unique trend because they work for people of all fitness levels and the immediate positive results are what keeps her clients coming back for more, often leaving their first session declaring that they are “totally addicted.”

The consensus seems to be that a 30-minute infrared session will have you sweating like you just did hot yoga and is an overall efficient way to detox, ease pain, speed muscle recovery, and de-stress.

11

affordable, accessible WELLNESS is going mainstream

In today’s age of organically sourced powders, boutique fitness classes, and exotic wellness retreats, investing in your health can get expensive fast. But that’s about to change. As the average person’s interest in mind-body wellness continues to climb, industry leaders will keep exploring creative strategies to make healthy living as accessible as it is aspirational.

We’re also noticing established wellness meccas like Whole Foods Market making this shift toward high-vibe living at a lower price point with its  365 brand that appeals to millennials looking to eat healthy on a budget.  Target is also expanding its budget-friendly healthy options with its Made to Matter campaign that highlights brands that produce natural, organic, sustainable products.

Holistic wellness centers are carrying this trend beyond our plates by offering affordable ways to relax and disconnect. There are now many walk-in massage studios with prices starting at $35. Large- and small-scale health establishments will most likely continue to drive down their prices and gear their marketing toward the everyday consumer this year. From coast to coast, WELLNESS will become less elite and more everyday.