As the year draws to a close and a new year beckons, many will be reflecting on the past year and preparing to face 2022. With the pandemic still not showing signs of slowing down and the very real possibility that we will have to adjust to a new way of life, many are beginning to look at health and wellness from a whole new perspective.
In a bid to combat Covid-19, many countries have implemented various restrictions ranging from face masks to curfews, Many governments have also imposed intermittent lockdown measures. All of these have led to a surge of emotional and mental health issues which have in turn led to a bigger focus on tackling these issues.
There is also a greater awareness of the need for us to stay fit and healthy in the bid to keep the coronavirus at bay. Alongside the vaccination, there has also been a push for us to be healthier in general. Most notably, there has been rising interest in gut health as a basis to better overall physical and mental health.
In view of the above, here are some of the health trends that we predict for 2022.
- Paying attention to your mental health
Given the mental health issues that the pandemic has brought on – fear of the unknown, financial worries, grief over the loss of loved ones have all contributed to insecurity and declining mental health.
Governments and employers are increasingly aware of this and are creating awareness, encouraging people to track their mental health more closely and to seek help. Many employers are also taking active steps to offer mental health support.
Some health experts predict that people will be paying attention to their mental health more closely in 2022. Whether it be exercise, meditating, journalling, spending more time in green spaces, or practicing self-care to reduce stress, mental health will continue to be a priority next year.
2. Mindful consumption of alcohol
The connection between drinking alcohol excessively and stress cannot be denied. When people use alcohol as a crutch to deal with negative emotions, it makes them more prone to binge drinking to cope. This can in turn create issues of addiction or alcohol-related illnesses. It can also exacerbate existing mental health issues. That is why a more mindful approach to drinking alcohol can be helpful.
The annual “Dry January” trend refers to being more intentional when drinking alcohol. The idea is each time people pour a glass of wine or beer, they ask themselves why are they are drinking. It is not about completely eliminating alcohol, but more about consuming less of it and considering why they are drinking it in the first place.
3. Plant-based diets
Plant-based eating will be an upward trend in 2022, as more people look to reduce their meat intakes, Esmee Williams, vice president of consumer and brand strategy at Dotdash Meredith, told EatingWell.
She said that interest in plant-based eating articles and meal plans were up 31% in 2021 and it is expected to grow even more as more people choose to eat healthier and more sustainably.
4. Focus on the gut
Google searches for “gut health” are up by 83%, according to researchers from the international health insurance company BUPA. And they predict more people will be focusing on it in 2022, according to Country Living.
The concept of having a healthy gut is not new. Gut health describes the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. When the gut is healthy, it has a strong percentage of healthy bacteria and immune cells to fight off harmful bacteria and other harmful pathogens such as viruses and fungi.
Too many harmful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to serious illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. Poor gut health also can impact the immune system, heart and brain. So, improved gut health means improved health overall.
Given that research has also shown a correlation between gut health and mental health, it is in line with greater awareness of mental health issues to also lead to a greater interest in gut health.
Diet plays a large role in the health of the digestive system. That is why it’s important to eat a variety of whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as stay away from more processed foods, experts say. Good sleep hygiene and regular exercise are also good for gut health.
*This article does not replace professional medical advice.