A new year means new trends in health and wellness. In 2020, technological advances will continue to drive how health and wellness services are received, with convenience being one of the driving forces that will impact everything from healthcare to what we might be consuming for meals or snacks. Another theme for the coming months is the evolution of strategies to better manage stress and incorporate more mindfulness into our routines, whether in the supplement aisle or in the fitness studio. This piece highlights which trends to be on the lookout for in 2020, with simple guidance on whether to try them or pass.
1. Expanding telehealth services
As technology continues to evolve and coverage for services expands, telehealth services will also continue to change the landscape of how healthcare is provided. According to the American Telemedicine Association, telehealth services are “technology enabled health and care management delivery systems that extend capacity and access” to consumers. While there isn’t a common definition of telehealth, it might include services like a live videoconferencing session with a healthcare provider; remote patient monitoring using diagnostic tools to measure blood pressure, blood sugar or other vital signs; mobile health, which uses technology to provide specialized health information; or peer support groups. The benefits of telehealth include improving access to care, reducing healthcare costs and improving the quality of services provided and convenience for patients. Currently, coverage for telehealth services does vary, which impacts utilization. At least 32 states and the District of Columbia require private insurers to cover telemedicine as they would in-person services. Medicare covers telehealth for specific circumstances. Medicaid telehealth coverage varies depending on the state, as each state determines whether or not they will provide coverage and what services will be covered.
Try or pass?
Try! If available, telehealth services may be more convenient to receive healthcare services and, because of that, may also make you more engaged in caring for your health. Just be sure to check whether or not your insurance will provide coverage for the telehealth services you would like to receive from the comfort of your own home. Worried about trying telehealth? Keep in mind that while telehealth services are great for specific health needs, they won’t completely replace your need for face-to-face visits with your healthcare providers.
2. More CBD product options
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil has been one of the most popular items to hit the wellness scene in 2019, and the number of products containing CBD will likely continue to expand in 2020. CBD is the non-psychoactive compound derived from the Cannabis sativa, or hemp, plant. It does not produce the feeling of a “high,” or intoxication, associated with marijuana. Some research has suggested that CBD may have some potential therapeutic benefits, including reducing seizure frequency in childhood epilepsy, improving sleep for those suffering from insomnia, helping with chronic pain management, and improving symptoms in anxiety-related disorders. Research is still evolving in this area and is somewhat limited. Consumers should be aware that many CBD products are marketed with unproven health claims and have not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has, however, evaluated some products for the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds and found that many contained less CBD than the level claimed by the product. Bottom line: Consumers should be aware that the quality of CBD oil and products containing CBD vary in terms of quality and that product claims may not be substantiated by research.
Try or pass?
The answer depends on the purpose of the CBD use. Try ONLY if you do your research and discuss further with your healthcare provider. It is important to evaluate the type of product you are considering in terms of quality and ensure that CBD won’t interfere with any of your prescription drugs. Remember that currently there isn’t any standardized quality control on the types of CBD-containing products on the market.
3. Fresh convenience foods
Convenience food will no longer just mean “fast food” but will shift to foods or meals that contain fresh, nutritious ingredients that are still delivered on demand. Technology has helped slowly shift the landscape toward providing consumers with more convenient ways to prepare or receive meals at home. Services that provide fresh ingredients and meal-plan assistance will continue to grow, along with options for receiving fresh, already-prepared meals at your doorstep. Additionally, the availability of fresh, convenient food options will not just be reserved for meals but also consumers should be able to find even more portable fresh options for on-the-go snacking in grocery stores, gas stations and perhaps even some vending machines.
A few companies are leading the way in these fresh-convenience options, such as Chicago-based Farmer’s Fridge, which was established in 2013. Farmer’s Fridge provides automated smart fridges that are stocked with fresh, chef-curated meals and snacks weekly. Unsold food is either donated or composted depending upon the expiration date. Continue to keep an eye out for more companies like Farmer’s Fridge that are looking to improve options for consumers by offering produce-packed meals and snacks that are not only portable but delicious.
Try or Pass?
Try. Finding ways to incorporate more produce into your diet at both meals and snacks is always important. Unfortunately, traditional quick, fast-food establishments don’t provide many good options for including fresh produce as part of the meal or snack. Improving the convenience and availability of fresh produce helps improve consumption and provides consumers with varied choices.
4. Hybrid yoga
Hybrid yoga is a combination of a traditional yoga practice with other forms of physical activity, such as dance, Pilates, strength training or acrobatics. Although hybrid yoga isn’t completely new, some predict consumers will see more of these types of classes offered in 2020. There are a few benefits to this type of practice, including new challenges for muscles due to the mixed physical activity routine and the integration of a more mindful practice approach with other forms of physical activity. Hybrid yoga classes are also increasingly taking place outside of the yoga studio in other community or fitness venues, which may increase access and availability.
Try or pass?
Try. The best type of physical activity is the kind that is enjoyable, and of course we don’t know if it is enjoyable until we try it. Consider signing up for a hybrid yoga class that incorporates a traditional form of physical activity that you already enjoy. The benefits include improvements for both physical and mental health.
A final note
There are always new trends in the health and wellness space, making it difficult to determine which habits are worth trying and which we should skip. The boom of social media has perhaps made it even more difficult and confusing by creating a platform for wellness influencers, some without any real credentials related to healthcare or wellness, who promote foods, supplements and workout routines to the public. These influencers are often paid via brand partnerships to tout the latest fads and products that allegedly will help one lose weight, improve energy or achieve that “ideal” body. It is always important to consider the source, do your own research, consult with your healthcare provider, and decide if what’s trending is the best option to include as part of your health routine this year.