December 27, 2020
Saying that 2020 has been a tough year is probably the understatement of the century, right? With the coronavirus devastating lives and livelihoods, there hasn't been a part of our society that went upturned.
As we say goodbye to 2020 and usher in a new year, one thing seems certain. Health trends in 2021 will continue to be shaped by the pandemic.
From personal health tracking devices to a lot more kelp, here are the eight of the biggest health trends expected in the new year.
Businesses in all sectors have had to adapt quickly during the pandemic to protect employee and customer health from the coronavirus. From paperless business transactions to sanitation stations and screening technology in the workplace, innovation-driven technology was necessary for survival in 2020 and no doubt will be in 2021 as well.
Telemedicine isn't a new concept, but it was given new life in 2020. Forrester analysts predict the number of virtual health care visits will reach one billion by the end of the year. And as Americans continue to restrict their activities to avoid exposure to the coronavirus, experts predict 2021 will bring the same demand for remote medicine opportunities.
Food technology also will be evolving in 2021. Dietitians say that more food companies are investigating the way artificial intelligence can help create vegan options. The company Perfect Day has created a vegan dairy protein that can be used in "ice creams." Another company, Eat Just, creates an egg-free product with AI.
Microgreens – think of those baby radishes and cabbage that you normally only see used as garnish at fancy restaurants – will be showing up in more kitchens in 2021. Studies have shown that microgreens are more nutrient-filled than full-grown vegetables and can be easily added to sandwiches, salads and smoothies. You can even grow them at home, which can be handy in the middle of a pandemic. Seed kits are available from companies such as Back to the Roots.
Seaweed, or kelp, has been an integral part of Asian cuisine for thousands of years, but here in the U.S., it isn't a major part of our diets – yet. Some culinary experts say that this will change in 2021. Fresh kelp, which is both rich in nutrients and environmentally friendly, will be showing up more in American-made dishes.
The link between metabolic health and immunity was highlighted like never before in 2020 and will continue to be stressed in the new year, experts predict. Studies have shown that metabolic conditions, such as obesity and diabetes, raise a person's risk for severe COVID-19. But now medical experts say that even if you are of healthy weight, you may be metabolically unhealthy and this can weaken your immunity.
According to one report, up to 88% of Americans are metabolically unhealthy. What does this mean? Dr. Julie Foucher-Urcuyo, a family physician, explains it this way: "Metabolic dysfunction is any abnormal regulation of blood sugar, lipids or a chronic state of inflammation that leads to disease later on." This dysfunction can lead to obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other health issues.
Personal health technology will skyrocket in 2021 with wearable brands featuring more micro-tracking features such as pulse oximetry and heart rate variability, experts say. COVID-19 has certainly taught us the importance of continuous monitoring of health metrics for avoiding health emergencies.
Wearables and apps that monitor mental health also will be popular in 2021 as we continue to monitor our mental and emotional well-being during the pandemic. More people will be using relaxation and visualization exercises to strengthen their resilience and mental fitness during these challenging times. Mental fitness refers to maintaining brain and emotional health through exercises that force you to slow down, decompress and improve your memory, psychologists say.
During COVID-19 restrictions, fitness studios have been forced to create alternative workout options for their customers in order to survive. It is inevitable that the gym workout will be redefined in 2021, fitness experts say, as fitness centers continue to offer more outdoor workout sessions and virtual classes to meet their customers' needs.