The most popular health trends for 2021
2020 revolutionised the way many of us think about health, immunity and wellness. And some controversial and downright strange trends have suddenly become top dog in Google searches: think Yoni Steaming for one (we’ll let you Google that!).
But, it’s clear that a year so unlike any other has encouraged us all to be a little more accountable of our own health and give our daily practises a tweak here and there to support whole-body health, and cement these growing trends.
Recent research from supplement creators YourZooki shared some interesting insights in health trends over the last decade with an increase in interest in both mental and physical health support including; mindfulness apps (5,116%), gut health (2,577%) plant-based diets (1,822%) and circadian lighting (1,600%).
Flexitarianism has also been an emerging trend over the past decade with Brits opting for more sustainable food choices.
A study of 2,000 Brits by Rustlers revealed that, in a bid to be more environmentally friendly, nearly a third (31%) plan on eating more meat-free products in 2021 compared to last year, and four in 10 have the environment at the forefront of their mind.
It’s clear to see that most of us are putting health and wellness firmly on the agenda for 2021. So, what are the health trends we expect to see grow in popularity?
Based on what we’ve all been searching for on Google, Dr Petra Simic, Clinical Director for Bupa Health Clinics, reveals seven health trends for this year, so should we follow them for good reason? Let’s take a closer look.
Fit mindfulness into your schedule
The last year has left many of us feeling anxious, worried and stressed. It’s more important than ever to prioritise your well-being, and mindfulness is a great place to start. Searches on Google for ‘mindfulness’ remained continually high last year, peaking to 60,500 searches in April.
Being mindful is about being really connected to and aware of what’s going on in our minds and bodies. Setting regular time aside to focus on the present through mindfulness has lots of benefits for our health: it can reduce burnout, prevent depression and ease any stress.
Mindfulness is for everyone: all you need is a quiet space and time to reflect. Why not set aside 10 minutes each morning to practise mindfulness? It can improve your concentration and leave you ready to tackle the day.
Eat more intuitively
You may be tempted to kick-start your health in a new year and consider eating healthier. There are lots of restrictive diets out there that won’t work and cause issues to your health (such as muscle cramps and diarrhoea), but luckily intuitive eating doesn’t do any of these things.
Online searches for ‘intuitive eating’ have significantly increased over the last year, peaking to 6,600 monthly searches (searches for this query usually average 3,600 each month).
Intuitive eating is an approach to food that goes back to basics, where you trust your body and listen to cues to eat what’s best for you. Embracing your body’s natural signals around food – like mindfulness for your appetite – can help you take a healthier approach to your diet.
If you’re interested in eating more intuitively, really concentrate on your food and avoid any distractions (like the TV or reading a book). Focus on home-made food, so that you’re aware of all the ingredients and listen to what your body is telling you.
Monitor your heart health
According to Google, heart health has been on people’s minds since 2017. And while we all know it’s essential to take care of our hearts, many of us don’t know how to.
Searches for ‘healthy heart rate’, ‘healthy resting heart rate’ and ‘normal resting heart rate’ have continued to increase over the last few years, and experienced their highest search volumes in 2020.
Try using a wearable tracker to bring awareness to your heart rate – an average resting rate is generally between 60 and 100 bpm – plus they monitor both your fitness and sleep as well.
Make some small – but achievable – lifestyle changes, too, such as ditching the salt, exercising regularly and cutting down on your alcohol consumption (as drinking too much alcohol can be harmful to your heart).
Eat more sustainably
Everything we do has a carbon footprint and an impact on the environment. That includes what we eat. Since 2019, searches for more sustainable food and diet have continued to gain momentum. But what exactly is a sustainable diet?
Well it doesn’t have to mean a huge change to your lifestyle, small simple changes can make big differences. Be mindful of your meat consumption and swap for more plant-based foods, like fruits and pulses, try to waste less food by planning and prepping, and always opt for plastic-free or reduced packaging.
Try some at-home baking
From banana bread to chocolate cake, over the last year searches spiked for ‘baking recipes’, as we baked our way through lockdown…
During April 2020, many of us turned to Google for ‘easy baking recipes’, peaking to 74,000 searches. As 2021 brings more restrictions, this popular hobby is likely to continue. Aside from the tasty treats, baking has some surprising benefits for our well-being: it can help us to switch off leaving us feeling relaxed, and it may even boost your mood.
There are ways to make your bakes healthier, too. Swap sugar for sweeteners (these have far fewer calories than sugars), avoid butter icing and experiment with the types of fats you use such as olive oil or avocado in place of butter.
Show your gut some love
You may have noticed that gut health has become a hot topic lately – in fact, average online searches on Google increased to 6,600 monthly searches in 2020 (previously 4,400 in 2019).
Your gut health can affect everything from your mental health, to your risk of long-term conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Every person is different, but if you want to improve your gut health, aim to eat more fibre, avoid highly processed foods and include probiotic foods (like yoghurt).
If you’re thinking of starting to take probiotics (foods that contain good bacteria), you may need to trial different types to find the one that works for you. As a general guide, trial taking probiotics for four weeks, and if they don’t work, try another brand or stop taking them. But remember, it’s important to consult your nutrition professional before making any dietary changes.
Rest up and recharge
If everyday life is leaving you feeling fatigued, it’s important to take some time to relax, both for your mental and physical health. Searches on Google have continued to increase over the last year for those searching ‘relaxation tips’ and taking good care of your body can make it easier to recharge your mind.
Aim to block out time each day to focus on a relaxing activity. From taking a warm bath to reading your favourite book, there’s lots of activities to try.
Don’t worry if you’re not feeling motivated, either. Take time out in the morning to write down small – but achievable – goals for the day. It can help to keep your focus on the day ahead and boost your mood as you tick these goals off your list.
Practising self-care has lots of benefits, such as sleeping better, improving your focus and strengthening your relationships and as we are still navigating a turbulent time, it’s one of the things you can control and take pleasure in.
If you’re looking for support in prioritising your health and wellness, use the advanced search to find a nutrition professional who’s right for you.
Dr Petra Simic is the Clinical Director for Bupa Health Clinics. She is responsible for leading a team of Bupa doctors delivering health assessments and private GP appointments for Bupa across the UK.