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25 Jan 2018
Magic mushrooms, transformative travel, wellness kitchens: GWS releases ‘Eight Wellness Trends for 2018’

Experts from the Global Wellness Summit have identified eight future directions in wellness in a new report, ‘Eight Wellness Trends for 2018’.

The report is based on the insight of the more than 600 delegates from more than 40 countries who attended the Global Wellness Summit in October, as well as the perspectives of economists, medical and wellness professionals, academics, and leaders across all sectors of the wellness industry.

“No other trends report is based on the perspectives of so many wellness experts,” said Susie Ellis, GWS chair CEO. “And every one of this year’s trends pushes the health and wellness envelope in unexpected ways.”

The eight trends highlighted in the report are:

1. Mushrooms Emerge from Underground
The GWS suggests that in 2018, more people will explore the unique medicine that mushrooms provide to our brains and bodies.

“Thanks to a surge in rather mind-blowing medical evidence, demonstrating that they reset the brain and shake the ‘snow globe’ on rigid neural patterns, magic mushrooms will emerge from the underground, and could prove better than existing treatments for anxiety, depression and addiction,” the report said.

The GWS also pointed to studies such as tech investor Peter Thiel’s US$20m 2018 European psilocybin trial, as well as to legalisation movements for magic mushrooms in several US states and a trend of microdosing psilocybin as a brain booster.

“This magic mushroom moment bears resemblance to early days in the cannabis wellness trend,” the report said. “Think how lightning-fast attitudes and laws changed there.”

The GWS is also looking at evidence many “regular” mushrooms are magical for health, particularly as stress and inflammation fighters.

“Playing a starring role in Asia’s centuries-old food-as-medicine philosophy, now the functional mushroom trend is becoming a global reality,” the report said. “We’ll see mushrooms – especially “adaptogenic” varietals like reishi, cordyceps, chaga – get infused in everything imaginable: powders, lattes, cocoas, chocolate, broths, oils and teas. And with many mushrooms boasting unique skin-boosting powers, mushroom-infused products will keep invading the beauty aisles.”

2. A New Era of Transformative Wellness Travel
The GWS points to ‘transformational travel’ as the 2018 buzzword, described as “travel that challenges people on a deeply personal level, creating emotion through the powerful medium of storytelling."

“We predict more wellness destinations will use the power of wellness circuits and epic storylines to create a ‘necklace’ of linked wellness experiences rather than the disconnected ‘beads’ of programming, amenities, and itineraries,” the report said.

Destinations like Six Senses Bhutan, where guests journey across five lodges, or Iceland’s Red Mountain Resort, where spa-goers follow the saga of an ancient Icelandic hero are examples of this kind of travel.

“Spa experiences will be reimagined as active, long, nature-roaming journeys – a circuit of hiking, meditation, treatments, and more,” the report said. “More performance, music and art – ‘story’ immersion – will get served up with wellness. The future for wellness travel will be engaging people’s emotions as much as evidence-based healing.”

3. Reframing the First 1,000 Days
Preconception and paternity will enter the health equation, the GWS said.

“We have not recognized that the health and lifestyle choices of both parents during the preconception period – including emotional wellness – can impact their child’s health for a lifetime,” the report said. “This new trend challenges us to look before the traditional 1,000 days of pregnancy and early childhood, and puts sharp focus on the role of epigenetics, the study of how gene expression changes with environmental and lifestyle factors, and that can be inherited. It also examines the father’s role in creating a supportive and healthy environment during pregnancy and after birth.”

The GWS also suggests that wellness treatments and techniques – such as yoga, massage, and mindfulness – will be the first choice to treat babies and children suffering from injury, sleeplessness or pain.

4. The Wellness Kitchen
With more people today wanting to eat healthy, organic food, a new model of “Wellness Kitchen” will store and showcase fresh fruits and vegetables as opposed to processed foods, and new designs and technology will celebrate uncluttered, well-ventilated spaces that are as encouraging of socialising as they are of preparing healthy food, the GWS said.

In this new model, refrigerators will be reimagined to properly store and transparently display fresh fruits and vegetables, and kitchens will have space for gardens and sprouting. Noisy appliances will be a thing of the past. Composting delivery systems and particulate and oxygen sensors will be standard features. And there will be more emphasis on healthy building materials. Because just like the food it contains, the Wellness Kitchen doesn’t merely feed – it nourishes.

5. Getting our “Clean Air Act” Together
As the gravity of toxic air becomes clearer – and disagreements over standards get left on the table by governments – the GWS suggests that we will see people owning their own “clean air acts.”

This can mean filling homes and offices with plants, donning chic air pollution masks, actively monitoring indoor air quality using new sensors and apps, investing in devices that purify the air, adopting pollution-fighting beauty regimes, embracing salt therapy and breathwork training, or choosing “lung-cleansing” travel destinations.

“Significantly, this trend will put more pressure on businesses and governments to take action against the ultra-fine particulates that are dirtying our air,” the report said.

The Spa Handbook also identified personal pollution sensors as one of its 2017-2018 Spa Foresight Trends.

6. Extreme Wellness
Hacking our way to better brains, bodies and overall wellbeing is on the rise, with a surge in brain-optimising nootropics and even private brain optimisation clubs, the report said.

“An age of hyper-personalised, deep-view health and wellness, thanks to tests combining DNA, epigenetic and microbiome testing is on the horizon,” the report said. “In the name of physical and mental wellness, humans are re-wiring themselves to achieve the once impossible.”

The Spa Handbook also identified nootropics as one of its 2017-2018 Spa Foresight Trends.

7. Wellness Meets Happiness
The wellness world needs to put a greater focus on happiness generally – and on driving social connection and technology disconnection specifically, the GWS said.

It pointed to a rise in happiness science, with The World Happiness Report introduced at the UN and the Gallup-Sharecare Well-being Index, which take a global pulse on people’s happiness, as well as mounting evidence that smartphones and social media are creating a rise in depression, anxiety, suicide, addiction and extreme body issues.

“With loneliness as big a killer as smoking, governments will take action, like the UK recently appointing a Minister of Loneliness,” the report said. “In the wellness space, a massive trend is new co-working, co-living and social spaces laser-focused on building well communities in our age of digital isolation and remote work.”

The GWS also suggested that 2018 will be a watershed backlash year against big tech, with more Silicon Valley engineers speaking out – and more medical evidence coming to light – about the effects that 24/7 digital/social media connection has on our brains and happiness.

“In wellness travel, off-the-grid and no WiFi destinations focused on contemplative community and nature will be the most sought after, and explicitly happiness-focused (or joy-for-joy’s sake) wellness approaches will rise.”

The report also suggested that eating for happiness – with menus packed with serotonin-boosting foods like tuna, salmon, nuts, seeds, bananas, green tea, dark chocolate, spinach, blueberries and blackberries – and “happy fitness” that returns exercise to childlike play, laughter yoga and smile asana, will also be on the rise.

8. A New Feminist Wellness
From a surge in women-only, wellness-infused clubs and co-working spaces – to a storm of FemTech “solving” for women’s bodies, the GWS sees a new feminist wellness on the horizon.

The report said: “2017 was a year of attacks on, and fighting back, by women: The US presidential administration threatening women’s rights, the 5-million-strong global Women’s March, Harvey Weinstein, MeToo, the exposure of the Silicon Valley boys club. #Resist and #thefutureisfemale became global movements, and ‘feminism’ was rightly named the word of the year. Of course, the reality is that the woman-dominated wellness world has been steadily solving for women’s bodies and lives for years, creating, in effect, a supplemental, woman-focused healthcare system. With this confluence of forces, we predict new intersections between women’s empowerment, feminism and wellness in 2018.”

This will include more women-only clubs, co-working spaces, and collectives: where women work, network, empower each other, unwind and learn – with wellness on tap, as well as more wellness travel aimed at women’s empowerment, from all-women’s adventure travel to “painmoons” – wellness retreats providing women emotional healing after divorce, breakups, grief, anger and loss of sexual happiness.

“This fourth wave of feminism is galvanising this rush of for-women, by-women wellness,” the report said. “But no matter the future political climate, this trend comes down to one fact: the sheer growth in women’s spending power, because economists agree – the global economic future is female.”

The Spa Handbook also identified menopause as one of its 2017-2018 Spa Foresight Trends.

To read the GWS' full report, click here.


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20 Mar 2019
Irene Forte joins GWS advisory board
The Global Wellness Summit (GWS) has appointed Irene Forte to its advisory board.
05 Mar 2019
Jeremy McCarthy to receive 2019 ISPA Visionary Award
The International SPA Association (ISPA) will present the 2019 ISPA Visionary Award to Jeremy McCarthy, director of spa & wellness for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group at the ISPA Conference & Expo taking place at The Venetian in Las Vegas from 11-13 September, 2019.
05 Mar 2019
Fonteverde takes top honours at World Spa & Wellness Awards
The winners of the World Spa & Wellness Awards were announced at a gala dinner last week during the World Spa & Wellness Conference in London.
27 Feb 2019
Mick Ebeling to receive Alex Szekely Humanitarian Award
The International SPA Association (ISPA) has announced philanthropist and changemaker Mick Ebeling will be the closing keynote speaker at the 2019 ISPA Conference & Expo, taking place 11-13 September 2019 at The Venetian Resort & Spa in Las Vegas.
26 Feb 2019
Sweat 2019: boutique fitness sector still thriving and nowhere near 'breaking point'
The current boutique fitness boom is nowhere near reaching a 'breaking point'.
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FIT Summit launched to 'connect Asia’s fitness and wellness industry'
A new event – marketed as the first major business gathering for Asia's health, fitness and wellness industry – will be held next month.
25 Feb 2019
ukactive expands annual awards – adds Active Training Awards to schedule
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25 Feb 2019
Beijing 2022 organisers reveal outline of legacy plan
The organising committee for the Beijing 2022 Olympics has outlined its legacy plans for the Games.
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