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2018’s Health Trends

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Now that we’re way past January, those gym trips might be becoming a little less regular and old habits could be slipping back into place. Staying fit and healthy can be a constant battle for many, and there are always new ideas and techniques doing the rounds that are designed to try and make looking and feeling good easier than it really is.

Amongst the fad diets and wonder pills however there are really useful health tips that became popular in 2017, with some still popular thanks to their staying power. From giving up meat to cutting carbs, 2017 was the year of the detox, with many diets focussing on removing certain items from our diets rather than trying to add new things in. 2018 however may be the year of the add-on, with health food companies and supermarkets ready to once again cash in on the latest health crazes.

Going meat free

Vegetarians and Vegans were met with derision for a long time. For many, the thought of not eating basic meats like chicken and beef was just too much to fathom, and that somehow not eating meat was less healthy than being a carnivore. January 2018 was the tipping point for the veggie revolution however, with plenty of restaurants, cooking shows and supermarkets pushing vegetarianism. The Meat Free Monday campaign has gone from strength to strength, with a mixture of animal welfare and health supporters championing a single day dedicated to a vegetarian meal. From Paul McCartney to Moby, the meat free lifestyle is becoming more of an image thing than anything else.

With health benefits that include lower cholesterol, less risk of disease and weight-loss properties associated with green vegetables, vegetarians are slowly but surely shaking the whole ‘silly idea’ treatment they were getting from the general public, and now the vegetarian menu is getting a whole lot better. Andwith past events like the horsemeat scandal, as well as repeated warnings about processed meat containing carcinogens, it’s easy to see this big change sticking around longer than the others.

Brain health

2017 was definitely the year where mental health made the headlines, with more pressure on medical professionals, organisations as well as the general public for more support and recognition when it comes to the classification of mental illness. If 2017 was the year Mental Health made it into the mainstream, then 2018 will hopefully be the year we do something about it.

As well as the fantastic support offered by the NHS, there are actually a few ways to combat not only conditions like depression, anxiety and stress, but also degenerative brain diseases like Dementia. Eating the right foods is the best starting point, with several normal everyday foods packed full of the proteins that promote healthy brain activity and growth. Although the idea that simple puzzles and games can help to prevent diseases like Parkinson’s and Dementia have been debunked, there is still plenty of evidence to suggest that hobbies that challenge the brain go a long way to promote good mental health. Social hobbies are infinitely better than solo pursuits, and team sports are said to be the best for promoting general happiness and combatting depression and anxiety.

If running around playing a sport sounds miserable to you, then you’ll be pleased to hear that non-active games also promote improved mental health. Poker is one game that requires a good mixture of social interaction, brainpower and even comes in with a built-in reward system when you win! Like any other sport or pursuit however, poker requires a strict diet and a disciplined approach, the most successful players dedicate a lot of their time to the game, but when they achieve success, it makes it all worth it.

High Intensity Training and Raising Pulses

The entire gym industry is built around two types of people. Those who relish the thought of beating their new record, or lifting more weight than they did over the last 3 days in a row that they went to the gym, and those who drag themselves there because they’re overweight. Staying fit is either a hobby or a hassle, and with membership figures of only 9.7 million of the UK’s estimated adult population of 53 million, it’s easy to see that many of us simply can’t be bothered.

Luckily, new trends for 2018 are proving that a huge slog in the gym doesn’t always have to be the answer. As part of the BBC’s series of programmes on health and fitness, participants were asked to simply raise their pulse several times a day, by either going for a brisk walk, climbing up some stairs or doing some light exercises or stretches. The results happened quickly, and led to several instances of weight loss and lower blood pressure.

Short, sharp shocks to the body seem to be the best method of training, which is why we’re seeing more focus on Hight Intensity Training, or HIT. HIT involves normal gym exercises like running, cycling, weightlifting and even skipping and boxing, but instead of a 10 minute workout or several sets, the aim is to go at maximum intensity for short bursts of up to 30 seconds. Joe Wicks, now a celebrity chef and fitness instructor, has built his programme around 15 minute workouts and sometimes less, aiming to allow time-poor people to still get enough activity in on a daily basis. This makes the body work harder too, burning more calories and allowing more activity to be squeezed into short periods of time. Although not a new concept, this could be the ideal solution for people short on time, and is also a great way to beat the belly at work. Expect a lot of stair climbers and lunchtime walkers in the office throughout the year.

Alongside the fads that come and go, like health juices and the questionable ‘Yogalates’ (a mixture of Yoga and Pilates, as if either weren’t already good enough), it seems that the best health trends are the ones that aren’t actually that new at all. A balanced diet, regular intense workouts and ensuring plenty of social interaction that challenges the brain are all the simple keys to a happier, healthier life.

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