LIVESTRONG's 2018 Wellness Trends Guide
At LIVESTRONG, our team is plugged into the latest health, fitness and wellness trends. We're constantly on the lookout for the newest "functional" foods, cutting-edge workouts, beauty breakthroughs and more.
We're looking down the road into 2018. Are you ready to make this the year you're game to try new things? If so, read on for 23 trends that are set to take off.
1. Boxing Classes: Empowering and Explosive Workouts
Sure, boxing classes have been around for some time now, but with the recent spotlight on body positivity, women's empowerment and big-screen female superheroes, we predict more and more women will be taking up these intense, calorie-burning workouts. From Shadowbox in New York to BoxUnion in Santa Monica, California, boutique boxing studios are opening around the country, offering a more aesthetically pleasing alternative to old-fashioned Rocky-style gyms. Many classes use a no-contact style of instruction, so you don't have to worry about taking a hit — or doing the hitting. Unless you want to, in which case, more power to you!
And the benefits of boxing go way beyond the killer cardio and full-body workout. Pounding away on that punching bag can do wonders for your stress and anxiety, trust us. If you don't have a cool boxing gym near you, put on some of your favorite upbeat music and try our 28-Minute Boxing Workout for Sexy Arms and Shoulders.
2. Collagen: Skin Care You Can Eat (and Drink)
Forget injecting collagen. The latest way to get the ingredient's skin-smoothing benefits is by ingesting it. While our bodies naturally create this fibrous protein (which is what gives our skin, bones and muscles their strength, flexibility and structure), collagen production slows down as we age, starting as early as our 20s. Yikes!
Enter a crop of collagen-infused drinks, supplements and powders that all promise to rev up sluggish collagen production. We've consumed it in bone broth, smoothies, soups, gummies, protein bars and smoothie bowls in recent months. Collagen powders and supplements are created from the bones and tendons of cows, pigs, fish and chicken (as in BioCell Collagen), so this is not a trend for vegetarians. If you are pescatarian, look for marine collagen, which is made from fish bones.
Curious about the science behind the trend? We reviewed the studies and recommend looking for a product that's backed by research, such as one containing a version of collagen called Verisol. In fact, in one study of Verisol, participants who downed a scoop of the powder a day saw a 40 percent reduction in crow's-feet wrinkles after 12 weeks.
3. LISS Cardio: 2018 Is All About Slowing Down
As a response to the "go hard or go home" mantra of the past decade, low-intensity steady-state (LISS) cardio is on the rise. Think casual walking or slow jogging that allows one to hold a conversation. LISS allows you to be more mindful of your body, especially if you're a beginner or have an injury. And as we learn more about the costs of going to extremes with our diets and exercise, everyone could benefit from a little slowing down.
An obvious upside to this trend is that it's easy to get started with. As we explain in our article on this feel-good workout, LISS involves elevating your heart rate with activity, but not letting it go beyond 60 percent of your maximum heart rate. Activities like walking, slow jogging or a leisurely ride on the stationary bike are all forms of LISS.
4. Shrubs: An Easy-to-Make Alternative to Kombucha
Gut health became the new "brain health" in 2017, and kombucha got some major love. For 2018, we're predicting that the obsession with probiotics won't be slowing down. In fact, there's already a new gut-healthy drink on the rise: shrubs.
No, you can't find them at your local garden center. The shrubs we're talking about are made by fermenting any fruit or vegetable with sugar and vinegar. The result? A tangy syrup you can sip on its own, mix into a cocktail or add to sparkling water for a cool, kombucha-like beverage. (Here's more info and how to make them.)
If you haven't already, expect to see plenty of shrub-inspired offerings at your local health-food store as well as on the cocktail menus at trendy bars.
5. Cryotherapy: Going Below Freezing to Fight Inflammation
Whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) essentially involves subjecting yourself to temperatures colder than -200 degrees Fahrenheit with the help of liquid nitrogen or cold-air therapy. It may sound crazy, but star athletes like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have been using the subzero treatment for years to accelerate their recovery process, and high-profile celebrities like Jessica Alba, Jennifer Aniston and Mandy Moore also swear by it.
A May 2017 review in Frontiers in Physiology concluded that "the majority of evidence supports effectiveness of whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) in relieving symptomatology of the whole set of inflammatory conditions that could affect an athlete." So if you have pesky muscle pain or inflammation that needs some relief, it may be worth giving cryotherapy a try.
6. Adaptogens: Herbs and Shrooms to Help Bust Stress
Adaptogens are the one trend that everyone in the wellness world has a major crush on right now. Adaptogens are a group of herbs and mushrooms that help protect your body against stress, whether physical, mental or emotional. The benefits and safety of adaptogens are backed by research, with studies showing they lower cortisol (your body's stress hormone) while fighting fatigue and sharpening your focus.
Popular adaptogens include turmeric (which we are huge fans of ), reishi (a mushroom), Asian ginseng, tulsi (also known as holy basil) and ashwagandha (also known as Indian ginseng). Astragalus root has also been shown to have immune-boosting properties, while maca root powder may enhance mental performance.
How can you add adaptogens to your diet? You can find powdered versions at most health-food stores, which you can then can blend into your shakes or smoothies; or you can look for shrubs in teas, pills and extracts. I've been putting Sun Potion's organic Ashwagandha into my smoothies each morning and drinking Traditional Medicinals Organic Tulsi Tea With Ginger most days.
If you're not seeing any affects right away, relax. The benefits can take a couple of weeks to kick in.
7. Cashewgurt Is Taking Over Yogurt Culture
Watch out, skyr! Nut-based, dairy-free yogurts are on the rise for 2018, which has got to be welcome news for the 65 percent of adults who have some form of lactose intolerance, not to mention the growing number of vegans out there. Even people who have no qualms with traditional yogurt might want to get in on this healthy trend. That's because alternative yogurts boast some pretty amazing benefits. The Coconut Cult, a favorite of the L.A. yoga aficionados, ferments 800 billion live and active cultures into each quart of its coconut-based yogurt. Probiotics galore! Of course, all those probiotics don't come cheap: A single jar costs (gulp) $25.
Luckily, more affordable options are out there, such as Forager's Cashewgurt — made from, you guessed it, cashews — costing around $2 per container.
And if you still don't believe this trend is emerging from the fringes, listen to this: Kite Hill (known for its creamy, artisan almond-based yogurt) just received an $18 million investment led by General Mills. And the dairy alternatives market is poised to hit $35 billion by 2024, according to one major market-research firm. If you're looking for another extra-potent way to get probiotics into your system, consider a refrigerated capsule such as Florajen, which contains 20 billion live cultures per capsule.
8. Vertical Fitness: Set Your Fitness Resolutions Sky High
The bravest of us will be taking our fitness to new heights in 2018. If you're game, you can elevate your workout routine by visiting one of the many aerial yoga and circus-inspired fitness studios opening up in major cities around the country. The classes may look all whimsical and fun, but these workouts are no joke: They build core and upper-body strength along with flexibility.
Cirque du Soleil hopefuls can get vertical with an aerial silks class, which will have you climbing and performing tricks on long swaths of fabric. Of course, if you're not quite ready to hang suspended some 10 feet in the air (we don't blame you) you can start with an aerial hammock that's just three feet off the ground. You'll still be able to swing, twirl and spin, all without the risk of vertigo.
9. Activated Charcoal: Detox Your Body Inside and Out
Doctors have been using activated charcoal in emergency rooms for years to treat drug overdoses and poisonings. Why? Because it's ridiculously absorbent, soaking up toxins before they can make their way from your stomach into the rest of your body. Over the past year or so, wellness aficionados have adopted the detoxifying technique, adding activated charcoal to lemonade, protein shakes and even lattes. And now we're seeing it also being added to ice cream, smoothies, pizza crusts and fish and chips!
Does eating activated charcoal have legit benefits? The not-so-secret-anymore ingredient may help reduce gas (and unwanted bloating) and could make your hangover a little less painful, but it's certainly not a cure-all. Plus, it could lead to some unwanted side effects like dehydration. One worry-free way to get in on the trend? Slather it on your skin to help draw out dirt and grime. Just scroll through the #activatedcharcoal hashtag on Instagram, which has more than 125,000 posts, for inspiration.
10. Fanny Packs: A Quirky Trend From the ’80s Makes a Hip Comeback
Tourists aren't the only ones rocking fanny packs these days. Rihanna, Kendall Jenner and Jared Leto are just a few of the celebrities who are making a statement with the throwback accessory. And now fitness junkies are embracing fanny packs too. Because, let's face it, their utility is undeniable.
As polarizing as they can be (second, perhaps, only to scrunchies), you can't argue with the fact that fanny packs are the perfect carryall when you're hiking, rock climbing, running and more. Be on the lookout for sleek styles that are both fashionable and functional.
11. Organic Wines: Better for Your Health and Better Flavor
Even if you faithfully buy organic produce, are you mindful when it comes to your wine? Grapes are on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list of fruits and veggies with the most pesticide residue. Do you want to limit your pesticide exposure in a measurable way? How many servings of grapes do you eat per week? And how many glasses of wine do you drink each week? If you're not buying organic wine, you are drinking the juice of fermented conventional grapes. And that means those pesticides on the skins of the grapes are ending up in your glass.
What's more, organic wine may also taste better. According to research from the University of California, Los Angeles, wines made from certified organic grapes scored an average of 4.1 points higher than nonorganic wines in reviews.
Where can you find organic wines? Ampelos Cellars in Lompoc, California was the first in the U.S. to be certified organic, biodynamic and sustainable.
12. Smart Jewelry: Luxe Fitness Trackers
Fitness trackers are great for helping you to stay motivated and accountable. But up until now, most makers have focused more on functionality and less on fashion. And as discreet as those slim wristbands may try to be, some of us just can't get on board with the look — at least not all day, every day.
Fortunately, the latest wearable tech is a little more on trend. From the rose gold Motiv ring to the Bellabeat leaf-shaped necklace and the Misfit Swarovski Activity Crystal, these fitness trackers double as gorgeous jewelry. Raise your hand if you're ready for this trend to take off, because we know we are.
13. Alkaline Water: Can H2O With a Higher pH Boost Your Health?
We all know that drinking plenty of water is good for your health: It boosts your energy levels, helps with digestion, flushes out toxins and keeps your skin hydrated and glowing. Now, though, alternative health experts claim that you can enjoy all those benefits and more with alkaline water. According to alkaline advocates, the high-pH water can also help with fertility issues and prevent chronic diseases like cancer. Not quite convinced (i.e., we were highly skeptical), we took a closer look at the research and the bottom line: Scientists have yet to publish a peer-reviewed study that supports claims that alkaline water can help to heal chronic diseases.
Still, any trend that gets people more excited about staying hydrated can't be all bad. If you're curious about alkaline water (some people also swear by the taste), there are plenty of bottled versions to try, including Waikea, Iceland Spring and Essentia. Just remember: Everything in moderation — even water.
14. Keto Is Cool (Again!)
Yup, we all know that the book "The South Beach Diet" (with its ketogenic phase one) was a best-seller in 2003. And, yes, the low-carb, ketogenic Atkins Diet was the most popular diet of 2004. And the similar Dukan Diet was the eating plan Kate Middleton used to get fabulously lean before her 2011 wedding to Prince William. But now keto is having a resurgence, with fitness fanatics adopting it as their full-fat, high-protein, low-sugar intuitive eating style. And new brands like Mark Sisson's Primal Kitchen (which creates full-fat avocado-oil mayo and keto salad dressings) and Bear Squeeze (which has created a keto meal shake) are cashing in on the trend. It's no coincidence that Sisson's book, "The Keto Reset Diet," just came out! Celebrity nutritionists like Kelly LeVeque and Instagrammers like Jordan Younger of the Balanced Blonde are also singing keto's praises.
15. Edible Glitter: So You Can Shine Inside and Out
Glittery cappuccinos, bagels and cakes are already on the scene. So it's only a matter of time before creative minds start using edible glitter to brighten up boring greens. You gotta do what you gotta do to eat your five servings of veggies a day.
But you might be wondering, "Is glitter actually safe to eat?" Like your most dramatic friend's Facebook status: It's complicated. Some glitters and dusts are made specifically for use in foods. These products are required to have an ingredient label on them and typically include things like sugar, acacia (a natural gum), maltodextrin, cornstarch and color additives. The FDA warns you to avoid glitters that are simply labeled "nontoxic" or "for decorative use only" because (hello!) those are not for eating. Not to mention that actual glitter is a microplastic, so it's really bad for the environment.
16. Bikepacking: An Affordable Way to Go Off the Beaten Path
If you're in the know with cycling culture, you've probably seen this trend coming. Bikepacking is exactly what it sounds like. People are grabbing their mountain bikes, strapping on some camping gear and heading out. But the rules here are different than with your average bike tour: It's all about taking your adventure "off-road" to desert hiking trails, wilderness access roads and other backcountry locales. With a younger generation looking for cheaper ways to explore, bikepacking will no doubt continue to pick up steam in 2018. Are you ready to go off the map?
17. Organic Coffee: A Pesticide-Free Cuppa
We can all agree that coffee never goes out of style. In fact, after analyzing the past four years of data from millions of people who use LIVESTRONG's MyPlate app for iPhone and Android to track their daily calories, we found that it's our users' No. 1 most-tracked food. And, fun fact: Coffee is the main source of antioxidants in the American diet, according to researchers at University of Scranton.
Not-so-fun fact: Coffee is also one of the most heavily sprayed crops in the world, which means you're likely taking your morning java with with a splash of pesticide (and herbicide and fungicide). Fortunately, coffee connoisseurs have started focusing on the origins of their brew. The first step? Seeking out coffee that's USDA-certified organic. It's also helpful to consider where your coffee beans are grown. For example, pesticides that are banned in the U.S. and EU can still be used in Brazil. For more coffee-sleuthing tips, check out our in-depth report on all the labels to look for and questions to ask your barista.
18. One-Bowl Meals: Simplify Your Lunches
Hawaiian poke bowls hit the mainland in a huge way this past year, helping to revolutionize the way that people view a balanced meal. Before that, we were dazzled by breakfast-time Abundance Bowls, lunchtime Buddha Bowls and how tasty, healthy and photographic acai bowls are (just ask the people responsible for the 830,000 posts on Instagram's #acaibowl page). We predict 2018 will bring an onslaught of new and different creative one-bowl meal offerings that you can customize with your favorite healthy foods.
One of the best things about the bowl trend is that you can also easily whip up your own versions at home. If you're ready to get creative with superfoods like teff, salmon and flaxseed, check out our guide on how to build a balanced protein bowl for any meal. Another way to simplify your meals, is to try a meal kit delivery service such as Home Chef.
19. The Seafood Watch App: Eat the Safest Seafood
Generally, we recommend staying off our phones while dining out, but this is one case where we make an important exception. How else would you know that the bluefin tuna you're about to order has been overfished to the point that it may soon be considered an endangered species? Or that the Atlantic salmon you're having seconds of came from a farm with practices that contribute to ocean pollution? To find safe and ocean-friendly alternatives, simply download the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch App or visit their website.
A few of the best options to go with are farmed arctic char, clams, mussels and oysters. Going with Monterey Bay Aquarium's suggestions can also help you to avoid fish that are high in mercury and other contaminants. We all need to be asking questions about our seafood, including where it comes from and how it's farmed or caught, which can have a huge impact on our oceans and whether or not we'll even have the option of ordering a particular fish in the future.
20. The Impossible Burger Becomes Possible and Popular
The faux-meat market is poised to hit $6 billion by 2020, according to market-research experts. And with the number of vegans growing in America, it makes sense that meatless burgers are about to become a standard option at restaurants and chains. In fact, both McDonald's and TGI Fridays are currently testing vegan options.
One animal-free patty you can test for yourself is the Impossible Burger. In March 2017, the Impossible Burger was only available in eight U.S. restaurants. Now you'll find it at 93 spots nationwide, including the Umami Burger chain.
Scientists at Impossible Foods created the burger using an iron-rich compound called heme, extracted from soy plants. Heme is also found in meat, and it's what gives the Impossible Burger its authentic color and taste. Another secret ingredient? Flakes of coconut oil that sizzle like fat when the burger is grilled. Nutritionally, this alternative is on par with real meat patties, coming in at 220 calories, 13 grams of fat and 21 grams of protein per three ounces. The Impossible Burger might just convince committed meat eaters to choose this more eco-friendly and mouthwateringly delicious alternative. LIVESTRONG's team has tried the plant-based patty and can attest that the texture and flavor are spot on.
21. Fast Casual Chain Eateries Inspired by the Dirty Dozen
From Flower Child to Sweetgreen, trendy restaurants are committing to selling only organic versions of foods from the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list of foods with the highest amount of pesticide residue, making clean, pesticide-free food more accessible. The foods that made 2017's list are hot peppers, potatoes, sweet bell peppers, tomatoes, celery, grapes, cherries, pears, peaches, apples, nectarines, spinach and strawberries.
But going organic doesn't just benefit the consumer. Trends show that restaurants can make a lot of money by tapping into this market. Organic food sales in the U.S. hit an all-time high in 2016, coming in at a whopping $43 billion, which is up 8.4 percent from the previous year.
22. Cheese as a Superfood: Our Time Has Come!
Best year ever! For cheese lovers, anyway. In 2017, scientists gave us some awesome news about cheese. We wrote an article covering a study that officially deems Emmental (aka Swiss) cheese as a nutrient-dense superfood. Why? Because it contains a bacteria — propionibacterium freudenreichii, to be exact — that can reduce inflammation, helping to lower the risk of certain chronic diseases and promote longevity.
Another study that we reported on found that munching down on some aged cheddar can also help you to live longer and boost heart health. And yet another study found that regular-fat cheese doesn't raise your levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) like many believe, but actually raises your levels of the good kind (HDL).
We look forward to a New Year in which science resolves to give us more reasons to keep enjoying our cheese.
23. Pasta Alternatives: Veggie Noodles Add Color and Nutrition to Your Meal
Yes, pasta can be a total calorie bomb, but that doesn't mean we're about to stop eating it. So people are finding ways to have their pasta and a trim waist too, by turning to creative alternatives like zucchini noodles (aka zoodles) and hearts of palm. These low-calorie swaps mimic the texture of pasta without leaving you feeling bloated, and they have essential nutrients like potassium and riboflavin, which helps to maintain a healthy metabolism. And did we mention that they look pretty?
So just how many calories are you saving with these swaps? One cup of zoodles comes in at 35 calories (compared to 220 calories in a cup of cooked spaghetti), while a cup of hearts of palm contains 41 calories. And gluten-free shirataki noodles, a traditional Japanese food made from konjac yams, weighs in at a mere 23 calories per cup. We predict dishes featuring these noodle alternatives will be crowding your Instagram feeds in the near future. Get ready to eat them up!
About the Author
JESS BARRON is VP & GM for LIVESTRONG.COM, a leading healthy lifestyle website with over 29 million unique monthly viewers. In addition to LIVESTRONG, her writing has appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune and MyDomaine. Jess has appeared on MSNBC and ABC News and has been a keynote speaker at Health Further and a panelist at Create & Cultivate and Digital Hollywood. Follow Jess on Instagram at @jessbeegood and Twitter too!