Putting an end to 2020 feels cathartic. This year has put an unprecedented strain on our lives, affecting us in ways big and small—in ways obvious and in ways we likely haven’t even started to understand. Yes, 2020 has transformed us. And with the dawn of 2021 visible, we understand that our journey is not done. We still have challenges ahead. We are still learning and growing.
And when we look at the year ahead in the well-being space, what we see reflects that. We are pushing to make a healthier society—through things like metabolic health or accessibility to fresh, whole foods. We are realising that when we let nature do what it’s supposed to do, we are better for it: from the tiny, microscopic world of our skin microbiome to the planet itself. And we are coming together, to find innovative fixes to systems or mindsets that do not serve us: from unrealistic parenting standards to the way we’ve underprioritised mental health.
And all of these things, and more, emerged because of this year. It’s been a hard one, but let’s do our best to make sure that we are better because of it.
1. Metabolic health becomes critical when we discuss immunity.
Science has shown us in real time that metabolic health and immune strength aren’t just linked: They’re critically intertwined. However, 88% of Americans are metabolically unhealthy—meaning if we want to be healthier as a community, this needs to become one of our utmost priorities.
2. Tending to mental health is top of mind.
After a taxing year of pandemic-exacerbated mental health challenges, we know prioritizing emotional well-being is critical. Now, more than ever, we know that mental health care practices should make their way into our regular routines—much like exercise. Consider it mental fitness.
3. Uncovering the new science of our skin microbiome.
We have long known that our skin is home to a diverse collection of microflora. But just how important is it in relation to our skin and overall health? Well, that’s where the science and research are simply taking off. These new developments are bringing to light just how vital our skin barrier function is: It’s our body’s first line of defense, and it’s time we start treating it like one.
4. The fight for food security.
In light of the pandemic, nutrition and metabolic health are more important than ever. However, millions of people in the U.S., particularly BIPOC communities, lack access to nutritious food—and the push for food security faced further setbacks amid the year’s many challenges. Individuals, companies, and the government will continue the vital work of closing the nutrition-disparity gap.
5. To heal the planet, we put the power back into nature’s hands.
At the start of our first wave of quarantine, we watched our environment enjoy a much-needed break. Air quality improved, biodiversity flourished, and natural soundscapes returned. The relief was temporary but its lesson eternal: Thanks to its complex web of microscopic life, nature has the innate capacity to restore itself. Looking forward, we’re predicting that the next wave of environmentalism will be about putting more power back into nature’s hands.
6. Micro-tracking takes over metrics.
In the fitness market, we saw a major uptick in new health micro-tracking features across wearable brands (think pulse oximetry, heart rate variability, skin temperature, glucose monitoring, body composition, and more). With heightened interest in health monitoring, we’re predicting this tech boom will only continue to grow in 2021 and beyond.
7. How COVID changed child care.
For so long, parents have been trapped on an ever-climbing escalator of parenting standards. But when the world stopped—and parents became teachers, sole caregivers, playmates, and more overnight—priorities transformed in a massive way. Now, it appears many of these changes will define child-rearing going forward.
8. Science will continue to explore assisted psychedelics.
Indigenous people have been incorporating psychedelic plant medicines into healing and ceremony for generations. More recently, the scientific community started digging into the benefits and risks of psychedelic-assisted therapy, and we expect to see this age-old practice gain new relevance in modern medicine.
9. Medical freedom & the next phase of the pandemic.
With vaccine candidates nearing federal clearance, there’s a sliver of hope for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. With that optimism, though, many more challenges remain ahead. What happens if you aren’t so sure about getting the vaccine when it is your time in line? We’re venturing into COVID’s next chapter—where the decision to get vaccinated (or not) will affect our everyday lives.
10. Why tinned fish is having a surprising comeback.
When we think of eating and consuming sustainably, perhaps canned fish doesn’t come to the top of one’s mind. It should. People are wising up to the briny delights of smaller tinned fish and seafood like mackerel, clams, mussels, sardines, and anchovies, which is good news for the ocean ecosystem: Chowing down on smaller fish can relieve pressure on larger and more threatened species.