2024's top health and wellness trends
Holland and Barrett's global product director April Preston shares her top health and wellness trends for 2024 including sleep hygiene innovations and how to boost energy naturally
Want to keep up to date with the latest health and wellness trends? April Preston, global product director at Holland and Barrett, is an expert in using customer and trend data to predict the next big thing. April was a guest on the olive podcast where she shared her top health and wellness insights for 2024 including innovations to help sleep hygiene, healthspan vs lifespan and natural ways to boost energy. Here we pick out some highlights.
Listen to our interview with April on the olive podcast here:
2024's top health and wellness trends
More people are realising that sugary, sweetened drinks have a negative impact on our health and the drinks industry is responding with innovations. Although simple plain water is the cheapest way to keep hydrated, some people struggle to drink this in sufficient quantities, so April recommends finding something that hydrates you without the bad effects of sugar.
Kombucha – which has already been a big trend over the last few years – is evolving as it gains extra benefits and functionality. Already low in calories and sugar, make sure to look out for the ones with live bacteria which are great for gut health and as a result, general health. Make your own kombucha using our recipe or check out our round-up of the best kombuchas to buy.
The market is inundated with waters with additional benefits – think added collagen, electrolytes and vitamins. Hydration is key to all basic human functions, and for some people these boosted alternatives may serve them better if they're not able to drink plain water alone.
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For many people, getting a good night's sleep is the Holy Grail, but it's easier said than done. April sees a huge amount happening in the tech industry around the monitoring of sleep quality from home. As a result, the trends we're likely to see emerging will be around creating calming evening rituals to help get your night's rest off to the best start.
There's also greater understanding of the knock-on impact of sleep deprivation on our health, as well as how our devices – and the blue light they emit – can get in the way of a restful night of sleep. Adaptogens, a type of plant that helps our bodies adapt to stress, can help us to feel more calm at bedtime. Ashwagandha (an adaptogen) as well as magnesium can both help with improved sleep. April recommends looking out for KSM 66 if you're going to take ashwagandha, which takes the full spectrum of active ingredients and distills it down into its most potent form.
Energy, but not as we know it
Here to save us from a poor night's sleep, another trend to emerge for 2024 is caffeine, but in a rather different form to our well-loved cuppa. As opposed to a hot coffee, there are chewable bars and mints available that help to boost energy throughout the day. Nootropics, which increase blood flow to the brain, support focus and enhance cognitive performance, may be another one to lean on after a bad night's sleep. Nootropics include ginkgo biloba and ginseng and have been grown for thousands of years for a variety of uses. April says to look out for Zynamite, made from mango leaf extract and available in supplement form, as another energy-boosting quick fix for that mid-afternoon slump.
Check out our list of foods that can help boost your energy here.
Health and wellness is so different for everyone, and emergences in technology are allowing consumers to tailor health to their personal needs. April believes that the biggest macro trend to emerge over the next year will be really understanding ourselves as individuals, what works, and then being able to get advice or find products that are right for you. As opposed to the quick-fix of a caffeine pill, for example, these growing technologies aim to get to the root of the cause in terms of understanding the complexities of our bodies.
The Oura Ring, a type of wearable technology for your finger, has greater functionality than a smart watch, making it possible to track the quality of your sleep far more accurately. In a similar vein, ZOE analyses the body's unique gut, blood fat and blood sugar responses. Rather than looking for universal cures or rules to follow, the future of health is going to become highly personalised as these technologies become more readily accessible and affordable.
Although of course the importance of our 5-a-day still stands, eating a diversity of plants is increasingly understood to be just as crucial. April highlights that an emerging trend for 2024 will be 'nutrient cramming'. That's to say, getting the most nutrients out of our calories. One way is through eating a variety of vegetables, while another is making sure that a dish is packed with protein (check out our high-protein meals here).
By consequence, we'll be less inclined to eat sugar as well as processed foods with 'empty' calories. It will also help to create a more positive attitude to food and eating; as opposed to looking at a plate of food and thinking about what to cut out, the focus instead will be on what can be added in to boost its nutritional benefit. Find out how to eat 30 plants a week.
Healthspan vs lifespan
April believes ‘healthspan’ is a new take on an age-old problem. While lifespan is about living a long life, healthspan instead focuses on quality years of life. Most of us die from long, drawn-out conditions which are linked to the 'four horsemen of medicine' – coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer or Alzheimer's, which can develop early on in life and have a profound impact on our quality of life in the later years.
Men, for example, live on average in 16 years of poor health before they die, whereas for women it is 19 years, often due to one of those four diseases. Many of these conditions can be avoided through preventative measures, and it's never too late to start prioritising our health.
The bedrocks to good health are founded on movement and exercise, sleeping well, hydration, good diet and mental health – and they're all interlinked. If you can work on any of those, it will have a positive impact on the others.