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Our health and wellness predictions for 2018

What's on our radar for the new year

Close up of red lentils and kale

Last year, Medcan’s leadership and medical teams were asked to forecast which health and wellness topics would materialize in 2017. They suggested we’d be prescribed exercise, see the benefits of meditation for sleep, and choose adventure travel over sip-and-sun vacations. Below are the predictions for 2018. 

Nutrition: Plant protein popularity will continue to soar in 2018.

“2017 was a good year for plant protein, and expect 2018 to be even kinder. A growing number of consumers wanting to eat less animal protein for health reasons, combined with environmental concerns, are fueling the growth of plant protein foods. From Ripple’s plant-based milks (made from yellow peas) to Catelli Protein pasta (made from fava beans) to Beyond Meat’s vegan burgers, an increasing number of protein-rich plant foods are turning up on grocery store shelves.

“Diets that include more plants are tied to protection from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and certain cancers.  Plant foods such a beans and lentils, edamame, tofu, nuts and seeds deliver protein along with fibre, vitamins, minerals and countless phytochemicals.

“My advice: Aim to include at least five plant-based meals (breakfast, lunch and/or dinner) in your diet each week.” — Leslie Beck, RD, Director, Food and Nutrition at Medcan

Fitness: Resistance training gets rebranded.

“There have been many fads in terms of fitness — aerobics of the 80s, long distance running’s resurgence in the 90s, yoga and Crossfit early 2000s — but culturally we are moving more towards an understanding of fitness of being  multidimensional, and that’s where resistance training’s verstality comes in. I think we’ll see more people beginning to understand that weights are more than just bodybuilding. When applied effectively, it does the best job at improving strength. We’ve always known this but now we understand  its relation to our mobility, endurance, bone density, posture, and  to offset neurological decline. I’d also predict the continued rise in women embracing weights. While I’m no cultural commentator,  I’ve noticed a greater appreciation for strength in women — women athletes, female MMA fighters and even models and celebrities – who have been applauded for their  “strong is the new beautiful” message. It’s just a general impression I get and personally it’s something I’m excited to encourage in my daughter as she grows.” — Alan Kerr-Wilson, personal trainer

Sleep: The next vital sign, and a focus on value-based care.

“Not long ago Type A’s bragged about how little sleep they got. Today’s research shows that sleep is a weapon for performance and productivity. An emerging area of focus is on defining and supporting precision sleep. I look forward to the time when I can prescribe sleep so it’s individualized instead of a boilerplate prescription. If we can figure out how many people in your workplace aren’t getting proper sleep, we can offer right interventions. This is on my radar and I’m energized about the science of sleep.

“I’m also thinking about how patients will define ‘value-based care’.  It’s a hot item for payors and healthcare institutions to try to control costs and improve health outcomes.  But, do we really know what patients want or what is the best way to communicate with them?  Perhaps 2018 will be the year where patients will demand more customized health care delivery models (i.e. treat me as a person not a number) versus symptom-based medicine (i.e. sickness-based care).

“I think we’ll also see an increase in the discussions on the role of inflammation and the immune system to keep diseases quiet  and the promise of algorithms. Are we relying too much on the promise of machine learning for front-line clinical care, running the risk of physicians losing their abilities to do physical examinations and patient-focused decision making?  What happened to a culture of scientific inquiry?” — Dr. James Aw, Chief Medical Officer

Digital health: The patient becomes the master of their own health.

“I think the most exciting thing in medicine in 2018 is the advancement of digital health solutions that empower the patient to make choices that affect health outcomes. From progress in virtual medicine to improvements in medical-grade wearable technology, we’ll see personalized medicine scaled up and increase delivery capabilities.   The client-facing platforms of electronic records stimulates patient engagement, which means patients are more involved in their health. Patients now have access to their numbers, records and other medical data, and through virtual solutions they can easily consult a physician on the results they now have easier access to. Through data and accessible expertise, the patient has a whole new platform to become masters in their own health .” — Dr. Jason Abrams, Associate Medical Director

Workplace wellness: Employees will choose virtual health, employers will track program effectiveness.

“In the workplace, we will see improved workforce monitoring and  reporting tools, so employers are able to monitor the progress of their new employee health programs. This aligns with a growing employee demand for digital solutions and virtual health to meet their diverse needs from behaviour change to psychology sessions to everyday health concerns.” — Sabrina Sdao, Director, Product Development (B2B)

Heart health: We’ll go back to basics to prevent cardiovascular disease.

“I’m excited about people understanding risks for heart disease and working on lifestyle changes to reduce that risk. In 2018 we are going back to basics to prevent that first heart attack. I’m also excited about newer treatment options for those patients living with heart disease.” — Dr. Beth Abramson, Director, Cardiology

Gene focus: More people will realize the promise of genetics in medicine.

“In 2018, gene therapy and immunotherapy will increasingly become an option for the treatment of disease. We will continue to see new targeted therapies for cancer and a significant uptake of tumour sequencing, which will pave the way for liquid biopsy to move toward the mainstream.” —  Allison Hazell, Clinical Director, Genetics

Skincare: Botox 2.0 and ciao to over-plumped cheeks.

“A prediction we are hoping to see come to fruition in 2018 is RTX0002, otherwise know as Botox 2.0.  This molecule has been in development for a number of years.  It works like traditional Botox to smooth frown lines and wrinkles, however, it is reported to last up to six months rather than the 3-4 months that we see with our current products. This will make treatments more convenient but will also require the expertise of a cosmetic dermatologist or plastic surgeon to get the best long-lasting results. I also hope we will finally say goodbye to over-plumped cheeks. My patients are requesting a more defined and contoured look. By enhancing facial features with the judicious placement of dermal fillers and Botox we can define, enhance and sculpt the face for a more natural yet refreshed look.” — Dr. Julia Carroll, Director of Dermatology

Travel: There’s more opportunity both local and global.

“I am predicting the largest group of Medcan clients we have assembled to summit Kilimanjaro in July. We are also predicting to have one of the biggest teams for the Ride to Conquer Cancer® Training Program, which means the largest amount of money Medcan has ever raised for this event.” — Rob Turner, personal fitness trainer and coordinator of Kickstart

High-Performance: 2018 will be a year of personal growth

“More people will realize how important it is to challenge oneself in order to maintain a high-performance life. Challenge can mean any number of things: At the core of the idea is growth—the act of developing new skills, or getting better at old ones. For society to nurture growth,  our culture needs to embrace those who are attempting new things. How to do that? Start by being warm and welcoming to new faces at the gym, in your fitness class or running group.” — Shaun Francis, CEO and Chair

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