#DHRecaps | On the health radar in 2018

#DHRecaps | On the health radar in 2018

From keto diets and plant-based proteins to dance-fitness regimes and mindfulness retreats, 2018 has been eventful as far as health and fitness trends are concerned

Keto diet was trending in 2018.

Earlier this year, a friend nominated me for a ‘no sugar diet’ on Instagram. Basically, I had to eliminate all sugar from my diet for ‘just one month’. I declined. Over the next three weeks, there were dazzling photographs of sugar-free oatmeal cookies, jasmine teas and blissful bodies on my social media feed. Until one day, just like that, the diet project ended. Apparently, she realised that there are no real benefits to sugar cleansing. Also, sugar is present in more foods than we like to believe. And the biggest reason, my friend admitted, was that she “didn’t feel good about it.”

There’s something about December that makes one reflective and introspective. As much as it’s the time to plan for the future, it’s also a good time to look back at the year that is coming to a close. So, let’s look at some of the biggest health and fitness trends that ruled 2018, shall we?

The keto diet

Unless you have been living under a rock, you would have heard of the famed ketogenic or keto diet. While celebrities have been experimenting with this ‘no carb diet’ for a while now, 2018 saw the aam junta embracing it with passion. “The USP of keto diet is supposedly instant weight loss. However, most people are ignorant about the health risks like kidney damage, nutritional deficiencies, nausea and fatigue,” says dietician and nutritionist Neha Sharma.

While the diet does have proven health benefits in the case of patients suffering from conditions like Parkinson’s disease and type 2 diabetes, Neha insists that the diet calls for professional guidance and monitoring. “People who have tried it on a whim, expecting instant weight loss, have experienced rude shocks. And even those who manage to lose weight, always regain the kilos. We need to know the perils of such elimination or yo-yo diets,” she cautions.

Organic, vegan, & what-have-you

Did you know that Sikkim is the world’s first ‘organic state’? Given that the United Nations made the declaration this year, the spotlight has been on organic foods in India. While doing away with chemicals, fertilisers, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and artificial additives in food has its own challenges, 2018 saw consumers become more aware and appreciative of the health benefits of going organic.

Veganism was taken up by many this year
Veganism was taken up by many this year 

And then, there is veganism. Whether it turns out to be a fad only time will tell, but Neha agrees that plant-based food choices have grown in popularity this year. Just like millets. “There’s a lot more innovation and accessibility in the food space today. Health-conscious people, especially in the metros, are willing to pay a premium for food choices that are not mainstream. And it’s not about aping the West, but going back to our roots. For instance, you don’t need to spend a fortune on exotic quinoa; instead, opt for home-grown, gluten-free amaranth, packed with vitamins, minerals and proteins. Millets like ragi and jowar are also slowly becoming a part of the urban Indian diet,” notes the Delhi-based dietician and nutritionist.

Fun fitness

If you are one of those who equates fitness with the gym and lifting weights, 2018 must have been quite a revelation. With the growing popularity of zumba, pilates, mixed martial arts, kickboxing, myriad variations of yoga… fitness just got a lot more fun. Because the chances of staying on course are better when fitness doesn’t become one more thing to do on that ever-growing to-do list! Also, wearable technology, like activity trackers and smartwatches, makes it easier to stay motivated, and celebrate fitness milestones.

Zumba earned many fans this year.
Zumba earned many fans this year.

“Dance-fitness classes are a great way to not just lose weight with cardio, but also do strength training,” says entrepreneur Navin Reddy, who mustered the courage to walk into a zumba class about six months ago. “There’s this misconception that fitness forms like zumba, pilates and yoga are feminine, which is why most men are reluctant to even try them. I see that changing now.”

Matters of the mind

This year, an interesting study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that cutting down social media time to 30 minutes a day reduces the risk of depression and loneliness — conditions that are reaching epidemic proportions, particularly in urban India.

“An increasing number of people are realising that they are becoming addicted to their smartphones. There are efforts being made to unplug from the devices and escape the toxic social media environments. However, most of us are still struggling to find that healthy balance,” admits consultant psychologist Dr Vandana Gupta. Whether it is exploring mindfulness programmes and wellness retreats, or talking about depression and raising awareness about mental ailments, 2018 was the year when mental health was right at the centre of healthcare discussions.