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This Is What Being Healthy Will Look and Feel Like in 2020

With self-driving cars and sneakers that tie themselves becoming a reality, Back to the Future doesn't seem all that far-fetched anymore—and the health and wellness industry is not just sitting on the sidelines of this technology zeitgeist. Trend forecasters at the Global Wellness Institute recently spun out a vision of what the future of wellness will look like—and it's, like, totally awesome.

Abstract hand a young man is opening a refrigerator doorBDKKEC072/Shutterstock

A healthier fridge

The majority of today’s kitchens are odes to the 1940s and 50s with cavernous cabinets that are perfect for packaged and processed goods and refrigerators with only small dark drawers for fruits and vegetables—but kitchen design is (finally) about to catch up with wellness trends. Savvy designers are turning the table on old-school kitchen design with transparent refrigerators that display (and correctly store) fresh foods so they are more enticing, not to mention easier to grab than those less healthy default choices. Until then, use these 12 strategies to organizing your fridge for weight loss.

Rosemary in white pot with other white pot herb as backgroundAntigoni Lekka/Shutterstock

A greener kitchen

Kitchens of the future will have space for gardens, which will help keep the air clean—and give you instant access to fresh herbs, like basil and mint. Built-in composts will also be a featured so more of us can get rid of organic waste the right way with only the push of a button.

Hygienic and high technology of the toilet bowl, automatic flush toiletNWStock/Shutterstock

Smart toilets

Futuristic bathrooms may well contain smart toilets that analyze waste. There is really no better way to tell how you do—or don’t—digest and process certain nutrients or medications than by analyzing your stool and urine, says Beth McGroarty, director of research at the Global Wellness Institute. These laboratories in lavatories are likely not too far off as the latest smart toilets are powered by Alexa so germaphobes don’t need to use their hand to flush. There are many things that your poop can reveal about your health.

Taktsang MonasteryApisak Kanjanapusit/Shutterstock

Goodbye spas, hello transformative travel

Basic massages and meditation classes are so yesterday. So-called transformational travel will deploy fantasy avatars, gaming, role-playing, and storytelling for fully immersive experiences. To that end, the soon-to-open Six Senses Bhutan comprises five totally differently themed and decorated lodges (think a forest-within a forest, old stone ruins), each immersed in one of the five key pillars of happiness; guests move between them to experience a journey through all their senses. Another example is the yet-to-be-built Red Mountain Resort in Iceland, where guests follow the intense, five-chapter emotional and sensory voyage of an ancient Icelandic hero. Big picture: We can expect more immersive experiences such as soaking in hot springs while listening to live music so that weary travelers can get out of their own heads and way, McGroarty says.

Laboratory test. Microscope, pills, test tube on white background top view9dream studio/Shutterstock

A healthy eating plan that’s just for you

We are already seeing companies like 23andme.com bring personal genetic testing to the masses, but this is just the beginning, McGroarty says. One innovative company, Wellness FX, is combining a host of data sets (blood chemistry, hormone testing, genetics, and gut microbiome) for a better picture of our future health status and potential challenges. “This information will give way to a personalized diet and eliminate the trial and error involved with choosing therapies that prevent or treat diseases and conditions.” Some tests may be cost prohibitive, but others will be more affordable.

“Real, personalized healthcare is based on combining data with sophisticated coaching to develop tailored recommendations,” agrees Jennifer Lovejoy, PhD, chief translational science officer at Arivale, a Seattle-based scientific wellness company that offers genetic analysis with personal coaching. “By combining data from genetics and clinical labs with lifestyle questionnaires, coaches can create a personalized road map for individuals to optimize their health and avoid disease.” Once enough information is amassed, the genetic data can be used for research that may one day result in cures for chronic illnesses.

Before you do genetic testing though, find out what your doctor isn’t telling you about genetic tests.

Doctor examines the patient tomogramsfam_photo/Shutterstock

“Elite” brains

The term “brain hacking” sounds nefarious, but it’s a thing, and brain optimization clubs, like the soon-to-launch Field in New York City, will offer up all sorts of services to create an “elite brain.” “There are already a lot of supplements used for brain optimization, but we will be seeing more brain optimization clinics,” McGrath says. Doctors in these clinics run high-tech brain scans for up-close-and-personal imaging of your brain, and then they can tap noninvasive technologies to tweak the circuits and improve mental prowess and boost “consciousness enhancement” without drugs. Here’s how to make your brain healthy while waiting for a brain optimization club to pop up near you.

Female chef hands holding a colander with shiitake mushroomsOlha Afanasieva/Shutterstock

A new “it” veggie

“Mushrooms may become the new kale, Brussels sprouts, or other formerly-eschewed-vegetable-turned-trendy,” says Katie Kennedy Gilligan, chef and director of the culinary program for GroundSea Fitness, a wellness retreat in the Berkshire Mountains. “Mushrooms provide a wide variety of essential vitamins and nutrients—particularly vitamins B, D, and C,” she says. “Shiitakes are particularly known for increasing immune and heart health, while assisting in ways the body fights off disease and inflammation. She’s a big fan of Lion’s Mane and Cordyceps, two varieties that are particularly effective for mind and body attentiveness.

Next, don’t miss these things that will probably be extinct by 2030.

Denise Mann, MS
Denise Mann is a freelance health writer whose articles regularly appear in WebMD, HealthDay, and other consumer health portals. She has received numerous awards, including the Arthritis Foundation's Northeast Region Prize for Online Journalism; the Excellence in Women's Health Research Journalism Award; the Journalistic Achievement Award from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; National Newsmaker of the Year by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; the Gold Award for Best Service Journalism from the Magazine Association of the Southeast; a Bronze Award from The American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (for a cover story she wrote in Plastic Surgery Practice magazine); and an honorable mention in the International Osteoporosis Foundation Journalism Awards. She was part of the writing team awarded a 2008 Sigma Delta Chi award for her part in a WebMD series on autism. Her first foray into health reporting was with the Medical Tribune News Service, where her articles appeared regularly in such newspapers as the Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Dallas Morning News, and Los Angeles Daily News. Mann received a graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and her undergraduate degree from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. She lives in New York with her husband David; sons Teddy and Evan; and their miniature schnauzer, Perri Winkle Blu.

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