15 Quick Takeaways from
Last Week’s Global Wellness Summit
The Global Wellness Summit wrapped up last Friday, and it was a heady three days of dozens of keynotes and panels addressing the many ways that we’re now entering “A NEW New Era of Health & Wellness” The conference, celebrating its 15th anniversary, brought together a historic number of experts from both the medical and wellness worlds (for instance, six doctors and professors from Harvard University keynoted).
We could never summarize the depth and diversity of all the talks and conversations there, but at the end of each day, the 2021 co–chairs–Victor Koo, chairman of Tianren Culture, and Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer, the Cleveland Clinic–offered their “5 takeaways in 5 minutes.”
So, we thought we’d share them…
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1
The wellness economy is forecast to grow from $4.4 trillion in 2020 to $7 trillion in 2025–an incredible 60%. All 11 wellness markets will experience strong growth; the ones hit hardest by the pandemic (wellness tourism, thermal/mineral springs, and spas) will see the biggest growth in the next four years; and the biggest pandemic “winners” (wellness real estate and mental wellness) will also see powerful market expansion.
In a decade, “90 is likely to be the new 40.” The longevity science is clear: you are the coder of your own genes and the right wellness habits mean an unprecedented future of long, healthy lives.
Psychedelics and psilocybin are not being kept underground anymore: the medical research is on fire; there’s a steady decriminalization/legalization wave in the West, and investment in medical psilocybin and psychedelic companies is exploding. Psilocybin will become a key medicine for mental health, and the wellness world needs to get ready.
The research shows that many people self-heal from serious/terminal diseases, defying explanation by traditional medicine–but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an explanation. Four components–healing your relationship to food, healing your stress response, healing your immune system, and healing your beliefs–are the key to overall wellbeing and the phenomenon of “self-cure.”
There is a strong call for a new “ecosystem of wellbeing”: a future where there is real unity between climate health and wellness (which hasn’t always been the case).
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 2
Women have long been ignored in medical research and far too little has been invested in women’s health. A new era is ahead, one with far more investment and innovation in women’s health solutions. Women are lifting the veil of silence and shame around issues such as menopause as never before (which affects one billion women, or 12% of the world population).
The future: a reinvention of “time” itself. Circadian science companies will tackle the huge health problems that result when manmade “clock time” is not aligned with people’s internal, individual circadian clocks–and they will solve for many different circadian disruptions–whether shift work or long-haul travel. The future: apps and solutions that “shift” our clocks back to true circadian time.
Senior living is about to get completely disrupted because the current models are so far out of touch with the new (and coming) 55+ demographics’ mindsets and needs. The new “seniors” want to live in communities that are multigenerational, regenerative for them and the community, and put purpose and meaning in life first.
The arts and an attention to “aesthetic wellness” need to (and will) become a much bigger focus. One powerful example of where things are headed: how young generations are using music as therapy to escape screens and to connect with others.
The pandemic brutally exposed that health and wellness inequity is a bigger public health issue than we knew. While most governments have woefully underinvested in public health, there is a new urgency to change that. We must address the many disparities in access to all kinds of health and wellness–whether access to nature or vaccines. Public health spending and initiatives will rise, with a focus on preventative wellness.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 3
It’s impossible to overstate how much COVID-19 has raised the stakes on healthy buildings and indoor air quality. The quality of the air we breathe will take on huge future significance. The science around air quality measurement and purification is evolving fast and exposing snake oil solutions.
The pandemic has brought many health and wellness silver linings. Just a few: medical innovation and regulatory approvals are moving faster than ever (even Big Pharma is acting like a startup); plant-based diets have risen; telemedicine and digital health and wellness platforms mean much greater access to services and are moving more medicine and care into the home.
Research mounts that breathwork needs to be a true pillar of wellness–not a fleeting trend. A Stanford University study released at GWS tested four different breathwork protocols against each other and found that all four (for just five minutes a day) were more effective than meditation at reducing anxiety. One breathwork modality, “cyclic sighing,” (a combination of two inhales followed by a big exhale), had the most positive outcomes across every measure.
The GWS travels to Tel Aviv, Israel next year, and the diversity of health and wellness innovation at Israeli startups is breathtaking–such as Dr. Varda Shalev’s new company, Alike Health, which uses AI, crowdsourcing and big data to transform healthcare–such as being able to predict colon cancer in individuals.
Travel is coming back very strong; and wellness travel will do even better post-COVID. The big industry experts argue that the demand and the investment is really there.