Tech enables holistic performance – Edition 29


Technology has advanced and transformed the future of work, health and society in a positive way, but it has also been less beneficial at times, undermining aspects of social fabric and human connection. Do the positives outweigh the negatives? We think so.
Technological progress serves up opportunities for new and different experiences that help human beings to flourish and realise their potential. Holistic human performance – not just physical, but mental, emotional and spiritual – is becoming more common, but is still very niche, with growing numbers of products and practices designed to support optimised wellbeing.
Muse, for example, is a new meditation technology that helps you know that you’re doing meditation right and having a positive impact on your state of wellbeing.
Technology dispels the persistent premise that you need to go to a specific building or services outlet to access wellness services. Efficacy tools like Muse increase accessibility and help you to ‘get it right’.

“Technological progress serves up opportunities for new and different experiences that help human beings to flourish”

‘Extreme wellness’ is a term that’s trending right now; it’s all about the exploration and realisation of optimal human capacity. Wim Hof, aka The Iceman, is an increasingly well-known character in this wellness segment who combines mind focus, breathing and an ability to tolerate the cold. That makes it sound simple, but the beauty of what he demonstrates is its simplicity, and anyone (almost) can do it. None of what he does is tech-enabled. But the science that proves the effectiveness of what he achieves, through a highly focused mind, is.

Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence


There is good reason to be alarmed about the decline in the world’s insect population. In locations as far apart as Germany, California and Borneo, different measures of insect life and health have recorded population falls ranging from 50% to 80%, albeit the evidence is far from comprehensive. This matters because insects are the most abundant life form, but even more importantly, they play the predominant role in pollinating 87% of flowering plants, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

The biggest declines have been measured in Europe and the US, where human population is at its most dense, and where modern agricultural methods are fairly ubiquitous. In all, there are at least 73 studies showing insect population declines, and although some academics remain sceptical about the numbers, there is very good reason for concern.

“Insects are indicators of the health of any ecosystem; so any decline in numbers is a warning to pay attention and investigate the reasons why.”

Insects are indicators of the health of any ecosystem; so any decline in their numbers is, at the very least, a warning to pay attention and investigate the reasons why. One of the key moves to protect the insect population so far has been farmers and consumers adopting more organic habits, less damaging to wildlife. At the same time, we know organic yields are lower than those produced by intensive farming methods, so there is a need for increased focus on high yield techniques, such as insecticide-reducing genetically modified crops. Another approach is to set aside some land for wildlife to flourish.

On the domestic front, wild flower patches contribute more positively than manicured gardens; and encouraging natural predators to keep on top of pests is an ecologically preferable alternative to using pesticides. The key wellbeing message is to highlight the need for greater awareness of the ecosystems that support life. Irritating as some insects might be, they make an invaluable contribution to a healthy world.

Steve Dunne, Chairman, Well Intelligence


The demand and popularisation of cannabis use, and in particular cannabidiol- (CBD) related products has grown dramatically. The perception (of CBD usage) is moving from caution to desire in informed circles. Last year alone, investment in the legal marijuana industry in the US soared to more than $10.4 billion, compared to a total of $5bn invested in the three years prior to that. In 2019 investment is forecast to rise to $16billion.

Increasingly supportive legislation has encouraged investors and entrepreneurs to take full advantage. Globally, investment in legal cannabis products is expected to reach $146.4 billion by 2025.

There are two key chemicals found in cannabis: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive chemical that causes the characteristic ‘high’; and CBD, the non-psychoactive componenent. In 2018 the WHO stated that CBD may be helpful in treating the symptoms of Alzheimers, Parkinsons and other illnesses and disease.

The UK has approved CBD as a treatment for multiple sclerosis with the proviso that it must contain no more than 0.2% THC. Consumers of ‘legal cannabis’ in the UK doubled from 125,000 in 2017 to 250,000 in 2018.

“It would be easy for consumers to interpret positive media coverage to mean that ‘cannabis is good for you.”

Caution nevertheless remains high, with a growing body of evidence from Kings College in London linking cannabis (THC use) to the onset of psychosis – particularly where highly potent strains are involved.

The take-away is that this is one market where there is a strong need to understand the facts and educate people accordingly. In communities, the workplace, healthcare and holistic practices it would be easy for consumers to interpret positive media coverage to mean that ‘cannabis is good for you’. Relaxation of laws in the US and Canada on cannabis use for recreational purposes will provide further ‘real’ insight into the risks – and will help other countries shape their own policies.

Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence

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