As we welcomed the New Year the Wellspring team found itself pondering what lay ahead for the health and wellness industry after the twists and turns of 2015. To help answer that question we asked some of Australia’s leading health and wellness experts to share their predictions on the top issues for our industry this year.From diet trend hysteria to intuitive eating2016 will see a swing back from a hysterical preoccupation with dieting to a calmer approach to nutrition. Nutritionist and spa chef Samantha Gowingrecently spoke at the 2015 Global Wellness Summit about how a fixation on certain superfoods was leading towards an environmental collision course."Our manic importation of foods like chia seeds, quinoa and goji berries is disturbing global ecosystems. What do I see as the future? Sustainably sourced food from our own backyard and a welcome return to eating for pleasure," said Samantha.Medical cannabis to continue to be on the health policy agendaWith medical cannabis coming into wider use worldwide predominantly in North America and Europe to treat a growing variety of medical conditions in recent years, Director of Education for Endeavour College of Natural HealthDr Kate Broderick believes it is likely support for legalising the substance in Australia will continue to grow."With Australian national and state governmental interest having demonstrably increased in 2015 with respect to the medicinal qualities of this plant, 2016 looks to be the year Australian national health policy will address making medical cannabis available to patients who are looking for relief from various health conditions," said Dr Kate.Gut health to take centre stageThe gut may not be considered cocktail party conversation, but nutritionist Emily Holmesargues it is on its way to becoming just that. An understanding of how improved gut health can be linked to increased immunity and overall health and how it can be possible to prevent disease through a gut-healthy diet is gaining momentum."I expect to see increasing scientifically proven connections between poor gut health and physical disease, chronic disease and mental health. Dietary advice has a large role to play in supporting good gut health, and will focus on high fibre foods like whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables, and probiotics and fermented foods to increase good gut bacteria," said Emily. "Lifestyle will become increasingly important in treating gut health, as it becomes wider known it is adversely affected by stress and lack of exercise."Maple water to step up as the new coconut waterFor those health warriors going loco for coco, there is a newbie on the health drink market already taking Europe and the US by storm. Nutritional medicine practitioner Fiona Tuckpredicts maple water will be the next specialty water to strike gold with the health and wellness market."Maple water is believed to have all the health benefits of coconut water and then some. The water is derived from maple sap, tapped straight from the tree. It is unprocessed and full of nutrients such as potassium and manganese. As maple water comes from the water sap, it is low in sugar and lower in calories than coconut water and comes straight from nature," said Fiona.An increase in the prevalence of thyroid issuesNutritional medicine practitioner Kathy Ashtonbelieves 2016 will see an increase in patients experiencing thyroid issues which will likely result in a spike in obesity given the way the condition is often mistreated."Thyroid issues are a significant public health issue in Australia. Thyroid hormones are of paramount importance to all bodily functions, and unfortunately many health professionals currently only consider one section of a very complicated chain of events when it comes to thyroid hormones and how they interact with the body. I expect there will be repercussions from this in terms of physical and mental health."The future of modern cuisine is purple While packaged ‘superfoods’ may have ruled in 2015, Sandy Davidson, Endeavour College of Natural Health’s Program Leader Nutritional Medicine predicts purple foods will rise in popularity given their multiple health properties.With purple foods being linked to helping fight the obesity crisis, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease according to research by the University of Southern Queensland, Sandy believes 2016 will see more people seek out these dark coloured wholefoods."A purple monochrome dish provides a chock-a-block dose of anthocyanins. Research has demonstrated that anthocyanins improve fat metabolism, glucose tolerance, hypertension, and insulin resistance. Next time you are preparing a salad, whether vegetable or fruit, think of how these wonderful purple foods can be combined for taste and aesthetic. These foods certainly pack a powerful disease prevention punch!"Anthocyanins are found in different concentrations in purple foods, such as berries, plums, black raspberries, black grapes, cherries, pomegranate, purple carrots, red cabbage, red onions and eggplant.Airports to become health hubsYou may not associate airports and long distance travel with wellness, but Director of Health and Fitness TravelSamantha Lipiatt believes we can expect this to change in 2016."Travellers will have a range of incredible options available to them at airports around the world, including enjoying a moment of peace in meditation rooms in London Heathrow, slipping into a yoga studio to stretch and ditching the hustle in San Francisco, or hopping on their flight straight off a running track inspired by the Olympics in Tokyo," said Samantha.And new wellness businesses are creating clever ways to capitalise on the rise of healthy living, such as startup company Airfit which plans to place gym and shower facilities in airports behind security with an app you can use to book on the go. Once on-board, Samantha believes the in-flight wellness programs will become more accessible as demand continues to grow and airlines look to separate themselves from the pack."British Airways already boasts improved lighting to mimic natural light patterns, allowing passengers to sleep better and feel less jetlagged and the Cathy Pacific fleet are fitted with special filtration systems for cleaner air. Closer to home Virgin Australia offer guided meditations on-board, all contributing toward a holistic healthy flight experience," Samantha said.Greater focus on preventative healthcare measures2016 will see an increased emphasis on assessing people’s risk and reinforcing the vital importance of nutrition and lifestyle rather than adopting a ‘medication only’ approach, according to renowned cardiologist, author of Five Stages of Health and radio host Ross Walker."Medication may reduce your risk of heart attack or bypass, but ensure you are getting enough good quality rest, eliminate any addictions, follow healthy diet principles, exercise regularly and increase life satisfaction and you can reduce your risk of all diseases by up to 70 per cent with no side effects," Dr Ross said."On the same note, I expect we will continue to see mainstream medicine become more accepting of complementary therapies. It is wonderful to see doctors start to encourage their patients to incorporate meditation practice into their life, and I expect we’ll see much more of this type of integration in 2016."A greater focus on the ‘third space’Transitioning from one place to another, or one role to another is an experience we all share daily. With lines often blurred between work and home, our various roles can be interlaced across our day.Wellbeing educator Dr Jodi Richardsondescribes this zone of transition as the ’third space’, and believes knowing how to transition healthily will become more integral to wellbeing education during 2016."Whether we go from changing nappies at home to running a business, from juggling emails, projects and meetings at work to being a supportive friend, our roles are many and varied. Learning to put what we have been through behind us so that we can show up in our next role with the mindset to make the most of what comes next will become more important," said Dr Jodi."I expect to see a greater light shone on the fact that it is what we do ‘in between’ that really matters."