Discover the mind-blowing new tech that may change how you eat, exercise, and treat illness this year
Technology is moving forward at a breakneck speed, and health tech is no exception. Ever heard of Moore’s Law? It’s the idea that technological progress roughly doubles every 2 years.
Moore was one of the founders of the microchip company Intel, and he came up with his “law” back in the 1970s when talking about computer processing speed.
When you consider that the chip in your phone is more powerful than the computers NASA used to send astronauts to the moon, it’s hard to argue with Moore’s thinking. And when it comes to health tech, 2017 has some mind-blowing stuff in store for us.
Here are some of the life-changing tech advances coming in the New Year.
YOUR FITNESS TRACKER WILL KEEP TABS ON MORE THAN YOU EVER IMAGINED
Tracking your steps and heart rate was a good start.
But soon we’re all going to have access to “medical-grade, wearable sensors” that can monitor more advanced health biomarkers, says Steven Steinhubl, M.D., director of digital medicine at California’s Scripps Translational Science Institute.
One example that’s set to make a splash at CES® 2017 this week: a new fatigue-sensing shoe from Under Armour.
Under Armour’s new line of smart shoes will feature a technology the company is calling “Jump Test”: Take a brief timeout from your workout and jump a couple times. Your shoes will be able to gauge your level of muscle fatigue. Armed with this info, you can adjust your workout’s intensity to maximize performance gains and recovery.
Also at CES®, a company called Lief will demonstrate a new wearable skin patch capable of detecting your stress levels by tracking your heart rate variability.
Lief’s app, which it developed with the help of doctors at Stanford, features a “self-regulation toolkit” to help users knock out stress.
YOU’LL BE ABLE TO TREAT DIABETES WITH AN ARTIFICIAL PANCREAS
At least two new devices could radically change the nature of diabetes treatment, says Bertalan Mesko, Ph.D., author of The Guide to the Future of Medicine.
The FDA recently green-lighted the first artificial pancreas, which should make its way into patients with type-1 diabetes by mid-2017, he says.
Your pancreas monitors your blood sugar levels and releases the hormone insulin as needed. When your pancreas goes haywire—either failing to produce insulin or mismanaging the hormone’s release—diabetes results.
The new artificial pancreas implant—made by a company called Medtronic—“basically replicates what a healthy version of the organ does on its own,” Mesko says.
The second device is a smart contact lens—developed by Google—that can track a diabetes sufferer’s blood sugar levels by monitoring the chemistry of his tears.
Mesko says the lenses should be ready for trials this year.
Your Surgeon Will Use Augmented Reality to Zero In On Tumors
YOUR SURGEON WILL USE AUGMENTED REALITY TO ZERO IN ON TUMORS
Using “augmented reality” and 3-D visualization, surgeons will be more precise when performing complex and dangerous procedures, says Michael Roizen, M.D., chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic.
Just one example: When removing cancer-riddle tumor cells, a surgeon using augmented reality will be able to see exactly which cells contain normal DNA and which contain cancer mutations.
“The surgeon will see the cancer cells as a different color than the normal cells,” Dr. Roizen explains.
As a result, patients will be less likely to suffer lasting dysfunction or cancer recurrence.
You’ll Protect Your Heart By Treating Your Gut Bacteria
YOU’LL PROTECT YOUR HEART BY TREATING YOUR GUT BACTERIA
Your body—and especially your gut—is home to a vast and complex ecosystem of microorganisms known as your microbiome.
Your microbiome touches every aspect of your health. “Mental illness, stress, anxiety, obesity—all seem to be caused by gut bacteria and their waste products,” Dr. Roizen explains.
He says new medications coming in 2017 should help strengthen your microbiome in ways that prevent these and other major diseases.
One example: “We know that a substance in extra virgin olive oil prevents gut bacteria from producing inflammation in the body,” he says. “But the problem is you’d have to swallow a lot of extra virgin olive oil to get that benefit.”
One of these new microbiome-focused meds could provide enough of that olive oil substance to knock out that inflammation, which could protect you from heart disease and other diseases. If you don’t want to wait for the meds, there are plenty of easy ways to strengthen your microbiome right now.
You’ll Use Genetic Testing to Determine the Best Diet For YOU
YOU’LL USE GENETIC TESTING TO DETERMINE THE BEST DIET FOR YOU
At-home, saliva-based genetic testing is already here. And it’s about to get a lot more helpful, Mesko says.
Using the term “nutrigenomics” to describe a cross between gene and nutrition science, Mesko says DNA testing will soon be able to tell you exactly what nutrients your body requires for optimal wellness.
“A smart app could let you know which food you should eat and what you should avoid at all cost,” he says.
When you think about all the ways that food allergies and sensitivities—as well as nutritional shortfalls—affect how you think, feel, and function, the benefits of nutrigenomics are almost limitless.