Let's talk about wellness and health. It's overwhelming. Where to even begin? When I was beginning my own personal health and fitness journey, I subscribed to so many ideas without even really looking into them. It's easy to follow wellness blogger after wellness blogger, to scour Goop's website for advice on how to get glowy skin, but what does it all mean? How many of us sit down and actually look into the trends that it's so easy to obsess over?
There seems to be a new health and wellness trend every single day. Celery juice is currently having its moment, and jade rollers certainly had theirs. It's easy to spend a fortune on every single product that influencers post about, because, look at them! Look at their life! It looks so healthy and perfect!
Here's a little info you probably already know: nothing is quite as it seems. Yes, sure, there are things regarding health and fitness that are just true. Drinking water and moving your body is good for you. But what about everything else?
Let's dive into some popular health trends and get to the truth of them, shall we?
via: Getty ImagesIf you've been in a juice or smoothie shop as of late, there's a good chance you've seen a drink that has "activated charcoal" in it. If you've walked the aisles at any Target, you may have noticed an activated charcoal face mask. But is it worth your time and money? And what is it? According to Dr. Timothy Stirneman of Compassionate Dental Care in Illinois, activated charcoal is "a supplement with a variety of uses. It is a fine black powder made from coal, coconut shells, peat, petroleum coke, bone char, and olive pits." So, can it improve your skin and help you detox?
There's not much evidence supporting the hype behind activated charcoal.
via: Getty ImagesIt's used in emergency rooms for when people ingest poison, but when it comes to skincare, you won't see much of a difference. “We do see it being used in many food and cosmetic items," the medical director of the California Poison Control System's Fresno-Madera Division, Dr. Rais Vohra, says. “The claims are generally that it helps to detoxify the skin or body tissues that it contacts. Most of it is hype. The claim is that it can get into pores and bind up oils and dirt particles that get trapped in there. I have not seen any credible evidence that it works better than soap." Stirneman says that while you can eat activated charcoal, there's danger in consuming too much. "However, a high intake over an extended period of time can whittle away the essential vitamins and minerals that are in your digestive system," Stirneman says.
Apple Cider Vinegar
via: Getty ImagesBy the way, wellness bloggers swear by apple cider vinegar (ACV), you would think it was the elixir of life. And if you don't drink ACV? Well, forget it. You and your health are doomed. But how good is ACV for you, really? According to the University of Chicago Medical Center, it definitely does have some health benefits, but there's also a fair amount of hype behind some claims as well.
So what are the good things about ACV?
via: Getty ImagesThe health benefits come from the nutrients, probiotics and acetic acid in ACV. Overall, it's also safe to ingest. But here are some things to be aware of: It's very acidic, so it can erode away your teeth enamel. Since it's acidic, it can spark up your acid reflux. If you have problems with your kidneys or kidney disease, you will have trouble processing the excess acid from ACV. Dr. Edwin McDonald of UChicago Medicine writes, "Like any supplement, ACV won't replace a healthy lifestyle. It may have some benefits to our bodies, but overall, we need more studies to truly understand the health benefits and side effects associated with ACV."
The Keto Diet
via: Getty ImagesAhhh, the keto diet. Have you heard of it? Chances are unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard someone talk about how they're obsessed with the keto diet and are bound to lose weight quickly. Here's the big question surrounding keto: is it safe? According to Healthline.com, the keto diet is "any extremely low- or no-carbohydrate diet that forces the body into a state of ketosis." There are definitely benefits to keto. It's been used to help symptoms of children who have epilepsy, and other studies say the keto diet is good for people who struggle with obesity.
Studies suggest that the keto diet is only healthy when used short-term.
via: Getty ImagesClinical dietitian at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, Lisa Cimperman, R.D.N, says that most of the weight you lose on keto is just water weight. "Once your body enters ketosis, you also begin to lose muscle, become extremely fatigued, and eventually enter starvation mode. Then it actually becomes even harder to lose weight," she told Healthline. Certified nutritionist Francine Blinten, R.D. told Healthline, "Keto diets should only be used under clinical supervision and only for a brief period. They have worked successfully on some cancer patients in conjunction with chemotherapy to shrink tumors and to reduce seizures among people suffering from epilepsy." But if you're the general public, you should proceed with caution.
via: Getty ImagesDoes lemon water really speed up your metabolism? Ian Musgrave, senior lecturer in pharmacology at The University of Adelaide, spoke to the Huffington Post Australia about whether lemon water is really a miracle drink or not.
via: Getty ImagesLemon water is not the answer to your health prayers or weight loss. "It's not going to be a miracle, it's not going to detox you or result in weight loss. Let your body do its thing, don't go overboard and watch out for tooth erosion," he said. He also says, "There is no evidence that apple cider vinegar or lemon water – or a combination of these – will do anything for digestion or indigestion."
via: Getty ImagesI follow quite a few people who take collagen supplements every single day, whether in their coffee or smoothies or juice. I always thought collagen was just what made your lips nice and pouty, but all of a sudden it's all wellness and health influencers talk about. Are collagen supplements good for you/do they work/and what the heck are they? According to the University of Utah's Health division, the hype behind collagen supplements is just that: hype. They define collagen as a "structural protein" that makes up about "30% of your body's whole protein content."
Collagen is basically the glue that holds everything together.
via: Getty ImagesWhen it comes to skincare, collagen-infused products don't really do anything. The University of Utah says that any results are temporary, at best. There's also not a ton of evidence for collagen as a dietary supplement. "There isn't any evidence that consuming collagen will help your body produce more of it," the site writes. There are also uncomfortable side effects of increasing your collagen intakes, like abdominal pains and nausea. Most doctors have come to the conclusion that although you probably won't see the results you expect, it's relatively safe to consume collagen supplements.
via: Getty ImagesIf you're like me, then you're constantly scouring the internet for healthy alternative recipes for classic sweet treats. A trend I've noticed popping up is the use of coconut sugar instead of cane sugar. People swear by coconut sugar, but is it really that much better than regular old white sugar? Coconut sugar comes from the coconut palm tree and is believed by some to be way healthier than cane sugar. Here's the thing: coconut sugar does contain some nutrients, according to Healthline. It contains iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium along with some antioxidants.
But don't substitute coconut sugar for real foods.
via: Getty ImagesCoconut sugar is extremely high in calories, and in order to even see any benefit from the above nutrients, you'd have to eat a ridiculous amount of it. Coconut sugar is also loaded with fructose, just like regular table sugar. At the end of the day, coconut sugar is not that different from regular table sugar. Healthline says that coconut sugar should be in the same boat as other sugar alternatives.
via: Getty ImagesWhile incredibly convenient, microwaves also provide a bit of an alarm for some people. "Don't stand close to the microwave! The radiation!" Is the fear around microwaves legit, or can we use them safely and without worry?
Here's some good news for microwave-lovers out there...
via: Getty ImagesResearch shows that using a microwave does not increase your cancer risk.
via: Getty ImagesLet's talk about the supposed healing and spiritual powers of crystals. The idea is that holding a crystal (like rose quartz) close to your body can foster healing of the physical, spiritual and emotional kind. Time magazine reports that not many studies have been carried out to really delve into the validity of crystals.
But what little research has been done has led to the conclusion of a placebo effect.
via: Getty Images"If people believe that a treatment will make them feel better, many of them do feel better after they have had the treatment, even if it is known to be therapeutically worthless," Christopher French, professor of psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, told Time. Basically, your doctor probably won't encourage you to hold a crystal instead of taking medicine. But the placebo effect is powerful. Do you believe in the power of crystals?
via: Getty ImagesY'all, celery juice is having its moment. If you follow any influencer or blogger, they're likely to begin their day with raw celery juice. Is it good? Is it just basically water? While many people praise celery juice and its transformative power, there's no science behind the drink.
Celery juice can be beneficial, of course.
via: Getty ImagesRachel Goodman, R.D. and owner of Rachel Good Nutrition, told MindBodyGreen, "Celery is a good source of potassium, vitamin K, and flavonoids — compounds that have been shown in studies to help keep electrolyte balance, function as antioxidants, and can help lower blood pressure and inflammation." She believes people are seeing positive results simply because celery is incredibly hydrating. And who doesn't need to drink more water? Goodman also believes the hype should be taken with some caution. "When it comes to our food choices, we tend to get fixated on a single food or beverage to resolve our health issues when in reality there is no one food that will cure disease... We need to be looking at our overall lifestyle and cultivate healthy behaviors for optimal health. If you enjoy celery juice, it can be part of a healthful eating pattern, but it should be part of the bigger picture and should not replace intake of all other vegetables and fruits," she said.
via: Getty ImagesIf you've ever complained about sore muscles, chances are someone has recommended you take an Epsom salt bath. There's nothing new about the Epsom salt bath, but with the increase in workout popularity, it's had a sort of resurgence. But, there hasn't been much research. ABC News reports that there has actually only been one study about the positive effect that Epsom salt has on muscles.
The other studies show that it was just a placebo effect.
via: Getty ImagesMichele Promaulayko, editor-in-chief of Yahoo Health, votes the Epsom salt bath trend as a "quit." "It’s a quit, unfortunately," she tells ABC News. "But that said, sometimes things work because there’s a placebo effect. In this case there just aren’t enough clinical studies to support it but if it feels good why not, it’s not going to hurt you." So the take away seems to be: why not?
via: Getty ImagesIntermittent fasting has been popping up more and more as of late, in regards to weight-loss methods. But is it safe and healthy and effective? We live in a world where people want results quickly, so it's easy to latch onto trends that spout things like "weight loss, FAST!" So what's the deal with this IF theory?
It's not for everyone.
via: Getty ImagesDr. Mike Roussell writes for Shape magazine that, "Intermittent fasting has been around for a long time but isn’t for everyone. I would recommend it only for people who have a good grasp on healthy eating and are looking to break a fat-loss plateau. I don’t use fasting with my clients because I choose to focus on developing other nutritional habits that I believe are crucial for long-term diet success." He also explains that fasting still hasn't been proven as the most effective way to lose weight.
via: Getty ImagesAdaptogens have recently been touted as ways to help relieve stress and anxiety. They're natural substances, mostly derived from plants. These expensive supplements are popular in the health and wellness influencer world, but are they worth the hefty price tag? Adaptogens have been said to balance hormones, give you better skin, give you a better sex drive, boost your immune system, give you energy and focus, and in some cases even fight cancer. But are they actually working, or is it a placebo effect?
Well, there's not much research.
via: Getty ImagesVery few studies have been published on the benefits of adaptogens. Melinda Wenner Moyer of Self.com wrote, "I searched through the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s database of more than 27 million published study abstracts and couldn’t find a single study in which researchers gave chaga to human beings for any reason, let alone to determine if the fungus slows down aging in the skin." Hmmm...this definitely raises some eyebrows when it comes to the validity of adaptogens. The bottom line? Moyer writes that most doctors say adaptogens are safe and fine to take, but there's no evidence that they are actually beneficial to our health.
via: Getty ImagesWe've all heard that eating your own placenta is good for you - but where did this idea come from, and is it legit? The Washington Post reported in 2017 that researchers are warning against eating the placenta. The bottom line? Don't do it.
Eating placenta has been happening for a long time.
via: Getty Images"For many mammals, the consumption of placentas — placentophagy, as researchers call it — has been going on for as long as there have been placentas," says the Washington Post. Placenta enthusiasts say that eating it improves your mood and energy level, as well as relieves pain. Nowadays, you can take a placenta pill or put it into a smoothie. According to an 11-page research paper published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, over half of the doctors that were interviewed said they weren't informed about the benefits of placenta nor the risks, and 60% voted they weren't sure if they would be all for it. Despite Kim Kardashian West eating her own placenta, there's been plenty of warnings against it. "Because placentophagy is potentially harmful with no documented benefit, counseling women should be directive: physicians should discourage this practice," one study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded. "Health care organizations should develop clear clinical guidelines to implement a scientific and professional approach to human placentophagy." One new mother in Oregon passed on what was a potentially deadly blood infection to her infant who was breastfeeding. The Washington Post reported that the cause was the placenta pills she'd been taking.
via: Getty ImagesA Harvard professor called coconut oil "pure poison," but are the claims true? While it may not be pure poison, there is a lot of hype surrounding coconut oil. It's hard to know what's legit and what isn't.
Dr. Alice H. Lichtenstein, a Tufts University professor of nutrition science and policy, says that coconut oil being a superfood is just all hype.
via: Getty Images"There’s virtually no data to support the hype," she told The New York Times. The New York Times also points out that coconut oil is super high in saturated fat, which can contribute to heart disease and high cholesterol levels. "If you’re going to use coconut oil, make sure you get virgin oil," Dr. Tom Brenna, a professor of human nutrition at Cornell University, told the New York Times. “And, of course, everything in moderation." It was also concluded that cooking with olive oil was better for overall health. There's no reason to avoid coconut oil like the plague, but just be mindful of it!
Sweating Out Toxins
via: Getty ImagesMost of us have been there – at the gym after a night of horrible eating and drinking. "Can't wait to sweat this out," we say. But what are we even saying? Can you actually sweat out the toxins in your body? While it certainly feels like maybe you could, the answer is no.
You cannot sweat out toxins.
via: Getty ImagesNational Geographic reported that doctors say that sweating out toxins is a complete myth. The article points out that humans sweat in order to cool themselves down, not to get rid of toxic substances in our bodies. Chemist Joe Schwarcz told National Geographic that, "You always have to ask how much. When you look at sweat, you can find many substances, [but] the presence of a chemical cannot be equated to the presence of risk." What wellness trends have you been following? Let us know!