As much as we might want to resist, it’s hard not to get swept up in whatever new health trend is sweeping the nation.
The problem with these wellness trends is that they’ve got the word “health” attached to them when that might not be the case at all. As Jen Scheinman, MS, RDN, of Jen Scheinman Nutrition explains, health trends are not a one-size-fits-all approach.
“Everyone is unique based on their genetics, health history, lifestyle, food preferences and relationship to food,” she says. “So, what may work for one person will not work for everyone.”
To figure out the truth once and for all, we spoke with some of the best health experts out there to see which trends are tipping more to the “do not try” side.
Stressing About Self-Care
Believe it or not, self-care may actually be doing you more harm than good. That is, if you’re stressing about it too much. This happens when people overload their schedules with too many self-care activities, explains Fiona Gilbert, a biohacker, self-care expert and CEO of Quanta Therapies, to Lively.
“They end up feeling guilty and stressed out that they are not meeting their self-care goals,” says Gilbert. “Talk about doing it wrong!”
While we’re not saying you should give up that yoga class or face mask anytime soon, it is all about finding balance.
Gilbert says the goal is to be present and patient in your self-care activities. “Ask yourself: How does this make me feel? Do I feel good? If yes, keep going. If no, stop.”
Doing so will help you save time in the long run. For instance, it won’t feel all that relaxing if you’re forcing yourself to meditate for 20 minutes when just a few deep breaths would do.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, either. “Your brain doesn’t know the difference between stress caused by your job and the stress caused by you worrying about you not taking better care of yourself,” adds Gilbert.
So, while yes, doing yoga with the Dalai Lama himself might feel like the ultimate form of self-care, don’t forget that other things count, too. If binging Vanderpump Rules on the couch helps take away your stress, then by all means, do what feels best for you.
Just remember: It’s all about balance.
Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening
When activated charcoal first became a hot trend, you might have wondered why anyone would want to wipe the charcoal used in their grills all over their faces. Thankfully, activated charcoal is not the same thing.
That fact that it’s made its way into everything from beauty products to ice cream and even toothpaste, makes that painfully obvious.
If you’ve wanted brighter teeth by giving this latest trend a try, there are some things you should know.
"Many do not know that the abrasiveness of the material in activated charcoal can actually do more harm to your teeth than good,” Dr. Shahrooz Yazdani of Yazdani Family Dentistry explains to Lively.
For instance, Dr. Yazdani says that while activated charcoal does do a good job at removing stains from the teeth, it also holds some negative side effects. “Its harsh composition could lead to scratching, chipping or stripping of your enamel if you're not careful.”
Still hell-bent on trying it? Dr. Yazdani says to “make sure the charcoal granules are extra fine, and make sure to only lightly graze the teeth to avoid damage."
Unlike other diets, Lauren Adler, a licensed registered nurse, functional medicine clinician and peak performance health expert, explains that intermittent fasting (IF) focuses more on when to eat rather than what to eat.
“A common method includes fasting — abstaining from all food — for 16 hours out of the day and eating during the remaining 8-hour window.”
For example, a regular 16:8 fasting schedule could look like this: “skipping breakfast all together, eating lunch at noon and dinner sometime before 8:00pm.” It’s up to you whether you want to do IF every day or just for a few days a week. Some people even do OMAD, which stands for One Meal A Day and entails exactly what it spells out.
As for its long-term weight loss benefits, Adler says that the jury is still out, but that research does look promising. “The key to weight loss is persistence, and those who find success with intermittent fasting find it easy to maintain compliance.”
By now, you might be wondering: Where is the harm in this diet? The answer to that question lies in the fact that it all depends on each individual. “Intermittent fasting may be a miracle for certain metabolic types and be a confusing nightmare for others,” says Adler.
Jen Scheinman, MS, RDN, of Jen Scheinman Nutrition, agrees. “I use intermittent fasting a lot in my practice, but no I don't believe that it is safe for everyone to do,” she says. “People with diabetes or issues with blood sugar regulation should only try this if they are working with a dietician or other healthcare practitioner, and people with anxiety or issues with hormone balance should be careful.”
The fact that juice cleanses made it on this list should be a surprise to very few people. Over the years, more and more research has been done on this trend, concluding that it often does more harm than good (sorry, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead lovers).
The main reason is because juicing alone will not cleanse away toxins, explains Scheinman to Lively: “The body's detoxification and elimination process are very complex, with multiple phases that happen in the liver, colon, kidneys and skin.”
She adds that while juice is a great source of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, actually consuming whole foods is crucial for proper detoxification. “Without adequate supplies, toxins will not efficiently go through the entire detoxification and elimination pathway, and both of these two nutrients are lacking in a juice cleanse.”
This all applies to the new craze that has caused some people to take a breather from their obsession with kale: celery juice.
“There is not much harm in drinking celery juice as part of a healthy diet,” says Scheinman. “It's hydrating and full of nutrients, and if you're starting your day with a big glass of it instead of a sugar-sweetened coffee drink then it's a great addition.”
She makes it clear that this is where the benefits stop. Celery juice should be used in addition to a healthy diet, instead of as a standalone cleanse.