Health has always been a trend. Whether it’s a new diet plan or exercise routine, it seems like there’s always something else out there we should be trying. But separating what’s rooted in fact from fiction can be tricky, especially because most health trends fall somewhere in between. In many cases, it may just be about doing your homework and consulting with a healthcare practitioner before making any drastic lifestyle changes. Remember, it’s always better to identify if something is right for you and introduce it slowly before going overboard.
Scroll the pages of Instagram and you’re bound to come across an account or two selling some sort of fit tea. From personal trainers to models and influencers, it seems everyone has been sipping their fair share. The idea is that in as little as a week or as long as a month, these teas will help decrease bloat and aid in weight loss—without having to make any actual changes to your diet.
The caveat, however, is that many of these products are laced with laxatives or similar “natural” ingredients that can mimic the same effect. While water weight may be the first to go, researchers have linked dehydration, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and cramping as the most common health risks. This quick-fix may seem successful short-term (and good enough for Kylie Jenner), but we can assure you that tea, alone, will not give you the abs you’ve been searching for.
2. Himalayan Salt Lamps
If you’ve ever spent time in a salt sauna, you may have noticed yourself breathing a little better afterward. You may have also noticed Himalayan salt lamps popping up in design stores, magazines and apothecaries left and right. Not only are they killer decorative accents, but salt lamps have also proven health benefits that increase your overall wellness. The lamps are said to release negative ions into the air, which then improves its quality and purity.
In turn, salt lamps have the ability to boost mood and energy levels, as well as decrease symptoms of allergies or asthma. The warm, orange glow can also provide a calming presence via light therapy. The sunset-esq aura is relaxing to both the body and the mind and is much easier on our eyes compared to fluorescents. This way, when it comes time to sleep, are bodies can power down properly. Holistic health remedies have been—and still are—in question time after time, but we stick by this one.
3. Activated Charcoal
In the past, activated charcoal was used as an emergency room antidote for drug overdoses, but in recent years, it’s obtained superfood status and been marketed primarily as a potent detoxifier. Though it’s not a superfood (or a food at all), health enthusiasts and Youtube sensations everywhere treat it as such. At first, people used it outside the body (we’ve all seen those infamous black masks), and they might be a quick fix for your pores, but overall they don’t address the cause of blackheads. In addition to facial cleansing, people are also buying boatloads of this black powder and putting it on everything from ice cream to whitening toothpaste—it’s even available in pill form, but it does have a place in history.
“The use of activated charcoal as a whitening agent has been experiencing a revival in dental hygiene practices,” says Dr. Robin Lucas of Lucas Dental in Hoboken. “In many cultures, charcoal and charcoal-like agents have been used as a cleanser or brushing mediums that do result in whiter teeth over time. It is natural, mild, and harmless with no sensitivity.” For internal use, the jury is still out on its safety, but it’s important to consult with a doctor before using or simply considering alternatives. “In my opinion, contemporary whitening agents which contain carbamide peroxide as the active agent would probably yield more dramatic results over time when compared to activated charcoal,” Dr. Lucas added. “Keep in mind that temporary sensitivity would be more likely with the use of most modern agents.”
4. Plant-based Protein Powder
There once was a common misconception that you cannot build muscle without eating meat or animal protein. However as we’ve seen in the last couple of years from successful vegan athletes, this is simply not true. With veganism becoming one of the more increasingly popular health and lifestyle trends, there’s been an emergence in the availability of plant-based protein powder. These powders are made from everything from hemp protein, brown rice protein, pea protein and more. When compared to products like whey or casein protein, they are naturally lower in saturated fat, unwanted animal hormones, and above all, aid in helping your body maintain an alkaline pH. In addition, they’re easier to digest than both whey and casein and still offer the branch chain amino acids we need to refuel our bodies.
There is a catch, however. Just like any protein powder, be sure to take a look at the list of active ingredients. Just because a product is marketed as vegan or plant-based, does not mean all of its ingredients are ideal for your body. Look out for artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, fillers or gums. Regardless, eating a plant-based diet is not a replacement for regular exercise.
5. Ketogenic Diet
Favored by celebrities, the Keto Diet has replaced Paleo, Atkins and any other food fad you can think of. Ketosis, where the diet’s name is derived from, is a metabolic process that converts stored fat into ketones which can be used as energy. In order for that to happen, your body must be depleted of carbohydrates and glucose. To put it simply, it is a high-fat, low-protein and low-carb meal plan. Although it’s backed by science, the effectiveness of the Keto Diet is what’s being called into question. Any initial decline in calorie intake is going to result in weight loss and a reduction of carbs is also going to result in pounds lost. But its longevity can be hard to tolerate for most people since it’s essentially altering your body’s ability to perform strength training and high-intensity exercise.
Even though you may feel like you’re working harder and better than ever, weakness and fatigue are common factors that come into play. So while the Keto Diet may improve your body’s general composition, it can negatively impact its potential to perform fully.
Main image by Elena Kloppenburg / Unsplash