I wasn’t really sure where to start with this one because there are so many trends that I see on a daily basis that concern me. Most of it is on social media, where consumers peruse information throughout the day while they wait in line or have a few minutes of down-time. Unfortunately there are lots of people sharing information and promoting lifestyle approaches that are dangerous and have no basis whatsoever. While I could make this article really long, I am going to keep it brief to some of the scary health trends that I have seen as the most popular and pressing right now. I could probably make this a monthly column!
Cleanses and Detox Diets
These “quick-fix” weight loss approaches are usually low in calories and protein. They can and do have a laxative effect making people feel as though they have lost weight while experiencing digestive upset, diarrhea and sometimes dehydration. This approach can also result in low blood sugar and electrolyte imbalances. Rapid weight loss is unsafe and not likely to stay off, making this an unsustainable way to manage a healthy weight. Some “cleanses” are basically a cocktail of herbs and alternative remedies. These mixtures can contain many different substances that interact with each other with potentially very dangerous results.
Other detox methods involve drinking excessive amounts of water. There is no question that drinking an appropriate amount of of water is important for good health. It is one of our body’s natural filtration systems. However, what many people don’t realize is that it actually is possible to drink too much water. This too can also cause electrolyte imbalances. Although it is not common, it does happen when following extreme “cleansing” regimens. It’s important to practice good common sense to stay properly hydrated.
Excessive High Intensity Exercise
Of course exercise has many health benefits but just because it’s good for you doesn’t mean that excessive amounts are even better. If you do it too often, or for too prolonged of a period of time it can cause problems. With the surge of many different gyms and training approaches that incorporate high intensity exercise, there has been a growing number of people sustaining injuries, burnout, and other health issues as a result.
It’s important to monitor exercise intensity to make fitness gains. However, the rise of serious injuries and complications of high intensity training has become a common reality. There are many symptoms of overtraining and range from fairly minor to very serious and even life threatening (1). Listening to your body and getting professional input may help you develop a good balance of meeting your fitness goals and taking care of your body.
Use Of Peroxide
You may be familiar with the use of peroxide as a “natural” or topical anti-infective agent. Who hasn’t put a little peroxide on a small cut to watch it bubble as it cleans and disinfects a little scrape? However, as of late, I am seeing peroxide being used more often for a variety of reasons and this is concerning because the science is still out on the safety of this. There is early evidence that an increase in the cellular levels of peroxide has been linked to several key alterations in cancer (2). Unless you have spoken with a healthcare provider about using peroxide, I wouldn’t experiment with it.
Social Media Stars
While I love to use social media as a way to keep in touch and get motivation, I have realized it can also be a tricky place. I am seeing many people who claim to be experts with beautiful looking feeds and lots of great products to represent, however, they are severely lacking in the credential department. Celebrities are commonly paid to endorse a product that they have never even used. Showing off the latest supplement or a cool and interesting move in the gym might make for a great post, but is it safe or realistic for the average person viewing it? Maybe not. So, be careful of what you are consuming and make sure it’s right for you. Don’t log off feeling bad because you can’t do crunches hanging upside down off a punching bag. I can’t either and I think we’ll both be okay.
These diets require you to severely cut back on carbohydrates, which are the primary fuel source for our bodies and brains. I think we can stop right there, can’t we? It’s never a good idea to restrict healthy carbohydrate as part of your overall nutrition. Unless you have been directed to do this by a health care provider or have a medical condition that requires this, don’t do it.
How To Be A Savvy Consumer of Health Information
It’s no easy task to fact-check when it comes to health information. It takes time and energy and it’s sometimes hard to find the original source of the information. Here are some easy first questions to guide you in figuring out if the information you’re consuming is credible.
- What can you find out about the author? Do they have education and credentials in a health related field or are they merely a blogger who likes to write about health related topics? An expert should have advanced degrees and over 10,000 hours of hands-on experience working in their field of expertise.
- Can you find references to original, scientific sources anywhere on their website?
- Do they belong to professional associations?
- Is the information they present up-to-date?
- Can you dig deeper into the information that is presented? In other words, can you visit government agencies, non-profit organizations, or professional associations that can verify or support the information presented?
- Does the information sound too good to be true?
- Do they base their information on the testimonials of a small group of people?
- Does the product rely on a celebrity to promote it?
- Can you find scientific information that supports it on PubMed?
1.Furman, J. (2015). When exercise causes exertional rhabdomyolysis. Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, 28(4), 38-43. doi:10.1097/01.jaa.0000458861.78559.3b
2.Hydrogen peroxide. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2017, from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/hydrogen_peroxide#section=Top