There are so many health trends out there, but before Woody Allen was canceled he was a well-respected writer and director, and in 1973 he wrote and directed a film called Sleeper. Sleeper is about a man named Miles Monroe, who is living the millennial dream of owning the “Happy-Carrot,” a health-food store in NYC’s Greenwich Village. Miles ends up time-traveling 200 years into the future after being cryogenically frozen following a routine operation at the hospital. Miles was frozen without his consent (the irony is not lost on me either,) so when he is awoken by two scientists 200 years into the future, he is understandably freaked out.
Like the defense attorney at the end of Legally Blonde, you may be asking yourself right now “why is this relevant?” And like Elle Woods “I have a point.” And just like the judge vocalizes to Elle, you’re probably thinking “then make it.” Which leads me to a scene in Sleeper that is not only hilarious but captures the zeitgeist of our modern-day society’s obsession with trends surrounding wellness and lifestyle perfectly.
When Miles wakes up in the future there are two scientists observing him, Dr. Orva and Dr. Melik. To paraphrase their conversation, Dr. Orva asks Dr. Melik if Miles has asked for anything since he has woken up. Dr. Melik responds that he has requested “wheat germ, organic honey, and tiger milk” for breakfast. Miles’ request confuses Dr. Melik so Dr. Orva explains that these foods were thought to be life-preserving foods 200 years ago. Shocked Dr. Melik retorts “you mean there was no deep fat, steak, cream pie, hot fudge!” Dr. Orva responds “those foods were thought to be unhealthy precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.” The scene ends with the doctors trying to help Miles as he grapples with his new reality, Dr. Orva offers Miles a cigarette to calm his nerves. Miles declines saying he doesn’t smoke. But Dr. Orva persists saying “smoke this, it’s tobacco, one of the healthiest things for your body.”
Let’s start with tobacco is bad for you, that is an undeniable fact. Sorry vape nation that includes e-cigarettes, but with this scene Sleeper does bring up a good point. Since the beginning of time, homo sapiens have flip-flopped on health trends, meaning certain things once thought to be good for you can turn out to be bad for you, sometimes very bad- I’m looking at you frontal lobe lobotomy. Why it’s smart to do diligent research when it comes to which health trends you chose to follow because although Dr. Oz is hot, he may not be the best person to listen to when it comes to selecting a diet pill. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed by the task of sifting through all the ever-changing wellness trends out there, allow me to save you some time by providing you with at least 8 popular health trends that have now been debunked.
1. Vaping Is A Healthier Alternative To Cigarettes
When vapes first hit the market I was thoroughly convinced they were going to become the next fedora, a fad that was resurrected in the early/mid-2000s that everyone thought was cool at the time, but now looking back on was regrettable, to say the least. I thought this because regular cigarettes aren’t cool- in the sense they will literally kill you, but at least aesthetically they’re definitely cool. Cigs are so edgy like a cool girl in a French new wave film, or like a hot cowboy. While vaping on the other hand, at least to me, felt like the little bitch version of a cigarette. From the whole mechanism that goes into vaping to the flavors such as bubble gum cotton candy, it all seemed like an annoying hassle just to look like a lame. But F me, right? Because E-cigarettes, originally marketed as a way to wean off cigarettes and eventually quit smoking, have become the new standard for items you absolutely must grab before leaving the house: phone, keys, wallet, and most importantly vape.
A few fun facts about e-cigarettes include one puff bar can contain as much nicotine as 2 packs of cigarettes a day, and e-cigarettes can contain acrolein, a herbicide primarily used to kill weeds. According to hopkinsmedicine.org, “among youth, e-cigarettes are more popular than any traditional tobacco product. In 2015, the U.S. surgeon general reported that e-cigarette use among high school students had increased by 900%, and 40% of young e-cigarette users had never smoked regular tobacco.” In conclusion not only are e-cigarettes just as bad for you as good old fashion cigarettes, but they have become a cultural phenomenon. So let’s give a big round of applause to Juul for creating a generation of nicotine addicts.
2. Raw Water, It’s Like Water But Raw
Water- the thing your body is 60% made up of, as well as the thing Flint, Michigan still has a questionable relationship with. Besides that, water is great for you! Water is always the winner when it comes to the best liquid to consume for a healthy diet. The benefits of drinking water range from aiding in weight loss to boosting skin health, even your airways need water. To clarify, I’m talking about filtered water, so what then is raw water, and why are people drinking it? Raw water, a trend that started in Silicon Valley and gained popularity back in 2018, is basically expensive water that is unprocessed. That way the water retains essential vitamins and nutrients.
“The water is from a time when the earth was pristine and is estimated to have matured below the surface for up to 10,000 years before surfacing” claims Live Water, a company that produces raw water. Sounds great until you learn untreated water can make you very sick since it fails to remove bacteria, pesticides, parasites, and any other contaminant that could be in the water supply. So unless you want diarrhea, I would stick to filter water which can actually relieve constipation.
3. Sticking Rocks Where The Good Lord Split Ya
No surprise here, lifestyle guru and snake-oil salesman, Gwyneth Paltrow had a whole page devoted to the jade egg, which was posted on the Goop website. The post has since been taken down, but not before it turned the internet into a frenzy regarding the now-debunked health benefits of inserting a jade stone carved into an egg shape up your vagina. You read that right, sticking a stone up your vag, and by doing so was supposed to “increase vaginal muscle tone, hormonal balance and feminine energy in general” according to the post on the Goop website. Turns out none of this is true, and in 2018 the actress formerly known as Gwyneth Paltrow was slapped with a lawsuit over the bogus claims. The Goop company ended up settling, but not before paying a large sum of money in damages.
Despite all this, the bonkers jade egg trend is still somewhat in fashion. Why as recent as April 2019 Women’s Health published an article on the trend, where OB-GYN Kate White, MD, reminded us “there are no proven benefits of using a jade egg, but there are several risks.” Such as the egg being made of stone, which according to Dr. White means “the eggs are porous and can absorb bacteria, which means it’s not possible to fully clean them in between each use,” “so when you insert the egg into your vagina after the first use, you’re literally putting bacteria back into your body.” Um did someone say vaginal infection? Moral of the story, don’t eat tide pods kids, and definitely don’t shove jade stones up your vagina.
4. We All Scream For Diet Conscious Ice Cream
You can’t even walk down the freezer aisle anymore without seeing a wide variety of “healthy” ice cream products. Ice creams that are low in calories, making them the ideal choice for the dieter who wants to indulge in a guilt-free dessert. But how healthy are these ice creams really? First I like to point out that traditional ice cream is neither healthy nor unhealthy. According to spoonuniversity.com, “the health benefits of ice cream are that it provides more energy than whole milk at 137 Calories of energy according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is great for someone who is trying to gain weight,” while “ice cream is unhealthy because it is an energy dense food and has a high content of carbohydrates, sugar, and fat.”
So what about “healthy” ice cream? Well, it should be stated that most of these ice creams contain problematic ingredients such as propylene glycol, also known as antifreeze. Yum antifreeze, which compliments all the artificial sweeteners used in these ice creams splendidly. The artificial sweeteners are used in order to cut calories, which is no bueno because as nutritionist Isabel Smith described to Eat This, Not That!, “artificial sweeteners affect our sense of satiety.” Basically, this translates to satisfy your craving for ice cream with actual ice cream because choosing the “low-fat” substitute may have an adverse effect in the not so distant future.
5. Keeping Up With Toxic Celebrity Health Trends
I want to preface this next one by saying I absolutely adore Tiffany Hadish, and I have no ill will for my fellow libra sister Kim Kardashian. In fact, if I was ever in legal trouble and could afford Kim K the lawyer to represent me in court, I totally would! Here’s the thing though Hadish may be a comedic genius and Kardashian a beauty mogul, they are not doctors- they are celebrities. Which one should keep in mind when said celebs are promoting health trends or offering wellness advice.
For example, in 2018 BC (before COVID) Kardashian via Instagram made a post that promotes FlatTummy Appetite Suppressant Lollipops, and just like that these lollipops instantly became the must-try health trend amongst dieters. Too bad these lollipops don’t work, according to endocrinologist Rekha Kumar, MD, “putting [saffron] in a lollipop and telling people to eat it [isn’t] a healthy approach to weight loss, body image, or nutrition,” it can also lead to disordered eating.
Also in 2018, Tiffany Haddish gave an interview with GQ, where she lets us in on her go-to cure for the common cold, which is drinking turpentine. Haddish explained “a teaspoon of turpentine will not kill you,” “the government doesn’t want you to know that if you have a cold, just take some turpentine with some sugar or castor oil or honey and it’ll go away the next day.” For those who don’t know turpentine is a paint thinner, yet it still became a popular health trend in 2018 and through 2019. So much so after the GQ article about Haddish was published, Gizmodo felt obliged to put out an article titled “Please Don’t Drink Turpentine.” Among other things, I’ve second-hand embarrassment right now for the people in our country who had to be told not to ingest poisonous paint thinner.
6. Celery Juice, The Name Says It All
Celery juice, the word combo alone just oozes health, yet there is no scientific proof that drinking a glass of celery juice a day actually does what proponents of the green juice claim. The laundry list of fans of the “miracle” drink includes celebrities such as Maria Menounos, Miranda Kerr, Jennifer Aniston, and Selma Blair, but refer to debunked health trend number 5. These women are celebrities, not doctors. So how did this health trend become a global movement, partially due to author Anthony Williams aka one of the OG proponents of celery juice, he stated “celery juice can save your life.”
Celery juice has gained the reputation of being a cure-all miracle drink that can treat everything from chronic illness to depression. But again there is no substantial scientific evidence that supports this. Nutritionist Lisa R. Young noted in a post for NBC News, “there’s certainly no evidence to suggest that celery is a panacea for all that ails you. It’s even possible that by overemphasizing one green vegetable in your diet, you’re missing out on the health benefits of others.” With that being said drinking a glass of celery juice is never bad for you, just don’t expect it to treat all your ailments and stop you from drunk texting your ex-boyfriend.
7. Intermittent Fasting (time over distance equals a slim figure)
Okay, when I found out about this next one I will say I felt personally attacked since I’ve been intermittent fasting for the last year and a half. I’ve been doing so because I believe/believed intermittent fasting is/was a great and healthy way to lose weight. Yet it is my duty to bring you the facts, and unfortunately, the evidence is still out on the health trend. According to Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area, “intermittent fasting can be done in a way that’s healthy and sustainable, but I’ve talked with many people who are following the eating style and taking in way too little to sustain an active lifestyle.” Translation like everything intermittent fasting can be good in moderation, but taken to the extreme it can also be very dangerous due to its restrictive nature. Ultimately intermittent fasting can lead to overeating or binging, this can be especially dangerous for people who struggle with eating disorders.
In honor of keeping this positivity train going, people with diabetes, children, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not intermittent fast because it can be potentially harmful to them. Last but not least, athletes should be wary of this trend, this also includes people who like to break a sweat first thing in the morning. “I don’t like that people are often working out in the morning without any fuel,” “that’s a no-no,” says Barbie Boules, RDN of Barbie Boules Longevity Nutrition. Ugh, I’m prob still going to intermittent fast, and you can call me problematic all you want, but at least I’m not an anti-vaxxer. See what I did there, this little technique is called whataboutism, thank you, American politicians.
8. Kombucha Or Bacteria In A Cup
Man, this one also hurts, I love kombucha and I drink a glass of the sour-tasting liquid every morning. Since doing so I have just felt overall a lot better, I not only feel more awake, but I feel like I have more energy throughout my day. If I’m being completely honest though this might all just be in my head because as shallow as it may be, a big part of why I like drinking kombucha so much is that it makes me feel more elitist. Like I’m some kind of health guru among peasants. While simultaneously making me feel like a hipster overlord, for the reason of, I first started drinking kombucha all the way back in 2012 when I worked at a health food store during my sophomore year of high school. Granted the sole reason I had for drinking kombucha back then was that my dumb ass thought it get me buzzed, that way I could get a nice day drunk going during my shift, which I spent the majority of explaining how to pronounce quinoa to the customers. However, it turns out you’ll get sick before you get drunk off kombucha, but moving on.
I now consume kombucha for the right reasons, but after doing some research it seems the drink may not be as healthy as one would think. Sad sigh* All of the health benefits contributed to kombucha are mostly due to the probiotics found in the drink like lactobacillus, which is proven to help with irritable bowel syndrome, gastrointestinal conditions, reduce the side effects of antibiotics, and treat yeast infections.
Lactobacillus is important because the bacteria in lactobacillus is crucial to the balance of bacteria that live inside our bodies. Except there are over 500 different species of bacterias hanging out in your gut alone, and kombucha contains such a small amount of good bacteria your gut needs that drinking it makes really no significant difference in your health.
Besides that brewing kombucha at home can lead to illness due to high levels of acid, and contamination from fermentation. Kombucha does contain antioxidants since it is brewed from tea, and there are a plethora of reasons antioxidants are good for you like combating cancer as well as heart disease, but you can get the same amount of antioxidants drinking regular tea which is safer and alcohol-free.
Microbiologist Heather Hallen-Adams, an assistant professor in the food science and technology department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln talked to Vice for an article titled “Kombucha Isn’t Making You Any Healthier,” her advice was as followed, “if it’s a probiotic boost you’re seeking, Hallen-Adams recommends yogurt or kefir instead—it boasts more good bugs, has been more solidly linked to health benefits (including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, abnormal cholesterol levels, and obesity) and fewer risks.”