5 popular health trends I don’t buy into

1. Collagen-mushroom-potion-infused-bulletproof-caffeinated beverages

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Seems like it’s mega on-trend to whip up $12 lattes filled with grass-fed collagen, 8 different mushroom powders, and 17 other expensive supplement potion/powders these days.

It’s not that I have anything against those drinks; in fact I can appreciate the creativity behind them and recognize that they may be filling if they’re brimming with fats and protein powders. I simply don’t really buy into the grandiose health-promoting claims of these concoctions.

First, let’s talk about collagen. I’ve been digging through clinics research about it and am planning a whole post devoted just to collagen. But to keep it short and sweet in this post, let’s just say that from what I’ve read so far, I’ve concluded that if you’re into collagen and your diet lacks protein, it can be a source of protein for you.

But I’m not yet convinced that after orally digesting collagen and your stomach acid has broken it down, that it can actually maintain its structural integrity as collagen and end up in your skin and hair and nails as such.

There is some mixed clinical research on collagen and joint health, and a couple of studies on collagen and beauty (some of which have been funded by collagen supplement companies), but at this point in my PubMed dive, I feel the research is a bit shaky.

So I guess my point is, if you like it and it makes you happy, go for it, just don’t be surprised if you don’t reverse age 10 years and wake up with a new shiny mane of hair and less cellulite.

Next, there’s the mushroom and potion supplement trend. A lot of people ask me about supplements. I always say that decent supplements can be helpful for certain populations that may be at risk of micronutrient deficiencies at certain life stages. I even occasionally take a B12 supplement.

The problem with dietary supplements is that they are not regulated and not required to endure clinical testing before entering the market. Many purity trials have revealed many supplements are impure, or even worse, contaminated with dangerous materials including heavy metals like arsenic, lead and mercury.

Then of course, there’s the no-safety-testing-required aspect, meaning supplements are only regulated or taken off the market for safety issues if the FDA gets enough complains. This is why popular Hydroxycut was taken off the shelves: people were literally dying and suffering from liver disease from the weight loss supplement. Yikes!

So yes: supplements are still unfortunately, very tricky to navigate in terms of safety or efficacy as a consumer or even as a nutrition scientist. Hence why I’m in no mood to shell out tons of money on them if there’s no proven health benefit, let alone if I am unsure if it can do more harm than good.

In conclusion, if you like potion-filled lattes and they work for you and make you happy, by all means, go for them. But if you’re limited on money and looking for proven ways to improve your health, I’d suggest investing in fruits, veggies, and grains instead.

2. The “fruit-has-sugar-so-it’s-bad-for-you” mentality.

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Can someone please tell me when fruit became an enemy? I feel like I missed that day of the universe.

Here are the facts on fruit and sugar: yes, fruit contains natural sugars. But these are all sugars that your body is equipped to break down and use for energy. Fruit also contains fiber, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and a bounty of micronutrients, all of which can be beneficial.

Obviously, eating too much of anything isn’t good for you. People have literally died from over-consuming water. But I genuinely believe that fruit can be a beneficial part of a healthful diet.

Also, it’s frickin’ delicious and satisfying. When I have a sweet tooth after lunch or in the afternoon, often times a piece of fruit + some nut butter does the trick.

So when people ask me if I think I eat too much fruit, I say no. I personally eat around 3-5 servings in a day, and it works for me. I think it’s wonderful and honestly prefer it to a lot of sweetened foods. There are so many other things I’d worry about before I’d worry about eating multiple servings of fruit in a day.

In conclusion, fear not the fruit basket!

3. Keto

Easy Homemade Pistachio Butter

When did keto become cool? Much like the anti-fruit trend mentioned above, I’m confused as to how people were able to market ketogenesis into a trendy diet.

In brief, ketogenesis is a metabolic process that produces acetone, acetoacetate, and beta-hydroxybutyrate molecules by breaking down fatty acids.

Under normal circumstances, your body gets most of its energy from breaking down carbohydrates stored as glycogen in the muscle and liver. When you’re in a phase of starvation or extreme carbohydrate restriction and your carbohydrate stores are significantly decreased, ketogenic pathways take over to produce ketone bodies to feed your brain and other organs energy in place of glucose.

Now, even without going too into depth on all the biochemistry involved in metabolism during starvation (which I’m happy to delve into in a different post, if you’re interested), you may notice a few things.

First, this is a survival mechanism for starvation. Second, your stores of carbohydrates in your body have to be significantly depleted to actually achieve ketosis, which is actually a rather difficult thing to accomplish for most people not on highly-restricted diet, which is why I’m confused as to why so many people think they are “keto” just because they eat a high-fat meal once in a while.

It’s also worth mentioning that ketone bodies are highly acidic, and if you have an excess of ketone bodies in your blood for an extended period of time, you risk overwhelming your body’s buffing system, which can lead to blood acidosis, which can be dangerous, and lead to fatigue, loss of appetite, decreases in blood pressure, headache, and other unpleasant symptoms.

Now, I must mention that carefully-advised keto diets can be have been shown to be beneficial for some with epilepsy and a few other extreme health circumstances. And in that case, pursing a keto diet for medical reasons as advised by a healthcare provider may be helpful for some.

But for the majority of healthy individuals, I would suggest finding a more sustainable and diverse dietary pattern that includes carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant foods, rather than a mega-low-carb-high-fat-fix.

4. Juice Cleanses

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More on that here. Long-story short: save your money on this gimmick, and invest in healthy, satisfying groceries instead!

Also since I never drink juices or smoothies (just don’t love them personally), I have zero pics of them, so make believe that these bananas are juice. Thanks!

5. Non-GMO everything

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Controversy alert! I’m not anti-GMO. In fact, for certain instances, I actually support genetic modification of foods. In case you didn’t know, there really isn’t a solid definition of what a “GMO” is, and/or any regulation around the use of a “Non-GMO” or “GMO-free” label.

This might be part of the reason why there’s so much darn confusion about GMOs. A lot of people mistake genetic modification or alteration of plants with other plant-growing techniques like cross-breeding, which if you think about it, is kind of like cross-breeding a dog and having a mutt.

Another point of frequent confusion is about the number of GMO crops out there. In terms of species, there are actually very few genetically modified crops on the market. Yes, they usually happen to be the big ones (like soy, corn, wheat, etc). But due to import/export standards and the hefty (think multi-million/billions) dollar process GMO-approval requires, most plant-crops that are not staple crops are not actually genetically modified (contrary to what some “health’ bloggers will tell you).

GMOs have also been useful – the process essentially save the papaya from extinction when it became threatened by disease. They have also helped create weather and pest-resistant crops that have improve crop yields, and have been altered to add life-saving micronutrients in staple crops to combat deficiencies in areas of need.

But not many people talk about these facts. They mostly talk about the fear that they may somehow cause harm to your body, despite the fact that the FDA, WHO, AMA, and the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (among other major scientific and medical associations) have all declared them safe for consumption based on the plethora available scientific information.

While I can understand being skeptical of people tinkering with the genes in our food, going completely GMO-free is insanely difficult, and much like worrying about sugar from fruit, not something I think is worth stressing upon.

In Conclusion…

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Be skeptical about fad diets, and health information that comes from for-profit entities or public figures.

Fads and diet trends come and go. But fruits, veggies, and other less “glamorous” health foods like nuts and beans never go out of style.

If you’re looking to improve your health, make friends with plant-foods, aim to reduce your stress, and make sure you’re sleeping enough. Aim for a sustainable dietary pattern that works for your body, financial situation, and lifestyle. Food should be a source of physical and psychological nourishment, so strive for it to play that role in your life, rather than a financial or emotional stressor.

Eat and be well!

6 thoughts on “5 popular health trends I don’t buy into

  1. Thank you! I love all of this and agree with you. It is refreshing to hear this common sense perspective for a change.

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