It’s difficult to not get swept up in the hype of a health trend. Especially when stars like Nicole Richie fanatically follow trends like drinking juices, or Johnny Depp puffs away on an e-cigarette.
There are many health trends around, but how safe are they? Health24 takes a closer look at some of the biggest trends and separates the wheat from the chaff.
Our lives are sometimes so busy; it’s difficult to consume all the required fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Juicing is the latest trend where you simply blend your favourite fruit and vegetables and enjoy a glass of pure nutrients – or so you think. While the extracted liquid does contain a lot of vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals, experts say it is better to consume the whole fruit or vegetable.
“Much of the good fibre is lost in the process,” says Theresa Marais, a registered dietitian in private practice. “This is necessary for the gut and to prevent constipation. People also add too many things such as yogurt and protein powders into the mix,” Marais told Health24.
Similar to juicing, there are many cleansing diets on the market. The idea that you can "wash away" all the fast foods and lack of exercise by avoiding specific foods and drinking juices has become an entrenched belief in many people. Most of these diets revolve around the notion that toxins build up in the body and therefore to avoid ingesting toxins you should only eat certain foods.
This practice of avoidance can lead to your body not getting all the nutrients it needs, and a recent study published in the Journal of Family Practice found that cleanses do little for overall health. Detoxifying can actually have harmful side-effects such as an increased risk of infection and changes in electrolytes, which can be dangerous if you have a heart or kidney disease.
Around 6,3 million South Africans smoke cigarettes, and despite efforts from government to reduce this number smoking is still responsible for about 44 000 deaths annually. As a result, popularity of the electronic cigarette, or E-cigarette, has been on the rise. These battery-operated devices heat liquid containing nicotine, turning it into vapour, which is then inhaled. Studies done by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the USA have, however, found traces of toxic chemicals, including cancer-causing substances (carcinogens) in some brands.
4. Low fat or fat-free is better
With the rise of the Banting way of eating, most of us know that some fats are good for our bodies, but for many it’s still difficult to resist the temptation to go for low fat or fat-free products. But sometimes “fat-free” is also “taste-free”, and to make up for these manufacturers tend to add other ingredients – such as sugar, flour and salt.
“Healthy fats found in food such as pressed olive oil and certain nuts contain substances that help lower bad cholesterol,” says Marais.