When a health trend sweeps across the scene, and everyone is excited about all its supposed benefits, it can be easy to get caught up in the hype. You might even decide to try the trend yourself — and see how it goes. But it's important to keep in mind that many
health trends do more harm than good, while others aren't all they're cracked up to be.
To spare yourself, you can learn how to "spot a potentially harmful health trend by asking yourself these questions,"
Michele Sidorenkov, RDN, tells Bustle. First, does the trend revolve around a plan that requires you to buy a book, supplement, or subscription? Second, is the trend restrictive? Third, is it a quick fix, or something that promotes lifelong health? And lastly, is it being promoted by medical professionals or an individual with legitimate credentials?
Asking yourself these questions can help you figure out if the trend is based in legitimate and healthy advice, or if it's just a passing fancy. Usually, if it
seems too good to be true, if you need to buy a product, or if the trend has strict rules, it may not be safe. Read on for a few health trends that can potentially do more harm than good, according to experts.
Extreme Exercise Routines
Many workout trends tout the benefits of hitting the gym hard — such as
high intensity interval training, or HIIT — and for long periods of time. But doing so isn't always a good idea.
"Unless you’re preparing for a fitness competition and literally 'sculpting' your body [...] you do not need to workout for any longer than 30-60 minutes,"
Dr. Lisa N. Folden, licensed physical therapist and naturopathic lifestyle coach, tells Bustle. Intense exercise can also put unnecessary strain on your body, and even lead to inflammation.
"Working out should be for short to moderate durations, increasing the heart rate, breaking a sweat, and challenging your strength and flexibility," Dr. Folden says. "Too much of anything is a bad thing, [and] that includes exercise."
Charcoal is in seemingly everything these days. And while it may be fine to put on your face in the form of a
scrub or a mask, you may not want to use it as a toothpaste.
"Activated charcoal is an
extremely abrasive product that works to scrape away the outer surface of our teeth, which damages the enamel," Dr. Daniel Naysan D.D.S., tells Bustle. Ironically, he says, your tooth enamel is actually what's responsible for keeping teeth white.
"So by scraping it away, it in turn makes teeth more yellow and dull," Dr. Naysan says. "Once enamel is destroyed, it cannot grow back, making teeth more sensitive and prone to severe health issues." And that's
not what you want.
"In an effort to quit smoking, many people have taken up the trend of using e-cigarettes instead," Dr. Cara Pensabene, of
EHE Health, tells Bustle. But are they actually as safe as they seem?
"Although cigarette smoking is the
leading cause of early death in the United States today, e-cigarettes may not be much better," Dr. Pensabene says. "They’ve only been on the market since 2006, and the long-term health risks are still unknown." We just don't have enough information yet to really know for sure.
What we do know, though is that "many of them contain toxins and other harmful ingredients," she says. "If you’re trying to quit smoking, instead of buying a trendy vape, look into a support group or course that can help you manage your nicotine withdrawal."
Douching is a trend that suggests we need to "clean" the vagina, with the use of sprays that "refresh" you from the inside out. But douching "can change pH of [the] vagina cavity resulting in itching, irritation, and bacterial vaginosis,"
Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, family and emergency doctor, tells Bustle. So you'll definitely want to skip this trend.
If you do have a persistent odor that seems out of the ordinary, or are concerned for your health, let a doctor know. As Dr. Nesheiwat says, they can conduct a pelvic exam to see if you have something going on that requires treatment.
While vitamins can definitely be beneficial for some people, and they may end up being an important part of your overall lifestyle, you definitely don't want to rely on vitamins alone for all of your nutrients.
"Eating a good well-balanced diet should allow enough of the vitamins and minerals needed for normal body function," Dr. Nesheiwat says. "Even too much of a good thing can backfire. For example, too much vitamin C may
result in kidney stones."
If you're wondering which vitamins you need to take, and how much for each, ask your doctor. They can assess your overall health and help you pick out the right ones, so you don't overdo it.
While kegel exercises have been given the spotlight, as a way to strengthen up your pelvic floor, the reality is not everyones needs to (or should) do them.
In fact, "a lot of women [...] with pelvic pain, prolapse, or incontinence actually have [an] overactive pelvic floor and kegels make the condition worse," women's health expert
Dr. Chitra Mittal, tells Bustle. "On top of that, [many] that perform kegels are doing them incorrectly, confusing them with simple butt squeezes."
If you have a health concern that kegel exercises can improve, your doctor can tell you how to do them properly. But you may not want to do them just for the sake of doing them, since they aren't helpful for everyone.
When it comes to trends, it's important to keep in mind there aren't cure-alls or quick ways to get good health. So while it'd be nice to see improvements by following these health trends, many of them aren't useful — and others may even
do more harm than good.