These Health Trends Are Not What You Think — And You’d Better Avoid Them
From diets, to workouts, to new therapies and procedures, everyone’s hawking the latest health trend that you just have to try. When it comes to the pursuit of self-care, we’re obsessed with being on top, but with so many options, how can we decide? More importantly, how can we discern between fact and fad? We’ve compiled a list of the health trend crazes that are wrong, suspicious, or downright dangerous.
1. Charcoal Toothpaste
If you’ve opened up Facebook or Instagram recently, it’s likely you’ve seen at least a couple of photos of people smearing black goop in their teeth. Proponents of activated charcoal toothpaste, which is just regular charcoal that has been preheated, claim that it releases toxins from teeth and removes stains. But there is not exactly a consensus on this health trend.
Some health professionals have noted that charcoal can actually be abrasive to the teeth, breaking down that important coating of enamel that keeps your teeth from getting deep stains. Furthermore, there just haven’t been enough studies done for evidence to be conclusive. Oftentimes, those pearly-white ‘after’ pictures are the result of other whitening techniques, not just from toothpaste.
2. Soul Cycle
What do you get when you combine spin class with a rave party, and an instructor that’s constantly yelling at you to ‘turn it up’? Soul Cycle has managed to turn this concoction into success, first opening doors in 2006 in New York City. Since then, they’ve spread across the United States, Canada, and the UK.
If the anxiety-inducing description of a Soul Cycle class somehow appeals to you, you might want to reconsider. Just ask a health professional, including one certified spin instructor with over 15 years experience who said it is extremely dangerous to incorporate upper body movements while simultaneously riding a bike, leaving your body vulnerable to lower back injuries.
3. Face Tattoos
Hardly a modern-day phenomenon, face tattooing has occurred throughout various civilizations since the beginning of time. In Rome, it was used to brand slaves who had attempted escape. In Maori tradition, face tattoos for men are an important tradition denoting family lineage and personal identity. For rapper Lil Wayne, they are a montage of symbols that represent different periods of his life.
Aside from the obvious, like securing a normal job or not wanting to be mistaken for a gang member or murderer, there are a number of reasons you might want to reconsider getting a face tat like your favorite musician. For one, as the most exposed part of your body, constant exposure to sunlight will make the ink on your face blur over time.
Don’t get too carried away, this particular trend doesn’t have anything to do with your bathroom schedule. Rather, the ‘no-poo method’, as it has been dubbed, advocates for ditching your hair care routine. Specifically, that means breaking up with those bottles of shampoo that you are probably using on a daily basis.
To be fair, no-poo advocates do not recommend ditching your hair care regimen altogether. Several websites and blogs (of which there are many) dedicated to this practice recommend switching to the all-natural combination of apple cider vinegar and baking soda. At the end of the day, the products we use are a choice — just make sure that your hygiene doesn’t affect your neighbor.
5. Skyscraper Parkour
Typically performed in urban spaces, parkour is a discipline that incorporates forms of military obstacle course training to navigate across an environment in the quickest way possible. Practitioners of this body fitness health trend utilize running, jumping, swinging, and virtually any technique necessary that is fast and functional.
At some point during the last few years, parkour enthusiasts turned things up a notch — literally — by switching their attention upward. Videos abound on social media showing death-defying thrill seekers leaping from rooftop to rooftop with no safety gear. Unsurprisingly, parkour has been the cause of dozens of deaths each year, oftentimes the result of a miscalculated jump.
6. Working Out As A Social Media Event
The allure of likes and new followers has virtually everyone in a frenzy to post these days. No matter where we are, be it at the beach, inside a restaurant, or sitting in traffic, we’re primed with our cell phones waiting for that picturesque moment. But for goodness’ sakes, turn your cameras off at the gym!
One minute you’re drenched in sweat having just finished a killer set of squats, and the next minute you’re dodging the person next to you so you’re not in the background of their gym selfie. Quick to post the best version of ourselves online, fitness instructors have stated recently that their clients are more interested in posting than achieving actual results.
Therapy dogs, yes! Therapy cats, sure! But therapy cows? Not so much. Dogs and cats have gotten some big competition in recent years with some farms across the US now offering cow-cuddling as a form of relaxation therapy. According to advocates, a cow’s lower heart rate will induce a mimicking affect from humans.
In spite of potential advantages to this oddball health trend, it is key to point out that there are plenty of alternatives that don’t require commuting to your local farm — not to mention far cleaner than a cow is likely to be. There are an endless amount of dogs and cats in shelters that could make for a more permanent cuddle buddy. Or, for the non-animal people, human touch will do just fine!
8. The Plasma Pen
With the cost per treatment ranging between a couple hundred to several thousand dollars, plasma therapy is one of the latest skin tightening trends to go mainstream, with proponents claiming to see results in a little over a week. It uses a penlike device to penetrate the outer skin layer, delivering protein-producing cells to rejuvenate the skin.
In the process of doing this, the pen creates micro-wounds in your face which essentially leave you looking like a leper for at least a week. After that time, the scabbing falls away, supposedly revealing a new you. In reality, in order to achieve results you will need to have multiple and consistent sessions, not to mention you might be embarrassed to be seen in public for a little while afterwards.
You might be tempted to try an e-cig or the alluring vape, with those thick, dramatic, billowing clouds of smoke. Some people try using these devices as a healthier alternative to smoking, others as a way to quit. The fact is that the best bet is to do it the old-fashioned way: cold turkey.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the United States reported 60 deaths caused by vape-related lung illnesses by January 2020. Little is known about the chemicals in vaping fluids, which is a primary concern. Of particular interest, however, is vitamin E acetate, which is used as a thickening agent in vaping liquid. It was found in every lung tissue sample extracted from the deceased.
10. Lip Injections
It’s hard to argue that lip injections have been the cosmetic procedure of choice during the 2010s. Some would say that this practice even made Kylie Jenner’s career before spreading to the masses. The most common method today is to inject a dermal filler with a substance similar to hyaluronic acid. This macabre health trend is a departure from using collagen and implants, which are far more risky.
Effects from the procedure typically last six months before additional injections are needed to maintain lip volume. In addition to being at risk for allergic reaction, infection, and permanent structural damage to your lips, the procedures are costly, at $500 to $2,000 dollars per session.
11. Teeth Whitening
There are so many teeth whitening treatments out there that it’s hard to quantify them all. One new trend that has infiltrated advertisements on social media is the LED whitening system. Perhaps you’ve seen an ad of a celebrity chomping on with what looks like a light-up mouthpiece, revealing their shockingly white smile seconds later.
The truth is that the celebrities and models we see on our screens actually receive multiple whitening treatments, perhaps in addition to their at-home LED kits; so don’t expect your results to be as dramatic. In a study by the Open Dentistry Journal, they found that whitening procedures performed by trained dentists are far more effective than any DIY home technique.
12. Appetite Suppressant Lollipops
In 2018, the ultimate social media influencer, Kim Kardashian, came under fire for promoting appetite-suppressing lollipops made by the company Flat Tummy. Kardashian, who is reportedly paid upwards of $250,000 per post on Instagram, called the pops ‘unreal’ and offered a promotion on her page directing readers to the company’s website.
In addition to coming under fire on Twitter and Instagram from past-sufferers of eating disorders, others flat out called her irresponsible for promoting such an unhealthy fad that is not a viable replacement for normal, healthy eating. Professional nutritionists have since called the lollipops unhealthy and full of sugar. You’re better off opting for fruits and veggies.
13. Ear Candles
Used as a form of alternative medicine to remove toxins and unclog the ear canal, ear candles are a cylindrical, candle-shaped device, with a pointed end that is inserted into the ear canal. Lighting the opposite end of the candle is supposed to create a vacuum effect that sucks excess ear wax and toxins out of the inner ear.
While advocates claim that the chunky yellow substance on the inside of the candle is physical evidence that the technique works, in tests, this residue was sometimes found to be remnants from the candles themselves. The FDA has not approved this health trend after thorough research. To make matters worse, on the extreme side, several people burned down their houses attempting this treatment.
14. Butt Implants
One of the greatest Hollywood taboos is admitting to having had work done. As such, it is difficult to confirm which celebrity butts have gone under the knife. We all have our suspicions, but one thing that cannot be disputed is that procedures focusing on the posterior have become increasingly common in the past few years.
Despite limited risk (the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery actually documented a 95.6 percent satisfaction rate among people surveyed), butt-enhancing procedures include all the risks typically associated with implants, including infection, scarring, and poor aesthetic results. With all of the new workouts focused on obtaining a bigger butt, there’s no reason not to do this through old-fashioned diet and exercise.
15. Not Wearing A Mask During A Pandemic
The outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020 has produced the year’s must-have fashion trend: the surgical mask. Indeed, stores have begun marketing their own stylish masks as an alternative to the traditional white hospital-looking ones. Whether we like it or not, face masks have become an essential and needed accessory to protect ourselves and our neighbors.
While it may be difficult to sway those who feel that the mask requirement is a first amendment violation, a new trend has emerged whereby people wear their masks underneath the nose and mouth, rendering it completely useless. The definition of paradoxical behavior, proper education, and encouragement needs to happen immediately to fix this growing trend.
16. Celery Juice
We’ve all seen the pictures. Like a strange-looking pool of algae served inside a crystal glass with a leafy garnish, celery juice has become one of the latest diet crazes. It’s claimed that it can cure autoimmune disease and aid the digestive process, in addition to being a low-calorie drink. Newsflash — it’s completely untrue!
In an interview with the New York Times, several leading doctors and nutritionists disavowed celery juice as being a cure-all for disease or a digestive supplement. But that doesn’t mean that the juice is bad for you. Celery contains more potassium and vitamin K than tomato juice, but is lacking in vitamin A found in carrot juice.
17. Face Masks
Had a tough day? There’s nothing that a facial mask and a couple slices of cucumber cannot fix — or so it would seem. In the elusive race to be at the forefront of self-care, traditional face masks might be America’s favorite at-home beauty procedure. The question that we’re most concerned with: do they really work?
According to one dermatologist from the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, face masks do work by driving ingredients closer into the skin compared to traditional face washing. There are a couple of tips that you should adhere to while shopping for your next mask, however. For safety sake, steer clear of masks with exotic ingredients and/or alcohol (which dries the skin).
18. Keto Diet
With an uncanny resemblance to the Atkins craze of the 1990s, the ketogenic diet is high in fats and proteins and low in carbohydrates. The ultimate goal is to force the body to release ketones into the bloodstream to break down stored fats, instead of the typical method of relying on circulating sugars or glucose, which comes from carbs.
While studies have shown that the keto diet can reduce seizures in children, and could potentially be used to ward off brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, there is no evidence that a keto diet is a healthy alternative to balanced eating. The fact that the diet is so hard to keep, and reliant on unhealthy foods, should be huge red flags for anyone planning to follow this health trend in the long run.
19. Shake Weight
Aided by viral infomercials and promotions that just look, well, funny, the shake weight became a popular exercise accessory shortly after its 2009 debut. The weight itself looks like a traditional dumbbell that sways back and forth as you workout, shaking your way to a solid burn. Advertisements claim that the shake weight is more effective for building muscle and burning calories, compared to traditional methods.
A 2011 study by Consumer Reports found that in terms of burning calories, walking at a constant speed of 3 miles per hour is more effective than using a shake weight. In regards to building muscle, it was determined far inferior to traditional workouts. Combine poor results with the overall awkwardness of this fad and you can rest assured knowing that this is one workout to avoid this summer.
20. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a new diet (or lack of diet) that exists in many forms. No matter how you slice it, it requires not eating for long periods of times (sometimes over 24 hours), followed by a binge meal or hyper eating to make up for lost calories. Some individuals even combine their intermittent fasting with keto or paleo-based diets.
The American Heart Association has performed studies on intermittent fasting which show that it may aid weight loss, and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes for healthy adults. On the other hand, it can be dangerous for people who are more vulnerable — namely the elderly, children, and those who are underweight. With a myriad of potential side effects, it is advised to avoid this health trend and to stick to a well-balanced diet.
21. Dopamine Fasting
Dopamine is the chemical in our brains that is activated when something good happens to us, or when we feel rewarded. Scientists don’t all agree on exactly how or why it is released, but you definitely experience a dopamine rush from watching TV and movies, eating fast food, or exercising, to name just a few stimuli.
With so many triggers in the modern world, some have elected to choose entire periods of avoiding fun completely in order to counter the effect of too much stimulation. The idea is that by allowing ourselves to feel bored, and by engaging in simpler, more old-fashioned activities, we can regain control of our lives. While sensible, most medical professionals suggest that less extreme measures will have a more positive outcome, like daily meditation or exercise.
22. Not Vaccinating
Properly termed vaccine hesitancy, there is a growing group of people who are reluctant or outright refuse to have their children vaccinated against contagious diseases like mumps, measles, and smallpox. The hesitancy expressed by anti-vaxxers is often the result of mistrust in vaccines in general, or lack of faith in the greater healthcare system.
Some proponents of not vaccinating have even claimed that vaccines are the cause of genetic disorders like autism and Down syndrome. In spite of these theories, no scientific evidence has supported the theory that vaccines cause disease or illness. In fact, not vaccinating puts children who are too young to be vaccinated at increased risk of catching a slew of serious and even fatal diseases.
23. Biometric Everything
Whether using our fingerprints to clock in at work, facial recognition to open our phones, or a digital heart monitor to tell us our workout metrics, chances are that we use at least one type of biometric technology on a daily basis. While convenient, adversaries would argue that there is serious potential for misuse.
All of the data being collected on our phones goes straight from our applications to corporations, where it can be bought and sold or stolen on the dark web. This includes health data. Whether fan or foe, it is important to consider the dark side of companies knowing your heart rate, blood pressure, and facial profile, on a near real-time basis.
24. Tapeworm Pills
No, this is not a joke. There is actually a rather nasty health trend in the form of a diet that calls for swallowing a pill with a tapeworm egg inside. The egg will eventually hatch, resulting in having a real, live tapeworm living your gut. Once inside your body, the tapeworm thrives off of eating the nutrients that you put into your body.
Tapeworms are incredibly dangerous because they can cause severe nutrient deficiency (and extreme weight loss). Also, because you cannot control where the tapeworm attaches itself, you run the risk of organ and tissue damage. The FDA has banned all production of tapeworm pills, but if you happen to get your hands on some, do not eat them!
To be technical, a microdose is a drug typically administered at a level that is about 100 times lower than a normal, therapeutic dose (somewhere in the range of 1 to 100 micrograms). Recently, much attention has focused on intentionally taking small amounts of psychedelic substances, like LSD or psilocybin mushrooms (sometimes called ‘magic’ mushrooms).
Microdosers are generally looking to this method as a way of improving creativity, increasing energy levels, and sometimes as a means of curing depression or addiction. While some people have reported achieving desired results, the evidence is largely inconclusive. Because these substances are illegal in most countries, not enough is known to determine potential risk and reward.