From vegetable juice, Zumba classes, to the newest ‘magic’ vitamin, we can’t desist from a new health fad – a study has found that we squander almost £800 a year on new supplements, fitness classes and diet foods. ‘Most people look for a magic bullet,’ says Sian Porter, of the British Dietetic Association. ‘In turn they get more confused.’
Fads usually conflict with themselves – for example, high-sugar fruit juices are seen with disdain – still the most popular diet trends right now is juicing. Moreover, these trends are far from being good for our health, and may even make it worse, say experts. Here, they uncover the health fads they would want to banish…
Celebrities like Andy Murray to Gwyneth Paltrow love hot yoga — doing yoga in a studio heated to a sweaty 40c. It boosts blood flow, in turn raise your heart rate — so you are more likely to push your joints beyond their natural stop-point, warns physiotherapist Sammy Margo. ‘I’ve witnessed severe injuries to knees caused by a certain yoga pose, named virasana —- it involves sitting in a prayer-type position, knees bent, with legs pushed out either side of your bottom.’
The latest fad this year has been to cut down on sugar — but the alternatives to sugar are far from good, warns Sian Porter. ‘It makes me angry when things like nectar, honey, raw sugar, cane sugar, or fruit syrup are dubbed as ‘healthy’ sugar — your body can hardly sense the difference between these and boring old white sugar.’ ‘ They are processed no differently, and they still count as added sugar.’ ‘Sadly, they add up more calories than white sugar.’
NO FOOD AFTER 6PM
Zero food intake from 6pm till bed-time is a newest weight-loss trick. It does stop you from over-eating, but in turn leave you sleep-deprived — specially if you like to burn the midnight oil. ‘Eating 3 hours before bed-time, is ideal.’ says independent sleep researcher Dr Neil Stanley. ‘Any more than that and you could well be too hungry to sleep.’
Many a slimmers sip herbal tea or hot water with lemon to stay clear of calories-laden milky tea or snacks. ‘It may cut calories, but could cause trouble to teeth because the acid in them is erosive — lemon, specifically, is very acidic,’ says Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association. Enamel (the protective outer layer) begins to break down at a microscopic level whenever the mouth is too acidic, finally causing painful and sensitive teeth.
We generally believe that supplements help protect against disease and boost immunity. ‘They in fact raise the risk of disease, says pharmacist Aidan Goggins, an expert in nutritional medicine. ‘Most supplements pack vitamin E in high-doses — that in turn is linked to higher risk of heart disease and cancer.’
DIY TOOTH WHITENING
We use certain homemade recipes to whiten teeth — which are made from highly acidic or abrasive ingredients – and in reality turn teeth more yellow as the outer enamel becomes worn away, says Professor Eder. ‘A common recipe is mixing together acidic fruits such as strawberries or lemon juice with salt or sand crystals to form a paste, and rubbing that on your teeth.’ ‘For a short while teeth appear whiter, but as the the abrasive, acidic slurry rubs off dirt that makes teeth look darker.’
Fitness monitors and mobile phone apps you use to track your sleep are just 30-35 per cent accurate,’ says Dr Neil Stanley, who runs The Sleep Consultancy. ‘They are capable of detecting motion to discern if you’re asleep and what sleep stage you’re in based on how much you’re moving — but the accurate way to sense this for certain is to monitor brain activity and eye movement.’ And your sleep problems escalate with worrying excessively about a reading that tells you your sleep quality is poor.
PS… SOME CRAZES ARE SENSIBLE
In case of exercise, however, it is good to be a bit faddy — in the sense of slashing and altering what you do, says physiotherapist Sammy Margo. ‘I vouch for frequently switching fads — if you keep to the same thing, your body gets used to it and you reach a plateau. ‘If you feel that the routine exercise is turning easy, you should think of mixing it up to challenge your muscles. ‘If you normally walk 20 minutes, switch to 40 minutes every other day, or try mixing in a cycle ride.’