New health fads pop up every day, and there's never a shortage of people jumping on the bandwagon.
But how much do we really know about how good or bad these health trends are? You may be surprised to learn that some of these health fads can actually hurt you.
The number of Americans who are gluten-free has tripled in the last decade. If you're not allergic to it, toxicologist Amitava Dasgupta says avoiding it could be harmful.
"If you don't have gluten allergy, there is no need to go for gluten-free food," Dasgupta said.
Low-gluten diets are linked to Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as deficiencies in iron, folate and fiber.
Juicing can be dangerous too. Juices are packed with calories and sugar, with none of the fiber in whole fruit. Research shows juicing ups the risk of high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
"There is no scientific evidence that juice can cleanse the body from toxins," Dasgupta said.
Doctors also worry about the rise of coconut oil, a saturated fat.
"First of all, it's a source of fat and calories that most people don't need. It just makes you fat," St. Louis University professor emeritus Dr. Jim Shoemaker said.
It also causes a toxic reaction in the liver. Shoemaker says your body is actually programmed to defend against it.
"I think taking extra coconut oil is not a good idea," he said.
He doesn't think vitamins and supplements are a good idea either.
"I think people really might be exposing themselves to dangers by taking excess vitamins," Shoemaker said.
Excess vitamins make proteins less soluble in cellular fluid, leading to protein aggregation.
"When the proteins aggregate or stick to each other or 'misfold', that causes diseases like Alzheimer's and, interestingly, also diseases like Type 2 diabetes," he said.
Unless you're deficient in a vitamin and your doctor prescribes it to you, "it's probably not wise to take these extra supplements and vitamins."
We spoke to several medical experts and they all agreed that most people get plenty of vitamins and minerals from their diet and do not need to take supplements at all unless they have a true vitamin deficiency.
HEALTH TRENDS THAT HURT? REPORT #2649
BACKGROUND: Dieting has become an important part of life, but the problem with the fad diet is that the weight just doesn't stay off. Fad diets are followed because they seem to work and work fast. The truth is that any diet can help someone lose weight. Around 85 percent of people can lose weight while they are dieting, but the fad diet only allows for about 15 percent of people to keep that weight off. The problem is that it took time to add the extra weight, it's going to take time to get that weight off in a healthy way. It can actually be dangerous to lose a lot of weight quickly. The gallbladder is often the most susceptible piece of equipment in the human body to fast weight lost. Stones can develop which may cause inflammation or a blockage. That might require a surgery and then suddenly your liver is dumping bile directly into your digestive tract instead. (Source: https://healthresearchfunding.org/23-exceptional-fad-diet-statistics/)
WHY FAD DIETS DON'T WORK: Being overweight is simply a combination of genetics, poor eating habits, and a sedentary lifestyle. It isn't a specific hormone that is causing the weight gain and there isn't a specific food group that is doing it. However, that doesn't mean you can't use a fad diet to kick start a weight loss plan. It just means you've got to be smart about what diet you choose to follow. You might not even start by dieting, but by increasing the amount of exercise that you get every day. Just 45 minutes of exercise per day will eliminate 500 calories from your lifestyle which is enough to lose 1 pound per week for many people. Instead of spending money for fad diets, spend money on yourself. Invest in a physical activity that you love and reward yourself. There are downfalls with fad diets like making your body feel much more fatigued and unmotivated. The problem is our bodies need foods from all the food groups, even grains and fats. One of the bigger problems with fad diets is that they often encourage changes to your eating habits and miss the mark on encouraging healthy exercise, which in turn can cause muscle loss and slow metabolism. Most fad dieters quickly put their weight back on after they stop dieting because it is simply not a long-term weight loss solution. Studies have shown that yo-yo dieting is actually associated with a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and overall mortality. (Source: https://healthresearchfunding.org/23-exceptional-fad-diet-statistics/ and https://www.rd.com/health/diet-weight-loss/fad-diets/)
SUNLIGHT IS KEY FOR WEIGHT LOSS: A new study, by researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, reveals an unexpected culprit for winter weight gain: the absence of sunlight. The researchers, who were led by Peter Light from the Alberta Diabetes Institute, examined the effect of sunlight on subcutaneous fat cells, or white fat cells that can be found right beneath our skin. Light, and team, examined the so-called subcutaneous white adipose tissue (scWAT), which, as the authors explain, is the "major fat depot in humans and a central player in regulating whole body metabolism." White fat is known as the "bad" type of fat, because it stores calories that are ideally burned for energy. If dysfunctional, this type of fat can lead to cardiometabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. So, in an attempt to help people with type 1 diabetes, Light and colleagues were working on a way to genetically engineer these white fat cells to produce insulin when exposed to light. They accidentally discovered that scWAT cells tend to shrink under the effect of the sun's blue light (the visible type of light that boosts attention and mood during the day). (Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320592.php)