Debunking the latest fads – Which health trends are worth your time
Writer and de-bunker-extraordinaire Timothy Caulfield dropped by The Goodsto talk about health and wellness trends. There are so many crazy, and maybe not-so-crazy trends popping up everyday, and Timothy even bravely tested some of them on himself so you don't have to!
One of the hottest wellness trends right now is to ingest charcoal in ice cream, smoothies etc. or absorb it in your skin through topicals in makeup, masks and cleansers.
Claims: Charcoal supposedly absorbs toxins, cleans out your liver, and removes impurities in your body.
Thoughts: There is actually no evidence that this kind of detoxing works. It feels like it should work because we think of charcoal water filters, but our bodies don't work the same way.
Men drinking breast milk
It's exactly as it sounds. It now even has an emerging black market. It's also sold online, and in lattes at festivals.
Claims: It's supposed to be a superfood that contains healthy properties, and can be used as a recovery/energy drink, particularly for weight lifters who take it as a supplement. It's billed as naturally nutritious. One man even lived off his wife's breast milk for a year!
Thoughts: Absurd! There is no evidence to support the health claims. But there could also be harms and risks involved: is it infected, how was it preserved etc. With no regulation you have no idea what you're getting.
This is a new phenomenon found mostly in Japan. The idea behind it is that we were swaddled as kids to comfort us, so this is a way to deal with the anxiety and stress of everyday life. It's gaining popularity. You get totally wrapped up, and rock back and forth as a way to sort of "return to the womb."
Claims: It's supposed to help you to reset, relax, rejuvenate, and recuperate.
Thoughts: There are no studies or evidence to support this. But it is a good excuse for some weird quiet time.
Cryo-chambers are a growing trend, especially with celebrities and athletes. You are placed in a chamber that is -152 degrees Celcius for three minutes.
Claims: It draws blood to where you need it, improves sleep, depression, and injuries. They claim that, like icing an injury, the cold has a healing effect.
Thoughts: Someone died in a cryochamber in the US from suffocation, and some athletes have frozen their toes – not to mention the shrinkage. It's a dramatic feeling but there is no evidence to support it yet. There is clinical research being done now but there still isn't enough to support it, and Health Canada warns against its use.
Stem cell injections
This is the process of injecting stem cells from your own body or those from other sources (i.e. from other people) to other parts of the body. It's a worldwide trend gaining traction in many areas and it's used by many practitioners.
Claims: Helps healing and regeneration.
Thoughts: While it's an exciting area of science and seems promising we are not there yet! Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon – Timothy calls it Scienceploitation. Everyone wants to be cutting edge but it's all marketing and hype and most importantly, totally unproven. It could also be harmful because you cannot trust where the samples come from, so it's best to wait on this one and let the science catch up.
The power of celebrity endorsements
For better health, insert a jade egg into your vagina, as found on Gwyneth Paltrow's website, Goop.
Claims: Insert into the vagina for pelvic and vaginal health and to stay in shape sexually. This practice is said to be a secret method from Chinese royalty. The egg is also said to harness the power of energy (chi) and the power to spiritually detox, and empower.
Thoughts: There is no evidence and it's a bad idea. The vagina is a self-cleaning unit and doesn't need any extra help. The egg can even be dangerous because jade is porous and can retain nasty germs that can give you an infection or affect the delicate pH balance of your body. Despite scientists calling her out publicly, the rocks sold out and keep being restocked on Gwyneth's site. The power of celebrity!
Magnetic face masks
It's a clay mask you put on your face and it's removed with a magnetic wand. Madonna endorses it!
Claims: It's touted as an anti-aging remedy that detoxes, relieves joint pain, and revitalizes.
Thoughts: Magnets have held the public's fascination for centuries, so there is an intuitive appeal. Therefore it's easy to make the leap that magnets create energies and draw out impurities. But there is no actual evidence to back these claims up.
This is part of a long line of "tea-toxes" touted by the Kardashians.
Claims: Tea that has the power to cleanse, energize, boost metabolism and aid in weight loss and detoxing the body.
Thoughts: More silliness. There is a prevailing myth that you need to help your body detox, and you don't. If you see the word detox on a product it's likely bunk. The tea itself isn't harmful, it just doesn't have any magical qualities – so feel free to enjoy it but don't hope for a good outcome.