by Vivian Morellon

Magic concoctions, charcoal activated everything, and restricted eating habits – bye bye gluten! With so many diets and food information, it’s too easy to jump on any new trend that can fix our weigh and health frustrations – as quickly as possible. Willing to try any new a loophole, we are quick to adopt any new tip or trick.

Whilst many health tips are, in fact, tips to a better you some can be riskier than others- especially when they’re sold and marketed with so little information on them.

So, here are 2019’s most popular health fads; what are they, how do they work, and are they actually healthy?

Water Cleanse

Or as we call it in my family – crazy talk.

The water cleanse is pretty straightforward: you simply restrict everything (except water) for a period commonly lasting between 1-3 days. The idea is that you allow your body to detox, reboot, and allow it to use up all the stored fat – an efficient and quick weight loss diet.

The health claims? DETOX DETOX DETOX. Because it’s meant to be a cleanse, many people believe it aids kidney function, clears up skin, and improves digestion. It also helps lower blood pressure, and may lower the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Another claim is that water fasting promotes autophagy, which is when your body breaks down and recycles old parts of your cells that aren’t working as well.

But… is it safe for everyone and are the benefits long term?

Fasting has been safely done by many before (prepping for surgery, religious fasting, a type of intermittent fasting etc.); however, it shouldn’t be jumped into it if you don’t know your current health state before attempting to skip meals for such a long time. For example, seniors, people with gout, with low-blood pressure, diabetes (both 1 and 2), chronic kidney disease, eating disorders, pregnant women, and children should not attempt this diet.

For more information on water cleansing or if you’d like to try with guidance, check out TrueNorth Healing Center.

Intermittent Fasting

Here’s how it works: when we eat, our bodies break down food into enzymes that are stored in the gut and eventually end up in our bloodstream. Foods like carbohydrates are broken down into sugars (glucose) which with the help of Insulin can be absorbed by the cells and used for energy. However, if you don’t use up all the glucose (with physical activity for example), insulin then stores all those sugars as fat in our cells – you know, for safekeeping.

Intermittent fasting works because it allows our body’s insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we start burning the stored fat.

Popularized by some health influencers, intermittent fasting is more up my alley because it allows us to manage healthy sugar levels and shows sustainable, long-term benefits. It focuses less about how much to eat more about HOW to eat.

While there are many methods to approach fasting, the most common is the 16/8 method – or the Leangains protocol – which restricts eating to only 8 hours a day. Example: if your first meal is at 10 am then the last meal should be at 6 pm, allowing for a 16 hour fast.

Allowing your body to use up excess sugars, intermittent fasting not only helps you lose weight but actually improves one’s metabolic rates. It regulates insulin levels (preventing Type 2 Diabetes), promotes cellular repair, reduces inflammation, and promotes autophagy – providing protections against diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The Celery Juice Cleanse

Celery juicing has been around for a while, but has recently been popularized thanks to Anthony Williams, a.k.a the Medical Medium. Since then, celery has been all the craze.

There is not extensive research – mostly viral testimonials encouraged by health and wellness influencers. However, the magic behind celery juicing can be attributed to the undiscovered sodium subgroups, called cluster salts, that might have the ability to kill of pathogens.

Pathogens, can be bacteria or viruses that can lead to a variety of infections. Drinking celery and consuming cluster salts might fight a number of problems such as acne, UTIs, as well as lowering blood pressure and detoxing from free radicals.

While there is not extensive scientific research to back-up all the superfood’s claims, celery is packed with vitamins and minerals and most importantly – water. Many of the health benefits can be simply due to celery juicing providing the extra hydration most people lack.

While no celery juice can make up for any unhealthy habits, this fad is actually worth a try to detox your digestive system and give your body a boost of vitamins. For a quick detox, try drinking 16 oz of fresh celery juice in the morning before consuming any food and then wait 30 minutes to an hour before eating. Attempt this for 7 or 21 days and jot down any benefits to conduct your own research.

Ketogenic Diet

This is Atkins 2.0. The Ketogenic diet is basically fats for breakfast, lunch and dinner – specifically 75% fat, 20% protein, and only 5% carbs. This reduction of carbs in your liver puts your body in a metabolic state called ketosis in which your body pulls energy from fat instead of glycogen.

While the Keto is a new buzzword in many’s vocabulary (and kitchen), keto is not a new discovery; in fact, it was first introduced in the 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy and Parkinson’s.

Since then, the diet claims to battle diabetes, rid your body of cancer cells, decrease epilepsy attacks, and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

While many successful studies show decreased epileptic seizures, long-term health benefits are yet to be proven or studied. The downside to this diet is the you risk malnutrition because of the vast food elimination, depriving you of necessary micronutrients. The Keto diet can also cause liver and kidney problems – especially to those who already have existing liver conditions.

Because the brain needs healthy carbohydrates to function, an extreme absence could cause mood swings and concentration problems. Also absent? Muscles mass and healthy bowel movements, since this diet removes carbs needed to bulk up and fibrous foods like grains and legumes that help your digestive system!

Whilst it may be an amazing short-term weight loss trick, I suggest discussing this diet with your doctor or nutritionist before attempting ketosis.

Before you Jump into Anything

All in all, our bodies are smart and they are built to function effectively so avoid fast tracking; a healthy body should not need extreme diets to help it do what it should already be doing on its own. However, sometimes in order to get our bodies to its prime we need a little reboot as we transition into a healthier lifestyle. Changes like allowing your body to process food according to its natural circadian rhythm or limiting sugar intake can have long-term benefits and allow us to prevent multiple diseases in the future.

While I am not a certified nutritionist or medical practitioner, sticking to anti inflammatory diets – ones that limit sugar, dairy, gluten and alcohol intake – can benefit anyone immensely.

Consult a doctor or diet specialist before partaking in any extreme diet change.