April 7, 2016

5 Wellness Trends – Debunked

In the ever-changing wellness landscape, trends come and go. And some products become popular before consumers even understand what they’re buying. Do you want to know what’s worth the investment and what’s a waste of time? Here’s the latest on the good, the bad, and the ugly in current fitness trends.

Foam Rolling

Foam rollers are everywhere these days, popping up in exercise magazines, gyms and physical therapy offices across the country. Devotees claim to feel lighter, looser, taller, and more flexible after using a foam roller during a self-myofascial release (SMR) session. Here, the person slowly rolls the foam roller along a certain muscle group in order to release tension in the fascia – connective tissue that surrounds muscles and muscle groups.

By rolling a foam roller (or a ball) mindfully along a muscle group, the person can soothe inflammation and realign posture. In fact, a recent study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research reports that myofascial rolling can indeed improve range of motion. This in turn can increase flexibility, rebound, and overall health.

You should consult your doctor before foam rolling as certain movements can be dangerous for individuals with osteoporosis.

Tongue Scraping

A tongue scraper might just be the best $3 you spend on personal hygiene. Tongue scraping was an ancient Ayurvedic practice that has since been abandoned or overlooked in favor of brushing. A toothbrush, however, does not remove the same amount of bacteria as a tongue scraper, a curved device designed to remove build-up as it is pulled along the tongue. The practice can improve your sense of taste, freshen breath, and promote overall oral health.

The Blood Type Diet

Based on the book Eat Right for Your Type, this diet is based on the interaction of certain foods with an individual’s blood type and gut bacteria. Its creators claim that wellness is not one-size-fits-all and must be tailored to an individual’s needs based on their blood type.

The program touts an expensive kit, books and overpriced multi-vitamins. It also oversimplifies the complexities of biochemistry, reading more like an axiomatic horoscope that offers vague advice that can be applied to anyone (e.g., the call to eat fewer refined sugars and processed foods).

No evidence exists to support the Blood Type Diet’s claims.

The Alkaline Diet

If you spend enough time searching the internet for diets that remedy inflammation, autoimmune conditions or allergies, you’re bound to come across the Alkaline Diet. The gist of the diet is this: Because our modern diet consists of acidic foods, our bodies have become more acidic. But if we eat a more alkaline diet, our bodies will become alkaline. Cancer and other harmful diseases can’t survive in an alkaline environment, so such a diet will help us to be healthier.

In reality, the body’s pH level does not change greatly, Alkaline Diet or not. If it did, serious complications would occur (e.g., acidosis, alkalosis, death). The body goes to great lengths to maintain homeostasis and remain pH-neutral. For example, the body will pull calcium from the bones to neutralize the acidity of the blood.

Bottled Water

It seems like everything is secretly bad for us these days – even bottled water. Staying hydrated is a must, but it does matter where your water comes from.

Most disposable plastic bottles contain a chemical called Bisphenol-A (BPA). This chemical has been associated with dramatically accelerating the formation of fat. In fact, one study found that small doses of BPA caused a 1,300% increase in the fat levels of mice.

Additionally, plastics can contain chemicals with estrogenic activity (EA). These chemicals can contribute to obesity, increase the likelihood of cancer, alter the function of reproductive organs and lead to development issues in infants and children. So, just play it safe and store your water in a metal canteen.

Don’t let the ugly side of wellness trends deter you from living or adapting to a healthy lifestyle. It’s tempting to hop on any new trend that promises to save us from the perils of chemicals, modern-day diets and sedentary living habits. But with a little research – and a level head – you can navigate the mob of misinformation and find some habits that truly make a positive impact on your life.

Keep Reading: Pickleball: The Hottest Sport for Boomers

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