It seems that, like fashion, health trends tend to come and go in fads. Right now, there seem to be several circling around that I would like to address today, as well as share how I evaluate a product or trend when asked about it professionally (which happens quite often).
Two of the most recent trends I've noticed have been celery juice and keto, both of which have been gaining popularity over the past few weeks (or months with regards to keto).
Let's start with celery juice. The latest claims state that celery juice is the answer when it comes to chronic health issues, flushing out toxins and helping with digestion. While celery is definitely not the most nutrient dense vegetable, it does contain some nutrients such as vitamins A, C, K, and some B vitamins, as well as a few minerals. It is also decently high in fiber, which is most of why I am completely against the celery juice fad. We need the whole versions of vegetables to gain most of the nutrients and all of the fiber. This is another example of trying to glorify one food into an "end all, be all" cure for something, which we love to chase after in society.
My verdict? Not worth it. Eat the real celery stalks instead.
Second, we have keto, which is a high fat, low carb approach to eating. A year and a half ago, I gave keto a try myself (read more here) and wasn't a huge fan. I think there are benefits to eating with a keto mindset (focusing on healthy fats, keeping refined carbs to a minimum), but again, it is not the solution to every problem, especially for women. Women who have struggled with hormone imbalances or chronic stress their whole lives are generally NOT great candidates for keto right away. We need to make sure that hormones and blood sugar are balanced FIRST before looking into drastically cutting carbs, which can be very hard on the female hormonal system. The same goes for men, although they can have a bit of an easier time simply because their hormonal systems are less complex.
Additionally, eating keto doesn't mean drinking a bunch of keto shakes and eating keto bars. That is not the point. The point is a low carb, high fat approach from real, WHOLE foods. So if you want to take a lesson and give keto a try, I recommend eating plenty of quality protein, lots of healthy fats, and tons of non-starchy vegetables. The only time I really would push a keto recommendation would be for anyone with cancer or someone that deals with seizures regularly (especially kids).
My verdict? Just eat more protein, fat, and vegetables and less bars, shakes, and anything in a package.
Those are just two examples of recent trends that have been gaining a lot of attention, but there are so many others as well. How exactly do I decipher what is real and what is complete BS?
It's simple really. If it's a product, I look at the ingredients in the product, the sourcing, and the general overall modality (i.e. is it a pill or shake or bar?). If a product claims to be the only item you ever need for the rest of your life, has an ingredient list a mile long, and you can't trace the sourcing of the ingredients (i.e. it might be organic, but where does it come from?). 99.9% of the time, products that enter the health market are worthless. If they are based in real, whole food or they ARE real, whole food, then they'll get my stamp of approval. There are very few brands and products on that list. The main ones that AREN'T on the list include 99.9% of protein powders/bars, Shakeology, 310 Shakes, Herbalife, and most anything you can buy at GNC.
If the trend is a particular way of eating (like keto), then we need to look at the premise of the template. Is it intended to have you eat a certain way to buy a certain product or does it claim to help with weight loss or another health issue? Most of the time, what really works is returning back to real, whole food like I always talk about while keeping a balance in protein, fat, and carbs (most of which coming from vegetables). If there is an extreme health issue (an autoimmune disease or cancer, for instance), then we can look at keto or other options.
But what we need to remember is that our ancestors didn't have access to all these 1200 calorie diets and keto meal plans. They ate real food, stayed active, and didn't stress so much about finding the "one thing" that was going to cure them. I'm sorry - anything that claims to be the end all, cure all is probably far from that. This is why real food doesn't have a marketing team - there's nothing glamorous to sell like a new, fancy protein bar.
When in doubt, most new health products aren't worth the hype. Stick to real, whole food, and you'll never go wrong!