Americans trying to better their health often turn to popular fads which claim to be healthy. But some supposedly “healthy” trends — and ones widely considered to be a healthier alternative to risky behavior — have their own set of serious risks, experts say.
Comments praising the health benefits of trends can spread lightning-fast through word of mouth and social media. And celebrities sometimes lead by example, like when Cardi B promoted detox tea. It’s important, though, to stay informed about the pros and cons of these fads and make sure you’re not harming yourself.
Here are some trends marketed as healthy that come with some potential risks.
Vaping has been marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking, and a recent study found that e-cigarettes were successful in helping some smokers quit. But vapes come with serious risks, especially for kids.
Vaping allows users to smoke nicotine in an aerosol. It has become a habit of more than three million middle and high school students.
But e-cigarettes contain high levels of nicotine and can still cause nicotine addiction. This is especially troubling because kids are often unaware of the amount of nicotine they intake when vaping.
Users of nicotine have an increased risk for lung diseases and cancers. And nicotine is especially addictive to those who start smoking it before the age of 21, according to The Nemours Foundation, a nonprofit pediatric health system.
E-cigarette flavors may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The flavors can harm the cells lining the interior of blood vessels. In addition to physiological risks, critics claim vape flavors give kids a sense of false security, leading the way to a tobacco addiction. Another study found possible fungal and bacterial toxins in some e-cigarette products.
In recent years, spiked seltzer has become extremely popular, with a 2019 Nielsen survey showing a 193 percent increase in sales year-over-year. The products generally contain 5 to 6 percent alcohol by volume.
And now, spiked still water also exists. FIFCO USA released Pura Still Spiked Still Water last year, marketing it as a healthier alternative to regular alcoholic drinks. The drink has 4.5% alcohol by volume.
Spiked water is lower in calories, which can be appealing for healthy drinkers. A 2013 study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, however, found that drinking low-calorie mixers can get people drunk quicker.
”I don’t necessarily think they are healthier than other alcohol beverages, because alcohol in excess is not good for anyone’s health,” Courtney Dunn, a dietitian in San Diego, told Refinery29.
Alcohol is killing more people globally than originally thought, according to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet. Another study in The Lancet found even one or two drinks of alcohol a day can increase the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
Though spiked water brands have lower calorie counts, it’s important to be careful about how much alcohol you put in your body. Make sure you’re aware of how much you’re drinking, and that you’re hydrating with regular water.
Fitness trackers are an easy way for exercisers to monitor their physical activity. They’re wearable devices that can count the steps you take, estimate the calories you burn, monitor your heart rate and track your sleep. They’re often marketed as a convenient, easy way to keep track of health and exercise and can help people reach critical fitness goals.
But some experts say fitness trackers can negatively impact mental health. These critics say fitness tracker users risk becoming unhealthily obsessed with tracking their movements — all for a device that may not provide wholly accurate information.
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, approximately 20 million women and 10 million men have a clinically significant eating disorder, such as bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa. Obsessively checking fitness trackers can contribute to unhealthy attitudes toward eating and fitness, according to Jean Chen Smith, a fashion executive and pilates instructor.
Smith wrote more about the dangers of fitness trackers for USA TODAY. She wrote about her attachment to her fitness tracker, and how she risked developing an abnormal obsession with it.
The accuracy of fitness trackers is contested as well. The Stanford University Medical Center tested seven trackers and found most failed to accurately monitor how much energy people were burning during exercises. So even if you’re using a fitness app in a healthy way, the data may not be 100% accurate.
Juice cleanses have been around for more than 10 years as a way to diet and detox. Advocates of juice cleanses champion their potential health benefits, such as weight loss, digestion improvement and providing extra nutrients.
Juice cleanses are when people drink only fresh-pressed juices made from vegetables or fruits for several days in order to lose weight. However, drinking solely juice for days at a time can cause nutritional deficiencies, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Harvard Health Publishing mentioned other drawbacks, like how excessive juice intake may even cause weight gain, and that juices don’t contain proteins which help people maintain a healthy weight. Also, unpasteurized juices may contain harmful bacteria that cause infections.
Be skeptical next time you hear about a miracle juice cleanse. Eat healthy and exercise – just maybe not with a fitness tracker.
Read More at USA Today