There’s nothing wrong with trying to be healthy, but what if the steps you’re taking aren’t doing anything? Some of today’s most popular health trends may not be worth it after all.
Forming a new habit can be difficult, especially when it's one related to your health and wellness. No matter what you do, there's no denying that junk food is still delicious despite how much we hear about its crappy ingredients, and that exercise still takes time and energy we don't want to spend no matter how satisfying it can feel. However, there are few things that can make us feel more proud of ourselves than taking consistent steps toward better health—but are we really, though?
Whether a longstanding recommendation or a new trend that's sweeping offices and gyms across the world, there are many health-related things we encounter every day that, as it turns out, really aren't worth all the hype.
We can hear you screaming at your computer screen now, wondering out loud how we could dare say that putting a piece of kale in your mouth is somehow wrong. We promise we're not saying that exactly, but hear us out on this one.
It's a goal of pretty much every human being out there to eat healthier on a daily basis, regardless of what “healthier” happens to mean to them—for some people it's becoming a vegan, while others just make the switch from drinking five sodas a day to only three.
At some point, however, making the switch to eating healthier can take a dangerous and very much unhealthy turn. An obsessive desire to eat only foods that are healthy is known as orthorexia nervosa, a condition that has been categorized as an eating disorder right alongside things like bulimia and anorexia nervosa.
Those who have it might spend 30 minutes figuring out what to order at a restaurant, only to eat nothing because they couldn't verify that every ingredient used was organic. Or maybe it's that they don't take a handful of almonds because they weren't first soaked overnight before being served.
Left untreated long enough, the condition can eventually cause nutritional deficiencies that can lead to even more serious health problems. Unfortunately, it's a disorder that's only becoming more common and sometimes even validated—some people are of the opinion that starving yourself to be thin is bad, but not eating because you don't know the name of the cow your burger came from is somehow the picture of health. Do yourself a favor and don't go overboard.
Using Fitness Trackers
By now, you might think that we're just trying to take away everything you love—first your healthy diet and now your beloved Fitbit. Again, we're not saying anything is inherently wrong with trying to keep track of your steps or fitness levels, but there are some unexpected downsides.
First of all, if you've been using your tracker to keep tabs on things like your heart rate, you should know that they have a tendency to be inaccurate. One study showed that they can calculate your heart rate incorrectly by up to 20 beats each minute, and that the miscalculation got even worse the harder someone exercised, which is probably when most people who use the feature care about it most.
For someone who absolutely needs to know their heart rate during exercise because of a heart condition, this kind of inaccuracy can also just be plain dangerous.
Not only that but, while studies do show that fitness trackers can help people exercise more, it often does so in a way that's similar to a parent telling their child they can only have dessert after eating their carrots. Fitness trackers can eventually make exercise feel like even more of a chore than it sometimes does, and they might not even really help you get or stay fit!
One study kept track of 470 teenagers as they followed an exercise regimen and lower-calorie diet. Half of them kept track of their exercise on their own, while the other half used fitness trackers to get the job done for them. Believe it or not, the group that did it by hand actually lost more weight.
Be prepared to run into your dentist’s office to gloat, because it's been determined there is no scientific evidence that flossing is as great as they say it is. Go ahead, let all the times they judged you for your bleeding gums just roll right off your back.
Despite evidence that suggests flossing can help with plaque, cavities, and gum disease, that evidence is also considered to be “very unreliable,” “weak,” and “very low,” as well as being open to, “a moderate to large potential for bias.”
You probably won't be surprised to hear that most studies that tout the benefits of flossing are often funded by floss-making companies, and they're not even that thorough—one apparently made its pro-flossing conclusions after its subjects flossed just a single time.
Cutting Out Salt
We've all heard before that Americans eat way too much salt—in fact, according to the American Heart Association, the average person consumes around 3.4 grams of it day, when the recommended limit is a mere 1.5 grams.
There's no doubt that most people could stand to cut some of their daily salt intake out of their diets—after all, too much can increase your risk for things like high blood pressure and heart disease—but cutting out some doesn’t mean cutting out all.
Believe it or not, your body does actually need salt, and research shows that the recommendation from the American Heart Association may actually be too low. One study monitored around 100,000 people and paid special attention to the amount of salt they consumed—the group who ended up being least likely to suffer from heart problems was the group that consumed between three and six grams of sodium each day.
Additionally, another study done in 2011 found that participants with high blood pressure were more likely to have a heart attack or stroke when they consumed over seven grams of salt each day, but also when they consumed less than three grams. When you consider the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 1.5 grams, it seems that it could put people at risk more than it helps.
Working at Standing Desks
It's one of the latest trends in innovative offices everywhere: a desk that requires you to stand so you're forced off your butt during the day. It makes sense—you can avoid slouching over, pinching your nerves all day, and just generally feeling like a lazy blob by making sure you're keeping yourself somewhat active during the work day.
However, standing while at work isn't enough to negate all of the things you choose to do outside of the office.
Scientists went over health data for around 5,000 people from the past 15 years, and they found that sitting doesn't play as big of a role in our health as we think. It’s being stationary in general that isn't good for us, and it doesn't matter where we do it.
Basically, if you think that standing during works means you’ve essentially worked out during the day and can veg out in front of the TV all night when you get home, you've got another think coming. We’re not saying that your standing desk is totally useless, but you still need to get in an actual workout every now and then, too.
Many people start their day off with a multivitamin as way for them to guarantee that they're getting all the nutrients they need no matter what they eat. However, what most people might not know is that certain vitamins can build up in our bodies and lead to a number of issues.
When it comes to vitamins and nutrients, there are two main categories-water soluble and fat soluble. It's actually good to consume water-soluble nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin B12 daily because your body will just excrete the extra in your urine.
However, fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A and vitamin E can actually build up within your body's fat cells and lead to vitamin toxicity. That does sound more severe than it can be—for most nutrients, an “overdose” won’t cause many noticeable symptoms, but can increase your risk for certain conditions over time.
That said, it's still recommended that you try to get all of your nutrients from real food, and take supplements only for things you truly need more of.