Just how beneficial to your health are trends like veganism, juicing, oil pulling and seven-minute miracle?
This post was written by Jade Towle, originally published in The Reply.
I've tried, tested, and triumphed (or failed) many different health fads. Quite frankly, more than I can count. Looking back just five years, there's been hundreds of new and "groundbreaking" health kicks that promise to help us lose weight, gain energy, rejuvenate our body, increase our libido, decrease our stress, cleanse our system, cleanse our skin -- you get the point.
Today, the health and fitness industry is practically barking down millennials' throats with aggressive suggestions for exploring new health innovations -- whether through targeted advertising, on our social feeds, or in an article or blog post -- and it's hard to resist trying some of them. Sure, healthy change happens when you commit to a lifestyle, but which trends can make a positive impact during the process?
I took it upon myself to investigate (unintentionally, and over the span of a few years), and here's my honest overview of some of the most memorable health-capades I've ever dabbled in, including the benefits, process, and aftermath.
The Benefits: Veganism really is a lifestyle for thousands of millennials in Canada. According to studies, plant-based eaters are thinner and have lower cholesterol and blood-pressure levels, a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and lower cancer rates. What's more, according to Tony Weis, associate professor in the department of geography at the University of Western Ontario and author of The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock, "increasing livestock production is a major force in the loss of biodiversity, the pollution of waterways and climate change."
The Process: I set a goal to try veganism for one month, and I achieved it. I did it for health reasons, but also to understand the process of animal agriculture in Canada. I read books and watched documentaries to gain better insight, like Skinny Bitch and Food Inc. For one month I was hungry (from craving cheese all the time), and sad (from exposing myself to the reality of industrial food animal production). At the end of 30 days, I had dropped seven pounds. I felt lethargic (which I'm told is common because of the drastic change), but I also felt a sense of rejuvenation.
The Aftermath: Fast forward three years and I still include vegan meals to my diet every week. That's not to say I don't eat meat, but I've become more aware of the process, and follow companies and products that practice more humane means, with resources like Certified Humane. With new vegan trends like Meatless Mondays on the rise, there are countless recipes online to help sustain and encourage some balance of veganism. Moderation is key.
The Benefits: Juicing is said to be a successful detox because it allows pre-digestion of all the nutrients from produce. Experts say it can protect us from heart and kidney disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes, as well as reduce our risks of cancer, boost our immune systems, and remove toxins from our bodies.
The Process: After watching the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, I ordered a juicer. And I loved it. I juiced carrots, beets, celery, apples, tomatoes, ginger, strawberries, oranges, kale -- you name it. I would also try juice cleanses, where I'd consume only juice for one day. It wasn't until a friend asked me, "do you know how much sugar is in that?" that I questioned the power of my new fad friend. There's a fine line between consuming nutrients and overkilling the sugar intake.
The Aftermath: I still juice, and I still love it. It's a great pick-me-up (and a killer hangover cure). But when I juice, I try to stick to vegetables with only one or two fruits to avoid the sugars. This can be a great addition to a current diet.
The Benefits: Oil pulling has said to be used for thousands of years as an Indian folk remedy. It involves swishing oil (coconut, sesame, or olive) around the mouth for 15 to 20 minutes, and is said to clear the immune system, reduce stress and headaches, whiten teeth, and promote clear skin.
The Process: My roommate and I tried this together, and we were thrilled to do it. Before starting, we had already vowed to do it every day thereafter. We were ambitious. But, I'll be honest - putting a spoonful of coconut oil in my mouth felt terrible, and unnatural, and silly. After 15 minutes of staring at each other with globs of coconut oil swishing around in our mouths, I wasn't convinced this was a cure-all remedy. After skimming the Internet (where I first stumbled upon the trend), I started to see a lot of counter arguments that suggest this detox has no scientific evidence to back its health claims. My roommate and I laughed.
The Aftermath: We've never tried it again.
The Benefits: The seven-minute workout has exploded across the Internet. Publications including the New York Times have published articles and blogs on the science behind it. In seven minutes, experts claim your body can get the same workout as a prolonged routine. And yes, there's an app for that.
The Process: I downloaded the "Seven" app to my phone, and have used it several times. Within seven minutes, I can certainly get my sweat on. Could you compare it to an hour-long workout? Not unless I want to get hurt. Regardless, it's a great workout to add to an already existing regime. Seven minutes is better than nothing, but 30 minutes is better than seven -- and you get my point.
The Aftermath: Every night at 8 p.m. a whistle-like sound goes off on my phone and the app asks if I've got seven minutes. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don't.
The health and fitness industry will continue to bloom, and new fads will come and go. Who knows, in five years time I could be sharing my latest endeavour of bathing with cooked onions for baby smooth skin -- wait does that work?
Do you have any health trends to share? Let us know in the comments below.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: