With each new year comes several new health fads. Sometimes these fads prove to be effective, like handwashing, which was first encouraged by Ignaz Semmelweis in 1846. Other times these fads are just plain baloney, such as the “raw” water craze of 2018. So how do you know whether or not to try 2022’s health trends? Below are five emerging trends and what the experts have to say about them.
- Intuitive Eating
This year dietitians are fighting diet culture by encouraging those who struggle with their body image to practice intuitive eating instead of highly restrictive diets. The diets of intuitive eaters are led by instinct, emotion, and rational thought. Dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch first coined the term “intuitive eating” in 1995. It is intended to promote attunement to your physical sensations to determine which biological and psychological needs must be met, and to remove psychological obstacles (such as food restrictions) that prevent you from eating happily. For example, intuitive eating involves allowing yourself to eat what you are craving right when you are craving it, even if it’s something that society labels as “bad,” such as processed sugar. Avoiding food restrictions in this way is believed to prevent binging. It is also believed that when people start eating exactly what they crave, they will be surprised by how often they start to crave fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other things that society labels as “good.” There is evidence that intuitive eating can lead to moderate weight loss, improve cholesterol levels, and improve metabolism. This is mainly because it eliminates preoccupation with food. If your goal is to improve your mental health and your relationship with food, intuitive eating may be a great fit for you. However, if significant weight loss is your primary goal, experts say that intuitive eating is probably not your best route. Significant weight loss usually requires some form of food and / or calorie restriction.
Pros: Intuitive eating generally improves one’s psychological relationship with their body and food.
Cons: Intuitive eating is not highly effective for significant weight loss.
- Sound Healing
Sound healing is defined as using music to create healing vibrations throughout a person’s body, which places them in a meditative state. For example, a sound healing therapist may use quartz bowls and gongs claimed to be tuned at strategic frequencies for healing different parts of the body and mind. Though it has received newfound popularity in 2022, sound healing was first used in ancient Tibet. Master sound healer Barbara Spaulding says that recreating the frequencies that are usually experienced in deep sleep triggers a relaxation response. There is anecdotal evidence that sound healing can reduce anxiety and pain. However, there is little-to-no evidence that sound can physically heal the body.
Pros: Sound healing is risk free and it may temporarily reduce anxiety or pain.
Cons: Sound healing cannot heal physical injuries or illnesses.
Nervines are said to be herbs that specifically help the nervous system. They include chamomile, milky oats, skullcap, St. John’s wort, and valerian. They don’t have any pharmaceutical equivalents and are intended to restore balance and restfulness in the body. Several people report that nervines reduce anxiety and create a sense of overall wellbeing. However, there is little-to-no scientific evidence that this is true. Nervines are notorious for being under researched. In some cases, nervines can produce nasty side effects like diarrhea and even hallucinations.
Pros: People claim nervines reduce anxiety.
Cons: Nervines are under researched, and they can cause highly unpleasant side effects.
Cryotherapy means “cold therapy.” It is theorized that exposing the body to extremely cold temperatures for several minutes can reduce migraines, reduce chronic pain, treat mood disorders, and even treat low-risk tumors and prevent dementia. However, similarly to nervines, the research around cryotherapy is merely anecdotal, and its side effects outweigh its supposed benefits. Side effects of cryotherapy include poorly controlled high blood pressure, major heart or lung disease, poor circulation, allergy symptoms, and even nerve disease.
Pros: There is anecdotal evidence that cryotherapy may reduce pain, treat mood disorders, and prevent dementia.
Cons: Cryotherapy is poorly researched and can result in dangerous side effects.
- Micro Workouts
Many people feel like there is no point in going to the gym if they are going to spend less than an hour there. This means that many busy adults avoid exercise altogether. However, over the last few years “micro workouts” have taken the spotlight. Micro workouts are usually about ten minutes long and are typically made up of full body workouts such as push-ups, planks, or jumping jacks. These workouts are often done in intervals—HIIT style. Ten minutes of exercise may not sound very beneficial, but the American Heart Association suggests that adults get a minimum of 75 minutes of intense aerobic exercise per week. Daily micro workouts will allow you to achieve that goal. It is important to note that micro workouts need to be intense enough to raise your heart rate to the fat-burning zone, or 70% of your maximum heart rate, for you to reap the full health benefits. Simply walking for ten minutes a day would not be enough exercise, though walking is a great long-term exercise, and even short walks are better than nothing. Enroll in MotivHealth’s Steps Program to earn $1 toward your HSA for every day you walk 8,000 steps or more, up to 20 days per month.
Pros: Micro workouts allow busy adults to achieve their minimum weekly exercise requirements. They are a great way to maintain weight and possibly achieve moderate weight loss.
Cons: One micro workout per day may not be enough to produce significant, rapid weight loss.
These are just a few of several upcoming health trends in the media right now. Every time you come across a new health trend, be sure to research it or even ask your healthcare provider before trying it out. Make sure to ask yourself if the evidence in favor of the trend is scientific or merely anecdotal.
What are some other up-and-coming health trends you’ve seen?