Over the last decade the wellness world has exploded. It seems as though every week there is some hot trend being touted by a health expert, influencer, or celebrity (Gwyneth Paltrow, we are talking about you!). However, a handful (or three!) of these latest gadgets, diets, products, concepts, and workout methods have stirred up quite a bit of controversy—as skeptic experts claim the purported benefits are just hype and aren’t actually supported by scientific evidence. From sticking cold, hard gemstones in the vajay-jay to drinking stalky veggies, here are the 15 wellness trends experts hope to say sayonara to in 2020.
If there is one workout that dominated the 2010s it would have to be spinning. From trendy classes like SoulCycle to the Peloton revolution, stationary bikes are definitely the cardio workout of choice. But according to Cristin Smith, founder of holistic health center Saffron & Sage these types of workouts aren’t doing any favors for your mental health. “Your body and mind is already on overdrive from stress and the constant activity of our go-go-go lives,” she explains. Instead, she believes we need environments that activate our parasympathetic nervous systems. “Cardio is great for the body, but when we’re trying to combat anxiety and stress, a spin class isn’t going to do it!”
With the popularity of intermittent fasting, other more extreme fasting methods, such as the snake diet, have increased in popularity. However, John Magaña Morton, MD, division chief of bariatric and minimally invasive surgery at Yale Medicine, explains that while you will likely lose weight quickly, due to the fact that you aren’t eating, many of these fasting methods are glorified versions of starvation. “Fasting for extending periods of time can be hazardous leading to dehydration, electrolyte and vitamin deficiencies, alertness and muscle loss,” he says. Additionally, he points out that fasting isn’t sustainable in the long-term, and may lead to bad eating habits, micronutrient deficiency, and muscle loss. “The best diet is the one you can stick to!”
While reformers can be a great workout for people who are already in shape, certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist Holly Roser points out that they aren’t effective for most people. “The reality is our country is 39.8% obese, so the workout we need to do involves cardiovascular activity and lots of it,” she explains. She suggests boxing classes, treadmill classes, and Zumba “as they are not only enjoyable, but build a community. Try to workout with others so you’ll hold yourself accountable and enjoy the weightless process,” she encourages. Additionally, she urges the importance of weight lifting and resistance training.
Over the last several years, there has been a major shift to all-natural, minimally processed everything—often at the expense of proven western medicine, says Heather Kunen, DDS, MS, co-founder of Beam Street. “There has emerged a strong anti-fluoride movement that condemns the use and consumption of the substance, deeming it highly dangerous,” she explains. While it is true that fluoride is poisonous if excessively consumed, it is an extremely important material for the maintenance of oral health and the prevention of dental disease. “When consumed as directed, the levels of fluoride that are used in bottled water, toothpastes and mouthwashes are not nearly high enough to lead to bodily damage, but are crucial for the preservation of oral health,” she continues. “Fluoride serves to bind to our tooth enamel and remineralize it, essentially forming a coat of armor that protects against invading bacteria and acids.”
Another dental trend that has emerged is activated charcoal toothpaste, many people swearing it as a tooth-whitening remedy or even as a replacement for traditional toothpaste. “Charcoal products will claim that they bind to tooth bacteria and help clear it away from the oral environment; however, no studies have proven such claims,” points out Kunen. While she attests that charcoal has abrasive properties that may help to remove the buildup from tooth surfaces (“think of it like shining a shoe”), activated charcoal has not been approved by the ADA or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Since charcoal is highly abrasive, it has the potential to wear away and erode enamel if overused. Furthermore, charcoal dental products must not be used as a substitute for toothpaste as it does not contain fluoride, which is an essential mineral to maintain strong enamel and fight off tooth decay,” she concludes.
While high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts can be beneficial, impactful workouts, Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition, explains that they can be incredibly overwhelming and physically damaging for our capabilities. “We treasure movement in any respect that is appropriate for your life, body, and fitness goals,” she says. “Walking or a 20 minute home workout with an app is just as laudable as a HIIT class.” She encourages clients to fit fitness classes in, stressing the importance of consistency over intensity.
The CBD oil product market exploded in 2020, something Marisol Alston, MSW Resident at New Method Wellness, isn’t too keen on. “The use of products with unknown long-term effects such as CBD oils, essential oils, and trendy supplements has been highly discouraged,” she explains, pointing out that many are lacking comprehensive research on the possible perils. “Experts continue to promote the use of customary well researched methods, such as well-balanced diets, and exercise for 2020.”
John Chuback, MD, Board-Certified General Surgeon and Cardiovascular Surgeon, and founder of Chuback Education, LLC, is not down with one of GOOP’s most controversial suggestions. “The stupidest and potentially dangerous health advice I’ve heard in the last few years was to put a jade egg in one’s vagina,” he says. “It was an absurd and irresponsible suggestion and I strongly advise that no one ever engage in this practice for any reason.”
Over the last few years, working out has become somewhat of an event on social media—a trend wellness expert and founder of NYC-based fitness studio Box + Flow, Olivia Young, just can’t get behind. “I’ve seen people use working out as a facade, as a check in the box and as an influencer activity,” she explains. “Working out is not necessarily about fitness, but more about feeling. It’s the way we see ourselves. You can be ‘fit,’ but if you don’t feel well, you need to reconsider the way you see yourself.” Instead, she encourages doing what feels good—which doesn’t necessarily mean what is “cool” or “hot” in the workout world. “Working out should be fun, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t challenge you,” she says. “Find something that really moves you, and it can be as simple as running each morning. It doesn’t have to be trendy or the latest Instagram craze. Get in tune with your body and find what works best for you.”
Fitness influencers love giving advice on social media. However, Nick Rizzo, Fitness Research Director at RunRepeat.Com, points out that according to a recent study conducted by the University of Glasgow, 90% of information and advice that social media influencers share is false. “Although their intentions are great, they are what is controlling the conversation,” he says. “This keeps steering discussion away from topics or information that are actually backed by science, leading to greater issues, frustrations, and potentially negative health consequences for their followers.”
There are many different detox and weight loss strategies that seemed to pop up everywhere in 2019, including teas, diets, herbal supplements, liquid cleanse, laxatives or diuretics, lollipops, and other oral supplements. However, Lisa Jones, MA, RDN, LDN, FAND, points out that there is a lack of scientific studies to show their effectiveness. “Individuals are exposed to large numbers of toxins from our diets (fish or animal meat) and pollutants in our environment. However, our body is highly sophisticated in removing toxins in many different ways,” she explains. Some of these “detox” methods may lead to nutrient deficiency—especially those that require fasting or a juice cleanse.
The ketogenic diet has been rising to stardom in the wellness world for a few years now, but some experts, like Melissa Mitri, MS, RD, Owner Melissa Mitri Nutrition LLC, hope it has peaked. While she does attest to the fact that it has been shown to help manage epilepsy symptoms in children, she explains that there is a lack of research on how it may help the average person. “The keto diet consists of mostly fat (about 90% of calories) and is extremely low in carbohydrates—typically less than 50 grams per day,” she says. “With such a high fat intake, the cardiac risks are not yet known.” Then, there is the fact that it also restricts whole grains and most fruits—foods that contain antioxidants that reduce inflammation and benefit our immune system. “Long-term studies on the safety and effectiveness of keto are lacking, and it is also very difficult to sustain,” she adds.
Another super trendy wellness trend of 2019 was the Whole30 Diet, which promotes avoiding whole food groups such as dairy, legumes, and whole grains for a 30 day cleanse. “These types of foods are very nutritious and contain important nutrients the body needs such as fiber, B vitamins, and iron,” Mitri points out. “It is also ineffective as it is difficult to sustain, and after 30 day period, you will likely regain the weight back and go back to your usual habits.”
The idea of doing a super intense workout session in a steaming hot room sounds a bit too intense to most people. However, in the last decade it has become increasingly more popular. Smith hopes that people will rethink the trend in 2020. “When we practice intense yoga in a heated setting, it gives the false impression that we have warmed up the body and this often exposes people to potential injury,” she explains. “Let your body do the work of heating up naturally and building that heat internally.”
In 2019, celery was the reigning champion of green juices. Celebrities, influencers, and many health experts endorsed the stalky juice, claiming it boasted endless health benefits. However, Allen Conrad, BS, DC, CSCS of Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, PA, points out that while celery in vegetable form is highly nutritious, juicing it takes away a lot of its nutritional value. “The only downside of celery juicing is that by doing so you eliminate the ruffage of the celery stalk, which provides valuable fiber which helps fill you up,” he explains. Crunching on a stalk of celery will reap you more benefits than juicing. Celery contains coumarins, which help in the digestion process, and have also helped people with acid reflux. Other benefits include Vitamin A, which some people claim helps with weight loss. “Eating celery and vegetables as a part of your regular diet is recommended, but skip the vegetable and fruit juices!” he says. And to live your happiest and healthiest life, don’t miss these 27 Ways We All Got a Lot Less Healthy During the 2010s.