I am no stranger to health trends. I've tried all the powders, caffeine sources, exercise classes, spiritual guides, and "cleansing" routines that I can think of. Unfortunately, fads are unavoidable. I'd find myself buying $50 powders that promised to make my skin glow, my mind sharpen, and my metabolism quicken, yet none of these promises transpired. In experimenting with all of the crazy trends out there, I learned what actually works, what's fun, and what is a waste of money (or is even detrimental to my health). Here are 15 health crazes that I will break down to help you figure out whether or not it will be worth it.

1. Juice Cleanses

Juice, water, plant and flat lay HD photo by Devin Avery (@officialdavery) on Unsplash

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Starting out with a bang: the infamous juice cleanse. First off, I'm gonna rule out the fun rating on this one. Consuming only liquid vegetables while scrolling through endless pictures of food to try and satisfy your cravings is not fun. Praised by GOOP, discouraged by Refinery29, there are so many opinions on this topic it is hard to sort out what's real and what's fraudulent. Everybody seems to have a different experience. 

Let's break it down. A juice cleanse is a process where you consume only liquified plants for a certain amount of days, typically 1 to 7. Though, some people are very extreme with their juice cleanses and go over a month. These people are all for juice cleanses. They claim it has helped them improve their skin, liver, and overall health.

Personally, I am not in favor of juice cleanses. Watery blends of kale, swiss chard, ginger, and cucumber are great and all, but having that alone for multiple days is really not that healthy. Everybody's constantly saying how juice is "detoxifying", but that is a complete myth. The detox industry draws you in with the sentiment that you can wash away those three burgers, two donuts, and years of drinking soda with just a week of juicing. That is a pseudo-medical concept. Edzard Ernst, a professor of complementary medicine and Exeter University, says that if we really did have toxins in our body in need of being "flushed" out, we would be in serious medical trouble, if not dead. Every second our kidneys, liver, skin, and lungs are detoxifying. So, just because you consume juice doesn't make you toxin free and squeaky clean.

When you juice fast, there are a plethora of negative side effects. For example, your skin can dry out and age more quickly. While we all think we will glow after a celery stalk, it is likely that the opposite will happen. When you eat a low calorie diet, water stored in your muscles with glycogen gets used up and can dry you out. You are also likely not consuming enough fatty acids which can contribute to age and wrinkles. Yikes. Not only will a lack of fatty acids hurt your skin, it can also cause sadness or depression. Your brain is missing omega-3s, which increase serotonin levels. Thus, they'll be down, and you'll be down.

Not only does juice cleansing have negative physical side effects, it can have negative mental side effects. To me, it promotes the false idea that deprivation, restriction, and control are the only way to get the body that you desire. In reality, you can enjoy an abundance of healthy food while maintaining a good relationship with eating, as well as obtaining body confidence. Not to mention, juice cleanses are expensive. At $10 a bottle, and 6-7 bottles a day for a week, you're spending a ton of cash on liquid veggies. Is it really worth it?

My vote: FAD.

2. Matcha

My one true love, my heart and soul, my everything; matcha. Matcha freakin' rocks. I literally cannot find one thing wrong with it. It can serve as your daily source of caffeine, chlorophyll, and self-care all-in-one.

Matcha has tons of awesome health benefits. It contains L-Theanine, which calms the mind and relaxes the body (for me, that's extremely helpful when consuming caffeine). It also has EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate) which is a type of catechin that is great for cardiovascular health, decreasing cancer risk, improving liver health, and more. Matcha increases your metabolism, detoxifies the body, enhances mood, and can even lower cholesterol. 

There's lots of hype around matcha, but it's legit. I get energy from it, but not the shaky and anxious kind that comes with coffee. I also love the process of making a matcha latte, sipping it quietly in the morning while looking out the window, and reflecting. There's something about the ritual that is calming and allows me to begin my day with self-care.

You can make yours the traditional way, but I love a good, creamy latte.

My vote: FOR REAL.

3. Detox Teas

I can't count how many times I have tried to explain why detox teas are bullsh*t. They're basically shredded dried fruit and laxatives in hot water. In every weight-loss or detox tea, the company specifies that the tea should be paired with "regular exercise" and a "healthy diet," so, it's not the tea that's helping you; it's just living your life healthfully. Detox teas are also packed with caffeine and diuretics, which can trigger the loss of water weight, not real weight. People are tricked into thinking they're being sooo healthy and getting sooo skinny, just because Kylie Jenner got paid to post a picture with an unopened bag of tea. Congratulations.

I can't blame people for falsely believing that these teas are the end-all, be-all solution. Dozens of fit celebrities and influencers endorse this dangerous trend, and I doubt they actually use the tea. The danger in detox teas comes from uncommon ingredients, such as senna. Senna is a plant with laxative effects that can have negative side effects, like potassium depletion, muscle spasm, abnormal heart rhythm, and cramps. That is NOT worth getting to poop your pants and look skinnier for a day. Please do your homework on what you're actually putting in your body before trusting what Hillary Duff, Ashley Benson, or Victoria Justice posts.

Real detox foods or teas, such as dandelion, fennel, and ginger, are extremely healthy, help digestion, and do not cause you to lose your money for muscle spasms. So... let's stick with those, K?

My vote: FAD.

4. Adaptogens / Medicinal Mushrooms

Adaptogens are not only herbs which help the body "adapt" to stress, but are the coolest rising trend in the world of wellness. Mushrooms being reserved for stir-fries and hallucinogenic purposes are a thing of the past. Now, medicinal mushrooms are used for immunity, improved skin, energy, de-stressing purposes, and even to help treat cancer

These incredible superfoods come in powdered, capsule, or whole form and can be consumed daily. Every adaptogen or mushroom has a different purpose and benefit, each one better than the next. They have been used for hundreds of years for various purposes, but they're becoming more and more "trendy" for good reasons. I genuinely feel a difference when I consume mushrooms or adaptogens in my morning coffee or matcha. I'm not as anxious, yet feel stable energy. For example, maca (a powdered root adaptogen) improves energy levels, memory, and mood, which is especially important for me to consume before school. Cordyceps is a mushroom that that improves your blood sugar levels, kidney and heart health, fatigue, and more. It has the same effect as coffee in a much calmer and healthier form. Four Sigmatic makes an amazing mushroom coffee with cordyceps already in it. Double whammy! The best part is that it doesn't even taste like a root or a mushroom.

Overall, adaptogens and mushrooms have an awesome effect and long-lasting health benefits. I'd start out with ashwagandha, an adaptogen aiding in stress, anxiety, and thyroid health. Here are my 10 favorite adaptogens. They may be expensive (around $40 a jar) but last a long time and are MORE than worth it.

My vote: FOR REAL.

5. Fermented Foods

Fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut continue to gain popularity, and for good reason. Fermented foods are made when natural bacteria in foods feeds on the sugar and starch in them, which creates lactic acid. This preserves the food and is what causes the awesome benefits of having enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics. These improve digestion, helping you to absorb more nutrients, and help boost your immune system. What's not to love? Fermented foods like probiotic coconut yogurt can be a little tangy to handle at first taste, but you get used to it and it eventually becomes delicious.

Now that there are tons of fermented foods on the market, you have no excuse not to consume (and love) them.

My vote: FOR REAL.

6. Reiki

Probably the most out-there trend of this bunch, reiki is a healing technique developed by Mikao Usui. It is believed that a reiki practitioner can channel energy into their patient through touch and help them improve their physical and emotional wellbeing. Reiki means "universal life", and some people have had extremely healing and transformative experiences through trying it, myself included. 

Reiki sessions are typically an hour long, and prior to the start of it, you have a discussion with your practitioner about your issues and what you're hoping to achieve through the session. No articles of clothing are removed, and you are in a comfortable sitting position, unlike a typical massage. Then, the practitioner will hold their hands slightly above your body if it's a hands-off session, and if it's a hands-on session, they will apply a light touch. 

Reiki works (or heals, rather) by flowing through the negatively affected parts of your aura and energy field and charging them with positive energy. This is supposed to change your entire mood by raising your vibration where negative thoughts and feelings are attached. Thus, the bad energy falls away and allows reiki to straighten the energy pathways, so life force flows in a smooth and healthy way. That's a lot, I know, but don't knock it 'til you try it.

I have felt benefits from reiki, especially when my practitioner really listens to my feelings. I feel lighter and clearer after sessions, like I had a long nap. While I like it, others say it has completely transformed their lives and the way they see the world. I believe that it varies person to person, but based on the history of reiki, my own experiences, and the experiences of others I've spoken to, it works. The only thing is, if you go into the session with judgment and pre-conceived notions, it won't do it's thing.

My vote: FOR REAL.

7. CBD

CBD, the non-psychoactive oil from the cannabis plant, is the newest obsession of wellness bloggers. Cannabinoids attach themselves to receptors in our bodies which cause them to induce various effects. Some people swear by it, and claim that it offers pain relief, fights anxiety, inflammation, and cancer, helps acne, and more. Others say that it is fake and hasn't done anything for them. There is also the argument of "why should we use it if the FDA has not fully approved it, and it is not legal in every state?"

I have seen decent benefits from CBD. Enough to keep using it when I remember to, but not enough to recommend it profusely. I used a tincture every day for a few weeks that I blended into my matcha or put in tea. I did notice that I felt somewhat calmer when I consumed it regularly. Though, my skin didn't become flawless, my body was still sore after workouts, and my anxiety was not completely gone, which is understandable. Though, there are other CBD products on the market that I did not try such as lotions, bath bombs, and sprays. Maybe those would've affected me more, but I cannot didn't try them and thus cannot speak for that side.

I believe that CBD works differently for different people. So, yeah, it's legit, but it's not life-changing for each person. Don't expect to wake up in a dreamland after taking a drop or two. 

My vote: FOR REAL / FUN.

8. Ketogenic Diet

The highly discussed, community-based, meat-heavy ketogenic diet. Oof. My little disclaimer for this diet is that I am an ethical vegan, so I am naturally opposed to this diet due to it being heavy in animal products, which I believe are cruel and unnecessary to wellbeing.

Anyway, this diet is pure nonsense. It is a low in carbs, and high in fat and protein, but the primary goal is to lose fat and gain lean muscle. Anybody who is educated on nutrition knows that this diet is not smart. I'm not saying that you won't see fat-loss from this diet, you will, and quickly. But that information is misleading. The diet is not sustainable, as your body can only survive in a deficit for so long. Thus, when you go back to your previous eating style, you will re-gain the weight you lost. Fast.

There are other negative side effects to the Keto 'lifestyle', such as irritability, constipation, lack of focus, intense hunger, and more. Why anybody thinks that is worth a few weeks of looking slimmer, I'm unsure. When people hear 'fat loss' and 'quick' they automatically associate it with the word 'health', and that is where they're wrong. We are not naturally meant to be in 'ketosis', which is a metabolic state that raises your ketone levels in the body. What's crazy to me is that people with diabetes are frequently in this state (diabetic ketoacidosis) and try to TREAT it, while others are trying to obtain it.

I cannot tell anybody how to eat or what to eat. Only you know what's right for your body. But, I will suggest you treat your body kindly. Feed it right with the nutrients it needs in order to thrive instead of focusing solely on becoming slim.

My vote: FAD.

9. Gluten-Free Diet (without an allergy)

I often hear people declaring proudly that they are going "gluten-free", or eating a dessert and saying it's healthy because there is a GF label on it. Sorry to burst your bubble, but gluten free does not equal healthy. Of course a gluten-free diet is necessary when you have an allergy or celiac disease, but the same gluten-heavy grains that celiacs are not able to eat are packed with heart-healthy benefits. It can be harmful to skip out on these foods, and there is no real data that gluten is 'toxic'. Dr. Leffler, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard, says that people who go gluten-free unnecessarily "will derive no significant benefit. They'll simply waste their money..."

My vote: FAD.

10. Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is the new craze that seems to be popping up in every smoothie bowl and bliss ball on Instagram. It is a dark powder made from various sources that is used to "trap" toxins and chemicals. It is best for you when it's derived from coconut shells or another natural source.

After trying it, I can totally see why people are loving this magical, toxin-absorbing powder. It does everything from whitening your teeth to being more effective than a stomach pump. Crazy, but legit. I can't say I felt the toxins fly out of my ears when I put it in my smoothie, although I did enjoy consuming it with an understanding of how it was helping my body. However, I did see a difference in my teeth. It works because activated charcoal changes the pH balance in the mouth and absorbs plaque & microscopic stainers. As someone opposed to using chemical teeth whiteners, this seemed like the perfect solution. The powder was messy and weird looking to brush my teeth with, but I saw a slight difference in whiteness after only three brushes. There are tons of other benefits as well such as alleviating bloating, filtering water, preventing hangovers, and emergency toxin removal. 

I will use the powder primarily for food because cleaning up the black water that gets everywhere when I brush can be quite a process. However, I love the effects that it had so I will be using this toothpaste to get the job done instead.

My vote: FOR REAL.

11. Oil-Pulling

Oil-pulling is an Ayurvedic technique that suggests swishing oil around in your mouth (preferably on an empty stomach) for 20 minutes. It is supposed to draw toxins out of your body that improve your dental and overall health. I found about about oil-pulling when health influencers began to recommend and talk about it. Some claim that it has cleared their skin, helped their asthma, whitened their teeth, and even alleviated headaches.

I find myself conflicted on this one. Sure, it works if you do it consistently, but I just cannot bring myself to. Swishing coconut oil around in your mouth for almost half an hour is gross! It gets nauseating after a while. Also, I get things started straightaway in the morning and do not have time to sit and swish. So, while this is legitimately beneficial, it won't work for me because I can never last the full, necessary time.

My vote: FOR REAL, but not worth the grossness & time.

12. Meditation

Meditation. Is. Legit. Sure, it's trendy. Sure, Insta-famous girls wearing Lulu Lemon pants drinking chlorophyll water are doing it, but that doesn't define the practice. Just like going to the gym, meditation is a workout for the mind. Though meditation stems from ancient Buddhist, Chinese, and Hindu traditions, it is now thought to be less about spirituality and more about concentration. A study conducted at Washington University found that meditation is beneficial and has the power to majorly increase your focus, which is great if...

I have seen amazing results from meditating every morning, and I now feel the difference when I skip it. As a type-A student whose mind is always racing, meditating is a must for me to quiet my mind and reflect. Even if it is hard to stay still at first, committing to a meditation practice was one of the best things I've ever done for myself, and I would recommend that anyone and everyone try it. My vote: FOR REAL.

13. Waist Trainers

Uh uh. No thank you. Goodbye. No matter how many Kardashians promote them, I will never be okay with waist trainers. The ugly truth about waist trainers is that they cause way more harm than good. The only reason why your shape would actually change is because you physically cannot eat as much, you sweat more, and your organs are being strangled. And really, it only changes your shape temporarily. As soon as you take a break from wearing it, you will revert back. It can even cause you to be dehydrated and your abdominal muscles to atrophy. I don't know about you, but that is not beautiful to me. If you are looking to lose weight, don't try dangerous trends. Instead, eat healthy and exercise. It is a lot safer and far more pleasant.

My vote: FAD.

14. Diet Ice Cream

I'd like to start this one by apologizing to everyone who is obsessed with Arctic Zero. Your nightly treat is doing more harm than good. Sorry! A low-fat, high-protein, 300 calorie per pint ice cream seems too good to be true, right? That's because it is. First off, the ingredients are not actually healthy. The second ingredient in Arctic Zero ice cream is whey protein concentrate. The other main ingredients are sugar alcohols, added fibers, and gum-based thickeners. Yum? I think not. Low calorie does not equal good for you. Consuming more calories from healthy sources is better than less calories that are chemically derived and non-organic, in my opinion. For example, Coconut Bliss Vanilla Island flavor is all organic and has real ingredients. It is made of just coconut milk, agave, coconut cream, vanilla extract, and vanilla beans. While it may be a few more calories than diet ice cream, it is much healthier in the long run. Here are some other healthy ice cream brands for when you're craving something sweet.

My vote: FAD.

15. Acupuncture

YinTang photo by Antonika Chanel (@antonikachanel) on Unsplash

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Being someone who is extremely scared of doctors and needles of any kind, you should trust me when I say that acupuncture is wonderful. Acupuncture is a part of Chinese medicine where thin needles are lightly inserted into the body, usually used for pain relief and healing. Some cancer patients use acupuncture as a complementary treatment. I spoke to one who said it totally calmed their nerves and took away a bit of the pain from chemotherapy.

As scared as I was to have needles stuck all over my body, the practitioner reassured me that it would not hurt after we talked about my life, health, and stress. I was shaking as she inserted them... but she was right, it didn't hurt! As soon as I got used to the feeling and relaxed a bit, it felt tingly and nice. My body transitioned into a state of serenity, and I felt calm walking out of our session. I wanted to climb into my bed and go to sleep right away.

Overall, I wouldn't say acupuncture is a crucial part of my life but I do think it was helpful, enjoyable, and did what it was supposed to.

My vote: FOR REAL. 

Summing it up!

The entire culture of health trends has majorly grown and taken hold societally over the last few years. I love wellness crazes as much as the next person, but we as consumers need to be aware of the dangerous and overpriced products that are doing nothing for us, rather than continuing to blindly buy them because they're celebrity-endorsed. Some of these trends can be super beneficial and fun, so it is important to do your research, try methods out for yourself, and form an opinion based on what's right for your body.

Most importantly, enjoy the wellness, trends, and fun products you decide to buy or partake in.