There’s no other way to put this. Many of the wellness trends that have been circulating in the last few years are utter nonsense. Yes, you are what you eat and what we ingest on a daily basis is very important. Science is also revealing complex relationships between our brain, digestive system, and what’s called our microbiome—the millions of good (and bad) microbes that live in our gut.
We’re going to round up just a few of the wellness myths that require debunking for the sake of your gut. And if you’re asking if there’s any evidence that supports the so-called wellness or health benefits these products and procedures claim? The answer is a resounding no.
Detoxing and Juicing
Cleanses and detoxes are almost always trendy in different ways, shapes or forms. We’re overstressed, overworked, and had far too much to eat and drink over the weekend. How should we detox? Spinach and kale smoothies, ginger and garlic frappes, and a turmeric frittata?
Some people even detox in anticipation of Thanksgiving or other holidays or special events. But do they work and are they good for you? The answer is no.
According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch, studies show that fasts and low-calorie diets lower the body's basal metabolic rate because it struggles to conserve energy. So, while your detox may make your pants fit better, there isn’t any evidence that you’ve cleansed your system with long-lasting health benefits. In fact, you've put your metabolism at a disadvantage and depleted your energy levels.
Tea toxing is drinking tea that has additives in it to detox your system. However, these teas have a laxative effect that induces diarrhea and can lead to dehydration and a dangerous drop in electrolytes. This could also lead to the loss of important minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium that are flushed out, along with other bodily fluids. The practice, often advocated by celebrities on social media, supposedly helps cleanse your body of toxins and help you lose weight.
But it’s a seriously unhealthy trend that you need to avoid. Having an upset tummy is no fun and losing water is not the same as burning fat during a good cardiovascular workout.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Touted as the next cure-all for weight loss, alkalizing an acid system, easing gout, and being good for gut health, apple cider vinegar is best used in cooking and salad dressings.
Sure, it's relatively inexpensive and it may have benefits when used diluted and topically on the skin to treat eczema and for blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. But otherwise, it’s probably best to skip this so-called wellness trend completely, especially in large doses.
Not only can drinking apple cider vinegar erode tooth enamel, burn the soft tissues in your mouth, esophagus and stomach, but it can also delay digestive processes too. This is the last thing you want to do, especially if you suffer from bloating or gut cramps. Colonics and Enemas
This one started a while ago—remember Sex and the City with Sarah Jessica Parker’s character extolling the virtues of colonic irrigation. This is (probably) a very unpleasant procedure where water is pumped into your large and smaller intestines to cleanse your lower digestive tract. It’s said to help with bloating, constipation and weight-loss.
But it doesn’t. Our livers, kidneys, stool, and urine remove toxins from our bodies on a daily basis. There is no reliable evidence that colonics have any health benefits other than helping people who suffer from constipation.
Your gut is a complex system that includes colonies of bacteria that help to regulate many key body processes, including your metabolism. Having regular colonics and enemas may alter your microbiome and affect many other normal functions of your colon. Plus, there are always risks of damaging your colon or even perforating it
Eat More Fiber
The more fiber, the better is a big myth. Yes, we need fiber, but look at these optimal daily intakes and foods that contain fiber.
Fiber or roughage is vital for the digestive system and regular bowel movements, so it’s highly beneficial to overall health. Daily fiber intake should ideally be about 25 grams.
To give you an idea of what that could look like, consider these numbers:
2 pieces of whole-wheat bread = 4 grams
1 banana = 3 grams
1 cup of popcorn = 3.5 grams
1/2 cup of almonds = 8 grams
2 cups of pasta = 6 grams
1 apple = 4 grams.
So, don’t go mad with psyllium husks supplements three times a day and plate loads of roasted fibrous vegetables. Overloading your gut with fiber can be harmful and lead to bloating and intense pain.
Gluten Is Bad For Your Gut
In some cases, gluten is very bad for your gut. Particularly for people with coeliac disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects around 1% of the population. In people with coeliac disease, eating gluten causes the body to attack itself, resulting in damage to the small intestine.
Wheat allergies are said to be even rarer than coeliac disease. Some people test negative for both wheat allergy and coeliac disease in biopsies but suffer digestive upsets when eating wheat. This is known as Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). While the prevalence of these disorders is relatively low, as many as one-third of Americans say they are cutting down on gluten.
Besides those with a sensitivity to wheat, there is no reason that one-third of Americans should be cutting out wheat. In fact, gluten-free products often lack folic acid, fiber, selenium and vitamin B12, and those avoiding gluten are losing out on all of the good stuff.
What’s more, studies suggest that people following a gluten-free diet are more likely to eat insufficient amounts of heart-healthy whole grains. In one study, 80% of those following a gluten-free diet consumed less than half of the daily recommended grain servings.
Far from damaging your gut, whole grains are prebiotic foods that our good bacteria love!
So, for your gut’s sake, don’t believe the hype. Rather stick to science-backed boosters and wellness practices that have proven results. You’ll feel better, your body will be healthier, and your energy levels higher. And your gut will thank you for it!