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Coconut oil, gluten-free diets and other fads you should think twice about

These health fads may not be as good as you think

From SheKnows Canada
When a fad pops up and gains momentum, its original purpose sometimes gets lost along the way. Before jumping on the bandwagon, ask yourself this: How is this intended to be of benefit?

Coconut oil

In your food? Sure. On your legs after shaving? Why not. On your face? Probably not a good idea. Coconut oil is still, as its name suggests, an oil. Would you apply butter to your face with the hope to clear your acne? Nope. Then think about the pore-clogging effects oil (of any kind) will have. Whether it be as a face wash or a leave-on moisturizer, unless you have never had a pimple in your life, this is not a great idea. If you are looking for a simple facial moisturizer, then try an over-the-counter, fragrance-free face cream proven to not clog pores. If you are looking to effectively treat your acne, then speak to your physician about your options.

Gluten-free diet

What I am about to say does not in any way apply to people who actually suffer from celiac disease. In fact, these words are not even intended for those who believe they suffer from gluten insensitivity (although the medical community is still split on whether or not this truly exists). This fad truly went astray when people started following it with the hope to lose weight and improve their health. In theory, it's a great idea. A lot of bad stuff and wasted calories contain gluten (pasta, cake, crackers — the list goes on). By avoiding these foods (and thus avoiding many processed foods), you are sure to improve your health and possibly even lose weight. The problem is, there are so many gluten-free options now that people are replacing a processed food containing gluten with a processed food without it. At the end of the day, gluten-free cake is still cake, and gluten-free crackers are still crackers. Stick to eating fresh, unprocessed food (with and without gluten) whenever possible, and your body will thank you.

Homemade baby food

There is nothing better than homemade pureed fruit and vegetables for a baby — no arguments here. If you prefer to make all your own baby foods, then go for it. Good for you. However, there is a clear line that is drawn in the sand at infant formula. Do not make your own infant formula. You might think you're doing what is best — what is healthiest — for your baby, but you are mistaken. Making your own formula puts your baby at a much higher risk of malnutrition and infection. Store-bought formulas undergo rigorous testing before being allowed to hit the shelves; your recipe has not. This has become such an issue that the Canadian Paediatric Society has had to release a statement on it. Please, for the health and safety of your child, use only breast milk or store-bought formula for your baby before (at least) 9 months of age. Solids can be added between 4 and 6 months of age. This is where your homemade food will come in handy.

Yoga

Once again, the theory was right: Yoga has fantastic health benefits. I recommend it all the time in my office. It will improve your flexibility, tone your muscles and even help with relaxation, leading to lowered blood pressure, elevated mood, lowered stress and improvement in depression and anxiety symptoms. However, yoga is rarely a form of aerobic exercise, because it doesn't raise your heart rate enough for the intended effects. If you eat the same and otherwise exercise the same, then attending yoga class twice a week will not have any impact on your weight loss goal. If weight loss is what you're looking for, then assess your eating habits (as eating is 90 per cent of the weight loss battle), and add in an aerobic exercise, such as running, swimming or biking three to five times a week.

E-cigarettes

If you are trying to quit smoking, congratulations! It is a big accomplishment to get to the point where you're ready to do something substantial to help you quit. Unfortunately your e-cigarette, which you picked up because a friend told you how great they were for smoking cessation, may be doing you more harm than you think. Many (but not all) e-cigarettes still contain nicotine. The scary part about this is that the amount of nicotine is not regulated. This means you might be quitting regular cigarettes just to get addicted to something with a high (and variable) nicotine content that is no better for your health. Many people switch to e-cigarettes with the intention of quitting but are unable to stop smoking them because of their (new) addiction. Instead, take a look at the nicotine replacement options, such as the patch, the inhaler or the gum. Even better yet, speak with your physician about your options and what would be best for you — it might be the nicotine-free prescription medication.

Remember, if a fad doesn't make sense or it sounds too good to be true, chances are you're right!

More on health fads

5 Fitness fads to avoid in the new year
Pros and cons of top fad diets
Eating right: The anti-fad diet

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