Today I wanted to talk about common myths/old wives tales/scams that I commonly see in the health and fitness industry. But first, a story. When I was a child I remember seeing an advertisement for Sea Monkeys. It was awesome. A promise of getting these little buggers in the mail and doing nothing more than adding water then BOOM! I would have these little guys to play with and train to do tricks. Of course when I hatched the Sea Monkeys I got stinky swimming shrimp that did nothing but poop. I learned a valuable lesson from this. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
As a disclaimer, this is not the end all be all on these products. In fact, I have used/followed some of the things I’ll be going over. Information is constantly changing, so it is important to view things from a critical point of view. And if you disagree with me on anything, I welcome your feedback and any information to go along with it from a credible source. Disagreeing is not a bad thing. It’s how we all learn!
A * denotes a source that includes foul language
Supplements are a valuable tool for many reasons. However, not all of them hold water when we take a close look at what the supposedly do. In my opinion, the worst of the supplement industry scams are spread by celebrities, “natural” practitioners, “ancient remedies“, and of course word of mouth. All of these methods often push detox cleanses. In short, cleanses* DO NOT WORK. Your body is well equipped to rid itself of toxins, so don’t waste your hard earned moola. And with flu season ramping up, I would also like to mention that vitamin C and zinc won’t do squat to get rid of those sniffles. Get your flu shot*, wash your hands, and stay away from sick people.
So what does work? Well lots of supplements do! However, it’s important to ask a few questions before diving in. A good example is vitamin D. It’s very widely used, but asking “why” will determine if it, or any other supplement, is right for you. Check out this link for more info. Another question to ask is “is it worth it?” Lots of supplements claim to have a benefit. However, they can also come with risks. St. Johns Wart, for instance, may help with depression symptoms, but it also produces adverse reactions when taken with almost any drug. Talk to your doctor before starting any new supplements. Finally, supplements don’t have to label exactly whats in them. So make sure you buy high quality, do some research on the company, and verify the ingredients in the products you purchase.
Diet Scare Tactics & Fads
The internet is full of useful and science-backed information. It is also full of quacks and fear mongers. Here are a few example of what to look out for. Appealing to nature is by far the most common method of health advertising. But claiming something is “organic” or “natural” doesn’t really mean anything. Death cap mushroom, snake venom, even formaldehyde found in fruit is organic/natural. Conversely, chemicals are found in everything as well! And when it comes to GMO’s and antibiotics in meats… well there’s nothing to fear. In fact, in some cases GMO foods can prove to be superior or even save lives. And then there’s gluten. I can write for days on the wheat protein. For the most part, gluten’s deleterious effects are way over-hyped. It may in fact be the carbohydrates (fructans and galactans) associated with gluten causing the problem! But for those who it truly affects, there are some strategies that may be worth a try.
The Bottom Line
All sorts of fake stories and nonsense pop up on the internet every day, and it can sometimes be hard to spot the rubbish. In all, I’ve only touched on a few areas. Other oddities not included are the unreal health benefits of alkaline water, krill oil, essential oils, and the nonsense that is homeopathy. It comes down to dollars and cents. It’s the marketing* department’s job to sell a product, and that’s where a grain of truth will be stretched beaches long. So make sure you take a good long look at the credible evidence behind bigger and better health products you hear and see advertised. Because when it seems just too good to be true, it probably is.