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7 health trends that really aren't that good for you

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Every day, I scroll through my Instagram feed and see women doing super-tough workouts and eating super-healthy meals.

And every day, I feel bad about myself because I’m not being as healthy as I should be.

I could always be eating better. Drinking more green smoothies. Working out more. Signing up for more marathons. Cutting out sugar and wheat. But you know what? Not every health trend is a good one – and we don’t necessarily need to be beating ourselves up for not jumping on every bandwagon that comes our way.

I spoke to a whole lot of experts to find out the health trends you should either be investigating closely, or avoiding altogether…

1. Juice cleanses

Feeling sluggish, bloated and unhealthy? Juice cleanses and detoxes have been all the rage for a couple of years now for clearing away those feelings… and leaving you with a very empty (but flat) tummy.

I like a juice as much as the next person, but have never been a fan of the idea behind cutting everything out of your diet – except for juice.

Luckily, dietitian Charlene Grosse has told me that if you’re feeling a bit crappy about yourself, there’s really very little need to even do a detox of any kind: “Healthy adults have extraordinary systems for removing toxins from our bodies every day. Our lungs, kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract and immune system remove and neutralise toxic substances within hours after we eat them. DAA warns that there is no scientific evidence to suggest our bodies need ‘help’ to remove these toxins.”

So go ahead and have that juice – just make sure that you’re including a regular, balanced diet in there too. It’ll keep you happier, healthier and avoid those awful feelings of food deprivation that will drive you absolutely crazy.


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2. Mud runs

Events such as Tough Mudder and the Mud Run have been going off for the last few years – and they are so much fun to do. However, it’s worth being careful as you run through mud and complete those obstacles. Most importantly… keep your mouth closed.

Why? Because poo. That’s why.

These kinds of events are often held in rural-ish locations that can also host animals, so there's a chance for animal bacteria and mud to mix. Add yourself into the equation, and you may just end up with a super nasty-surprise.

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In just May this year, 22 people became extremely unwell after competing in a long-distance adventure obstacle course that contained contaminated water from cow or pig faeces.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report that confirmed they had been been sickened by Campylobacter coli, which causes serious diarrhoea.

Yeah... fun.

3. Extreme workouts

These days, it seems fitness is all about going hard or going home. Crossfit has taken off around the world - and it's the kind of workout that regularly has people peeing themselves because they're working SO DAMN HARD.

However, health and wellness expert Kirsty Welsh that you should listen to your body. If it feels like doing a hard workout, do it - but if your body is in more of a rest-day mood, make sure you're resting up.

"We need to get out of this mindset that every workout has to be a hard one," she says. "You don't need to be smashing yourself into the ground. Some days I wake up and just know that I need to have a stretch or do some yoga instead of going for a run - just listen to your body and what it's telling you."

Otherwise, you may be facing serious injuries rather than extreme fitness benefits.

4. Clay eating

Clay-eating (and drinking) has been going off in health and wellness circles for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's an appetite suppressant, so you lose weight. Secondly, there are various claims that it flushes toxins from your body and helps with things like digestion and circulation.

However, according to the wise words of dietitian Charlene Grosse, the clay diet could potentially cause more harm than good: "There is no evidence to support the claims that clay ‘flushes’ toxins from your body and the presence of the clay in the gut, or the ‘binding’ action specified in the diet outline may reduce the absorption of important vitamins and minerals.”

Also? The safety of the clay is seriously questionable. "Clay may be a vehicle for different bacteria or chemicals that are present in soil,” says Charlene. “If people are replacing nutrient-rich foods in their diet with clay this may make it difficult to meet your nutritional needs. This can be dangerous, especially for children, adolescents, pregnant or breastfeeding women and older adults. A healthy diet should be balanced and contain a variety of healthy foods to meet individual nutritional needs.”

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'Divergent' star Shailene Woodley is an advocate of eating clay.

5. Protein shakes

You can't go to the gym without seeing at least one person carrying a protein shake in the telltale plastic tumbler. But are they really that good for you?

Dietitian Nicole Senior has previously told me that protein shakes can be really high in kilojoules, which doesn't exactly suit your weight loss goals: "For weight loss, there may be some benefit in including protein containing foods at each meal and snack but this does not require protein shakes because many foods naturally contain protein."

Health and wellness expert Kirsty Welsh has also previously weighed in on the protein shake debate, pointing out that if you do go for one, you need to read the ingredients list - and read it carefully. "It’s so important to do your research first – the most important point being the source of protein. Whey is the most common, but more often than not it is combined with toxic ingredients that make it taste appealing but are indigestible and ultimately doing more bad than good. Whatever you choose, just make sure that it is nourishing your body, and be careful of clever marketing. If it is cookie-dough-flavoured, it should probably not enter your digestive system."

The best way to pick a good quality protein? "The presence and stinkiness of flatulence afterwards," Kirsty says. "Sorry to be straight forward but it’s true!"

6. Gluten-free diets

Lauren McGuckin, a Spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, says that there's absolutely no reason to cut out gluten unless you have a diagnosed gluten intolerance. "The gluten thing is very much for people are in dire need of following gluten-free and that needs to be confirmed through tests and an endoscopy," she says. "It’s more of a hit on the hip pocket rather than anything else. Also, when going gluten-free, people tend to cut down on the high carbohydrate, bread and cereals group so you can miss out on certain nutrients."

7. Any diet that involves cutting out carbs or sugar

"There are a lot of elimination diets kicking around these days, and these diets tend to eliminate or demonise particular food groups – which, all in balance, all in moderation, form a picture of a healthy diet in an individual," dietitian Lauren McGuckin says.

"Many of them do have their good points but there are drawbacks that lead to nutritional shortfalls. Everything just has to be taken with a grain of salt and there’s no one size fits all diet. Everyone tends to promote a very narrow approach with eating but I try to break it down with eating and teach people what’s in food products and how they can be incorporated into a healthy, whole-foods kind of diet.

8. Cronuts

Just kidding. They're great for you. Go for your life. ;) ;)

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