There’s being diligent about your health, and then there’s being over the top with all of the latest nutrition trends.
Just because something is trendy, doesn’t mean it’s going to be beneficial to your personal health journey. In fact, it might end up doing the opposite.
With the technology available to them, I’m finding that people are drilling their bodies and down to numbers and metrics under the guise of ‘being healthy’ – and a lot of the trends you’ll see in this post are all about that sort of thing.
It’s nice to know what’s going on with your body, but biohacking your every bodily function can create a lot of anxiety (and it’s just one more thing one your plate).
Especially if you don’t really know what you’re looking for. And especially if the information you’re getting is pretty much useless.
Other trends – particularly ones that pop up on social media and are promoted by people who have no relevant training in health or nutrition, are just…well….fads. Nothing to see here, folks. Move right along.
Here are the top nutrition trends that you can ignore.
Nutrition Trend: Not snacking for gut health.
One of my followers recently sent me the post you see below.
This was done by a ‘clean’ blogger who is a kinesiologist but is clearly mistaken if she thinks she should be advising people on their nutrition.
Just because you have a kinesiology degree doesn’t mean that you’re an expert in anything besides body movement, and this is a great example of someone going far beyond their scope of practice.
Migrating Motor Complex sounds weird, but it’s a very normal function of the intestines. It’s essentially the way the gut cleans itself between meals, during a fast – using smooth muscle contractions to ‘clean up’ the intestines of undigested food that might be left behind.
This person, who is a advocate of fasting (which is consistent with this post, which furthers her agenda), wrongly states that snacking disrupts the MMC and can lead to poor gut health.
Such a misrepresentation of how the body works.
It’s surprising that people can make false statements like these and just get away with it, but here we are.
My friend Desiree Neilsen RD, who specializes in gut health, had this to say about the MMC: It’s the idea of constant eating. There is a gridlock because you keep adding all that extra food every 1-2 hours into the stomach and small intestine, and it gets bogged down in the large intestine, which can cause bloating.
If you’re constantly putting food into your small intestine, you’re not going to get the strongest ‘third wave’ of the MMC, which is the one that clears the intestine, and only occurs at a specific time during a fasted state.
Do I tell everyone not to snack? Of course not. That’s garbage, fear mongering advice.
Snacking is good. If you’re hungry, you should eat.
Should you be eating constantly? Probably not.
Does snacking lead to poor gut health through inhibition of the MMC? Not under normal circumstances it doesn’t.
The MMC happens between meals, but it’s a bodily function that happens behind the scenes. We don’t need to make time for it by not eating…how did humans exist before we knew about this stuff? Did everyone have horrible gut health?
Nutrition Trend: Wearing a CGM if you’re not diabetic.
This is one nutrition trend I see everywhere. I’ve even seen dietitians getting into it, which is beyond disappointing.
I totally understand why watching your blood sugar rise and fall after eating would be fascinating. Like, once in a while.
But wearing a CGM to closely monitor your blood glucose when you’re not diabetic is absurd.
The same people tend to believe that anything that makes their blood sugar rise is ‘bad’…except that it isn’t. These people are usually following a keto diet, and use CGM readings to justify their choice to remove carbs from their diet.
But that reasoning is a mockery of normal physiology: Blood sugar rises after eating. It also goes down.
Yes, it will rise more if you eat a carb-heavy meal, or some fruit, but that’s NORMAL. It doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with you, and if you’re healthy, your body can more than handle the shift. You don’t have to stop eating carbs.
Being alarmed or vigilant about this process is unnecessary for most healthy people, and it creates anxiety around your body and its normal functions.
Also, and this is from my followers who have diabetes or diabetic kids: using a CGM when you don’t need one takes those resources away from people who actually DO need them.
Nutrition Trend: Cucumber with stevia ‘watermelon.’
This is complete diet culture BS. TikTok has the worst reputation for diet fads started by influencers, and this is one of them.
Apparently, if you sprinkle your cucumber with stevia, it makes cucumber that tastes like watermelon.
Stevia is gross, and watermelon is delicious. And like I said above, there’s no good reason to take carbs out of your diet – even though watermelon doesn’t have that many of them.
The fear of fruit is out of hand already – it’s a major red flag when anyone tells you not to eat it. So if you follow anyone like that, I highly recommend unfollowing them at your earliest convenience aka now!
Nutrition Trend: Getting your gut bugs tested.
There are a lot of microbiome testing kits like Viome that claim to use microbiome testing to optimize your diet and health.
These are all pretty much useless.
First of all, while your core gut bugs stay more or less the same, your microbiome changes often – depending on what you eat. So the stool sample you send Viome one day, might contain different bacteria the next day.
Most importantly, there is no science whatsoever that supports eating for your individual microbiome. The reason? Because we don’t know yet what the ideal microbiome looks like for each person.
Each bacteria that these tests identify, has different strains. But the tests don’t identify those strains. Even so, we have no idea which foods can affect which strains.
Even with gut bacteria that are associated with disease, we don’t know whether they cause the disease, or are present as a result of it.
Sure, eating a diet of whole foods and fewer ultra-processed ones seems to help our gut bacteria flourish (increased ‘richness’ is the proper term for this).
But giving arbitrary and random diet recommendations with ‘do’ and ‘do not eat’ lists to people based on their gut bacteria testing is a total sham. Especially when many of these foods are fibre-rich and healthful.
I’m sorry, but my gut bacteria won’t tell me if I should be eating blackberries but not apples.
But don’t expect any explanations as to why some foods are off limits: One woman commented about Viome, “I spent $299 (on sale from the regular $399) to get my sh*t tested and they can’t share with me why I should eat pumpkin seeds and not almonds.”
Nice try, Silicon Valley, but these tests are useless. At least for the moment.
Also: a lot of you have asked me to review Zoe. I’m in the process of trying to secure one of their kits so I can try it myself. They aren’t available in Canada, so I might be out of luck – will let you all know!
Nutrition Trend: Water fasting.
Fasting is a nutrition trend that won’t go away. But extended fasts? Please do not do this.
Water fasting is when a person eats nothing for multiple days. All they consume is water, hence the name ‘water fasting.’
While intermittent fasting might help some people lose weight, it’s no better than any other diets. And as far as extended fasting, there’s just no reason to do it.
A lot of water fasting proponents claim that extended fasts extend life and prevent disease.
That sounds great, but we don’t have any human studies that confirm this. All we have are animal studies, and those can’t be extrapolated to humans.
I talked a bit about water fasting in my post on Prolon – the fasting mimicking diet. Prolon was invented as a way to ‘water fast’ without actually doing that.
But the bottom line is this:
How badly do you want greater longevity?
Would you subject yourself to regular, prolonged fasts for the rest of your life, when they aren’t even proven to work in that way?
Also: Fasting doesn’t ‘reset’ anything, either.
Nutrition Trend: Using a device to see if you’re burning carbs or fat.
Short answer: who cares?
Lumen does, but the general population won’t really derive anything meaningful from this information.
If you’re on a keto diet, you might be interested in whether you’re burning fat, but like many of the ‘hacks’ out there, all you’re getting is information…there’s not a heck of a lot you can do with it.
Eventually, any device that tells you whether you’re burning fat or carbs will probably end up in your junk drawer.
Nutrition Trend: Personalized vitamins and shakes.
Companies know that personalized = makes people feel special. That’s why there are so many ‘personalized’ products out there now. But are they really going to transform your health over and above something you can buy at the drugstore?
The truth is that no matter what sort of supplements you’re buying, if you don’t need them, they won’t do anything for you.
Don’t be swayed into spending big bucks for the personalization of products that you don’t necessarily need. If you need supplements, skip the extra cost of personalization and buy what you need at the store.
Nutrition Trend: Hair testing.
Often used to justify ‘heavy metal detox’ BS, hair testing isn’t an accurate way to determine anything. Labs still offer it though, just like they offer IgG food intolerance testing. Probably because heavy metal detox fear mongering is an unfortunate nutrition trend.
Hair samples can definitely reveal exposure to certain heavy metals such as arsenic and lead, but they aren’t considered to be a good marker as to how much of those things a person has in their system.
Like a lot of alternative medicine tests and treatments, there’s a bit of science here, mixed with a huge amount of overblowing.
Heavy metal toxicity isn’t a risk for normal, healthy people who aren’t working and living around significant sources of heavy metals (or eating lead paint chips). Unfortunately, people spend money unnecessarily on these tests because they buy into the scare tactics of certain practitioners who sell them.
Hair testing for food intolerances isn’t accurate, either. Leave your hair in your head, where it belongs.
Nutrition Trend: What I eat in a day videos.
This nutrition trend is just UGH.
I just watched an impossibly thin woman in a bikini showing her 350K Instagram followers her ‘healthy vegan diet,’ which consisted of only fruit and vegetables the entire day.
It was literally one of the most toxic things I have ever seen on social media, and I’m already clapping back in the comments at her defenders.
WIEIAD videos are somewhat entertaining, but can go bad really quickly for someone who has a tendency towards disordered eating. Let’s face it: it’s hard to watch these videos and not compare yourself to the people in them.
Especially if the person in the video is pretending to be healthy, but demonstrating disordered eating and/or a messed up relationship with food and eating. On social media, those things tend to be wrongly associated with ‘health’ and ‘wellness.’
Just know that most of social media is completely fake/curated. You never know what happens behind the scenes in peoples’ lives, especially if you’re only getting their highlight reel.
We’re all different in genetics, socioeconomic status, likes and dislikes, upbringing, etc. How does what someone else is eating actually impact you?
A lot of nutrition trends are total garbage. What’s always going to be healthy is eating whole foods, optimizing your relationship with food and your body (try my book, Good Food, Bad Diet for help with this), and tuning out the rest of the nutrition noise out there.