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An Expert Breaks Down 11 Viral Health Trends

Written by
Yumna Farooq
Team Nutrisense
Reviewed by
Natalie Carroll
MS, RDN, CDN, CLC
a melon, peach and a glass of drink

If you’re familiar with the health and wellness space, you may still hear the echoes of celery juices past. 

Like any popular health trend, celery juice dominated most (if not all) of wellness enthusiasts’ social media feeds. It started with a few celebrities and then trickled into influencer posts. 

Before we knew it, people were sharing stories about how this trend cleared their skin, gave them more energy, helped their gut health and digestion, and helped with overall wellness. 

Since celery juice, many other health trends have had their 15 minutes of fame. In this post, an expert from our Nutrition Team, Stephanie Etherington, RDN, CD, CDCES, breaks down 11 other popular health trends and if they’re that healthy or just nutrition myths. 

11 Viral Health Trends: Nutrition Myths or Healthy Staples?

From date syrup and rosemary water to dry scooping and frozen honey, should you be trying every new trend that hits TikTok? How can you tell which ones may help and which ones to steer clear of? 

Read on as Stephanie breaks a few down to help you learn more about their potential benefits and risks. 

1) Date Syrup 

a date

Date syrup is an alternative sweetener to sugar (white sugar, brown sugar), and it's basically liquified dates.

Date syrup is made by heating dates in water, blending them, straining out the mixture, and evaporating any remaining water. The result is a smooth, concentrated syrup that has hints of caramel. 

Because it’s made using the whole date (minus the pit and inedible parts, of course), you’re still getting all of the nutrients… but let’s see what our expert thinks. 

What Stephanie Thinks

First of all, who doesn’t love a product that has a single ingredient!

Second of all, yes, compared to white table sugar, date syrup contains more nutrients in the form of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, we still need to be mindful that this is a concentrated source of sugar. 

Date syrup has a lower glycemic index than maple syrup or honey, so this may benefit glucose control. But, it’s always best to test your own unique response using a tool like a continuous glucose monitor

2) Nettle Tea

a glass of tea

This popular tea has circulated the women’s health space for a while now. It's popular mainly for its suggested hormone-balancing properties...much like spearmint tea. You may have also heard of this tea if you’ve been looking for natural or homemade remedies for blood glucose control.

Let’s dig into what nettle is and if it provides any benefits other than being trendy and tasty as an iced tea. 

What Stephanie Thinks

Nettle tea is a Chinese medicinal tea. It’s rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that have shown promise in reducing overall inflammation. Polyphenols may also help prevent and manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, and obesity.

It's important to note here that, as with most teas, the other nutrients are relatively diluted. 

A small study found that those with advanced type 2 diabetes found an overall lowering effect on fasting and postprandial glucose values and a decrease in A1C. These participants all took one 500 milligram capsule of nettle leaf extract every eight hours for a period of three months. 

3) Rosemary Water

a jar of rosemary

The rosemary water trend is similar to how people approach rosewater's benefits. You take some rosemary, steep it in boiling water, and discard the herb. Longer steeping times will result in a more potent concoction.

What Stephanie Thinks

This is an interesting one. There have been recent claims that rosemary water may reverse the effects of aging

And while rosemary does contain antioxidants that aid in the fight against harmful molecules such as free radicals, this is not your magic bullet.

But the herb itself can be beneficial. Some studies suggest that rosemary may benefit cognitive function and memory.

4) Steeping Lettuce in Water

Similar to rosemary water, this trend involves placing lettuce in boiling water. 

The idea is that the steeping allows for nutrients from this vegetable to be extracted into the water, making for a healthier drink option.  

What Stephanie Thinks

There have been a few TikTok videos circulating that claim that steeping lettuce in water (like tea) may help improve sleep. 

This stems from the idea that certain leafy greens, such as green leaf romaine, contain a compound called lactucin, which has sedative properties. 

While studies have been conducted on green romaine extract, it is unlikely you will experience this same effect with a simple leaf of romaine. 

But it certainly won’t harm you. And if a placebo effect helps improve your sleep, especially given the enormous impact of sleep deprivation on overall health, we’ll take it.

5) Freezing Honey

a cup of honey

Like the other health trends in this post so far, freezing honey is self-explanatory — it’s frozen honey. 

People typically put the honey in a bottle, leave it in the freezer for eight hours or overnight, and then eat it like a popsicle. 

According to social media comments, it’s a sweet, tasty, and refreshing treat. 

What Stephanie Thinks

This is another TikTok trend taking the internet by storm. You may want to think twice before consuming this concentrated carbohydrate source, given the potential for a glucose rollercoaster.

Two things to keep in mind here:

1) Pure honey will likely not freeze as expected, given its content is mostly sugar and very little water. 

2) When you’re freezing honey, it may lose some nutritional benefits through the crystallization process. 

6) Drinking Liquid Chlorophyll 

Liquid chlorophyll is an extract from the green pigment in plants. Usually, liquid chlorophyll is sold as a supplement. 

The supplement has been touted as a nutrient-dense addition to smoothies because of its health benefits. But do these promised benefits have any merit?

What Stephanie Thinks

One thing to note is that the liquid chlorophyll you may find is usually chlorophyllin, a semi-synthetic, water-soluble form of chlorophyll. Chlorophyllin is derived from chlorophyll but bound to copper instead of magnesium. 

There is not a ton of research to support taking chlorophyll in liquid form compared to eating whole food sources such as leafy greens. And it will likely not keep you as full as a fresh salad.

Some studies have shown that chlorophyllin may benefit your skin, helping improve acne, sun damage, and wound healing. 

Other claims include that chlorophyll made from juice wheatgrass can help improve the count and quality of red blood cells, but other studies show that chlorophyll is destroyed in the juicing process.

I always encourage whole food sources before juices, so if you are interested in boosting your chlorophyll intake, reach for foods like green beans, spinach, parsley, arugula, leeks, and peas.

7) Dry Scooping

a scooper and some powder

Do you remember the cinnamon challenge? Dry scooping is very similar to that. This trend involves eating a scoop of pre-workout powders without any water (explaining the dry part). 

What Stephanie Thinks

Dry scooping is not recommended. Many pre-workout supplements are high in caffeine, leading to heart palpitations, irregular heartbeats, and other dangerous cardiac complications (there has been at least one report of a heart attack resulting from dry-scooping). 

Beyond heart-related issues, consuming dry powder may result in inhalation and lung irritation. 

Just follow the ingredients on the packaging. You’ll get the desired results without the potentially dangerous side effects.

8) Protein and Coffee 

This trend is pretty self-explanatory and involves taking protein with your cup of joe. Some people claim it helps their body respond to the caffeine in the coffee better

What Stephanie Thinks

We know that we are more sensitive to food, particularly carbohydrates, on an empty stomach, and adding protein to your coffee may be one way to help mitigate spikes associated with breaking a fast.

Protein is a crucial component of any weight loss goal, and many people (women especially) struggle to consume their total recommended intake. Adding protein to your morning cup may help you achieve your macro goals.

Some use protein coffee as a pre-workout tool. Caffeine may help improve your athletic performance in the gym. However, studies show that protein pre-workout may not be of great benefit.

Try collagen peptides for a neutral-tasting, easily dissolvable source of protein in your coffee.

9) Papaya Seeds for Parasites 

two cut up papaya

There have been a lot of different “parasite cleanses,” from antiparasitic medications to antiparasitic herbs, but this may be one of the most interesting. 

Some people claim that papaya seeds can help flush out parasites. But is there any science behind this? 

What Stephanie Thinks

Before I answer that questions, I’d like to point out that intestinal parasites are relatively uncommon here in the US. So it's not something most people need to worry about. 

That said, some studies have shown that this is an effective remedy for eliminating parasites within the gastrointestinal tract. However, it’s important to note that the study mentioned is a pilot study, and research is still ongoing.

If you are concerned that you are suffering from a parasite, it’s best to see your doctor and provide a stool sample for a proper diagnosis.

10) Chia Water

Here’s another water-based remedy for you. This one involves putting chia seeds in water and drinking it. Some opt to let this mix set in the fridge for a while to get a thicker consistency. 

But if that’s not your thing, you can quickly mix the two and drink it immediately afterward. 

What Stephanie Thinks

Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, omega-3s, antioxidants, and even provide some protein. They have been found to benefit many different health issues, including reducing inflammation, improving heart health, and supporting glucose control. 

Their benefits are not limited to their consumption in water. You can use chia seeds as an egg alternative in baking, as the base for puddings, or as a salad topper for a little crunch!

Given the absorptive capabilities of chia seeds, this beverage may help to improve hydration levels. We also commonly see an improvement in satiety associated with improved hydration and the soluble fiber content.  

If you aren’t used to a lot of fiber in your diet, proceed with caution to avoid constipation and drink plenty of (non-chia seed) water.

11) Fire Cider

spicy peppers

Fire cider packs a punch! This concoction is made of horseradish, garlic, onion, ginger, and chile pepper. 

These ingredients are then infused in apple cider vinegar

What Stephanie Thinks

While fire cider has not been studied in the research, it is a low-risk intervention to treat colds and flu.  

Individually, the ingredients have been found to have antimicrobial and immune-boosting properties, and there are no contraindications to combining these strong, aromatic flavors. 

If you have a history of acid reflux and indigestion, it may be best to dilute this in water. Given the high proportion of apple cider vinegar in this tonic, it's particularly beneficial to do this. You can also consider drinking through a straw to avoid any damage to your tooth enamel.

Remember: consult with your doctor or nutritionist before trying any drastic health trends. 

A Final Note on Health Trends

While some of these trends can seem fun and promising, not all are healthy. And as you’ve learned through this post, some of them can be harmful to your health. 

It’s also important to note that nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all. While you may benefit from some trends (like chia water), don’t be discouraged if you don’t see benefits from all. 

The key to eating healthy is finding out and doing more of what’s good for you. Focus on foods that support your metabolic health and engage in health-boosting lifestyle activities like exercise. 

This individualized approach will get you much closer to your health goals than trying trendy concoctions as a long-term approach. 

Trends come and go, but there is no replacement for a balanced diet rich in whole foods, good sleep, and exercise!

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