Which Health Trends Are Worth the Hype?

Which Health Trends Are Worth the Hype?

When the new Big Thing in health is, you know, healthy, we celebrate. (All hail, avocado toast on whole-wheat bread!) All too often, however, these fads are more style than substance. Here, a few health trends we’re loving — and ones we were done with yesterday.

Love It: Fermented Foods

Kimchi, kefir, kombucha, yogurt, miso, sourdough — eaters are digging fermented and cultured foods. Consider kombucha: this $600 million global industry in 2015 is projected to rise to $1.8 billion in 2020. “Researchers increasingly believe probiotic bacteria in the gut are ‘driving the bus’ in many areas of physical and even emotional and mental health,” says nutritional therapist Jenna Hollenstein, MS, RD, author of “Eat to Love.” “Fermented foods help keep these bacteria in balance — I’m a big fan.”

Love It: Plant-Forward Eating

We’ve been veggie-obsessed for years and love that plants are gaining mainstream traction as the star of the plate, with meat taking a supporting role. Nearly 60% of adults say they want to eat less meat and more plant protein. “You don’t even need to be vegan or vegetarian to get the benefits,” says Maya Feller, MS, RD, an adjunct professor at New York University. Research shows that people who get 70% of their protein from plant sources have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke than those with meat-centric diets.

Love It: Sparkling Water

You used to see seltzer only in upscale restaurants. Now, even gas stations carry an ocean of options. Americans drank more than 800 million gallons of the stuff in 2018, almost triple what we sipped 10 years ago. Meanwhile, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (including soda) is down 25% in the last 20 years. We still love you, plain H2O, but if bubbly water gets more people to give up soda, we’re all for it: swapping your drink for one with no added sugars may help stave off weight gain, diabetes and heart disease.

Over It: Functional Beverages

Turmeric tonics. Mushroom smoothies. Protein coffee. Functional beverages like these are hot. Globally, we’ll spend $93 billion on them this year. Our take: these drinks are fine as a bonus, but they’re not a replacement for a balanced diet. And check the nutrition — we found one 15-ounce bottle that packed 420 calories.

Over It: DIY Elimination Diets

We all know someone who doesn’t do gluten or dairy or soy. And for some it’s a health necessity. But for anyone considering cutting out an entire category of food, it’s important to go about it the right way. Elimination diets are complicated and can have unintended consequences, like nutrient deficiencies, so they’re best undertaken with help from your doctor or a dietitian.

Over It: Bulletproof Coffee

This java calls for up to 2 tablespoons of butter. Sure, we know that saturated fat isn’t a total devil, but this amounts to 60% of your recommended maximum for the day — and 200-plus calories — before you even sit down for a meal.

(EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.)