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Hindsight 2020: A few of the worst health trends of the decade

By in Sports & Health

The most popular kind of New Year’s resolutions people make are focused on ways to improve one’s health. While wanting to improve your lifestyle is a great thing, we should look back to the past now that it is 2020 and consider what health fads actually proved to be the most flawed.

It comes as no surprise in this digital decade that people have more access to health information than ever before. However, the internet also helps disseminate the medical advice of unqualified “experts” and popularize trendy celebrity health fads overnight.

In retrospect of a decade of misinformation, here are three of the worst trends to avoid to focus attention on choices that will actually make you healthier.

Shawna Langer/ Graphics Editor

Activated charcoal products

A recent health trend to sweep the globe and consumers pockets was the unprecedented rise of activated charcoal products. Within the blink of an eye, it seemed like you could get anything with some black substance in it and the promise of charcoal’s “detoxifying effects.”

Activated charcoal is quite a versatile product and is sold in anything from face masks to oral supplements. Even though doctors can use this black powder to treat drug overdoses, there is no scientific evidence supporting that the consumption of it has any actual health benefits.

But the most popular activated charcoal product to appear on the internet was its use in toothpaste. Across social media, one could find people brushing black ash all over their pearly whites. While promises of a brighter smile appeal to everybody, the Canadian Dental Association has yet to approve products containing activated charcoal because they can be overly abrasive on teeth.

Going gluten-free when you are not celiac

Before this decade began, it seemed like most people were completely unaware that gluten even existed. When individuals without celiac disease found out about this protein complex, having a gluten-free diet supposedly became synonymous for being healthier.

The retail sales of gluten-free food in Canada raised from $179 million in 2008 to $812 million by 2017, an astronomical 450 per cent increase. While approximately 2.5 million Canadians require gluten-free products for medical reasons, there are seven million Canadians who perceive these foods to be healthier and are mostly contributing to the rapid growth of the market.

Even if gluten-free products are more popular than ever, it is still debatable whether the diet has health benefits or causes adverse effects for people without celiac disease. Many believe that a gluten-free diet helps alleviate gastrointestinal problems. But following this popular lifestyle trend also puts people at risk of developing nutrient deficiencies in iron, calcium and vitamin D.

Vaping is safe

Certainly, nobody started vaping solely because they thought it was good for their health. But when vaping was first introduced to consumers, a main selling point was that it was a healthier alternative to smoking and could help nicotine fiends kick their addictions.

As vaporizers evolved from clunky boxes favoured by the guys drifting in the parking lot after high school into the sleek JUUL’s sold at every convenience store, vaping is now more popular than ever. An $11.5 billion dollar industry in 2018, e-cigarettes are not being used to wean people off tobacco but instead introducing more people to nicotine.

One of the biggest demographics being drawn to the delicious candy, cucumber and melon vaporizer flavours are minors. A study from The British Medical Journal found that during 2017 to 2018 youth vaping in Canada increased by 74 per cent.

While the appeal of huffing delicious vapour is understandable, the long-term health risks of consuming the vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol used to flavour products are still unknown. In a cruel irony the early promise that vaporizers could help people end their addictions has backfired as one study found that e-cigarettes may have a higher addictive potential for young people than cigarettes. 

Noah Callaghan/ Staff Writer

Graphic: Shawna Langer/ Graphics Editor

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