The study tested how a keto diet would affect the host against a lethal influenza infection. (File photo via Pixabay.com)

7 popular health trends: What to try and what to ignore

Each year, you’ll see ads about particular health trends. You may also hear your friends talking about what they’re eating or a diet they’re trying, and you may wonder if some of these trends are worth trying.

For nurses trying to balance the demands of their jobs with their nutritional needs, some trends may be worth a try, while others aren’t.

“I think some trends can be very helpful, but they can also lead to misinformation,” points out Emily Hamm, nutritionist at Northside Hospital.

» RELATED: Intermittent fasting pros and cons: Should nurses try it?

For companies that are marketing new products, diets or other nutrition-related trends, the point is often about making an extra dollar, she said. While you may benefit from some trends, others can be a waste of money or even harmful.

The following are seven health trends that local nutritionists are seeing:

Protein

A current trend is to include protein in many different products – even water, Carrie Claiborne, outpatient clinical dietitian at Emory Johns Creek Hospital, said. 

Although our bodies do need protein, we’re probably already getting enough in our diets without buying protein water.

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting – the diet where you don’t eat for a specific number of hours – is a trend that Claiborne describes as “ … the new ‘Don’t eat past 6 o’clock.’ “Your body doesn’t know what time it is,” she pointed out, and many of the people she sees using this type of diet tend to make up for missed calories later in the day.

Instead, she recommends eating small, frequent meals throughout the day.

Prebiotics and probiotics

Prebiotics – specialized plant fibers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut – and probiotics – which contain live bacteria that add to the production of healthy microbes in your gut – are popular, according to Hamm.

These are often marketed in pill form, but, as she points out, they’re also found in foods. If you eat a healthy, balanced diet, you probably won’t need pre- or probiotics in a pill form.

» RELATED: 9 weight loss tips for busy nurses

Plant-based foods

“Plant-based is a thing, but it does not necessarily mean that it is healthy,” Claiborne cautions. “A lot of the plant-based foods that are marketed to us like the Beyond Burger – the saturated fat is just as high, and the sodium is even higher than a regular burger.”

If you’d like to go vegetarian or vegan or simply reduce the amount of meat in your diet, she recommends eating more natural plant-based proteins such as beans or lentils.

Eating for your genetics

Claiborne has seen interest in eating for your genetics and expects interest to increase as more people become interested in genetic testing through companies such as 23andMe. She believes that you can have two people who eat the same things and exercise at the same rate but have different weights, so she’s interested to find out more in the future about eating for your genetics as more research is done.

“I don’t think we’re quite there yet,” she explains.

Keto diet

“Keto is a big thing,” Claiborne said of the low-carb, high-fat diet. But it’s not very healthy in terms of saturated fat, and we don’t know a lot about its long-term effects.

Hamm also shared concerns about the diet and said it can be especially problematic or even dangerous for people who have a family history of heart disease.

Meal prep and delivery kits

Hamm has noticed that meal prep kits and meal delivery kits seem to be very popular in realms of marketing and social media.

“Anything that’s quick and easy, people like,” she said. 

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