Be Wary of Health Fads

by Janice Carlin, PhD, CHHP, CHNP, CNHP

Copyright © 2014 Janice Carlin

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We all want to be healthy. The problem is that there is too much conflicting information available to us and most people just don't know what to listen to as the truth.

I get really fed up with people who claim to experts leading others toward their own special health product or fad diet that is supposed to fix everything and make their lives all better. Because the truth is that these people don't know you or your family. They don't know your lives, your genetics, your environment. They don't know who you are and what you need. And additionally, most of these experts haven't experienced what you or your children have.

Here are some of the really serious ones to watch out for:

Any kind of vitamin drink. These are usually filled with sugar and chemicals. They will just make you gain weight. The vitamins are synthetic and not of high quality.


Anything labeled "gluten free." Now, I am a huge no-gluten diet advocate for many reasons. However, I know that when products are labeled "gluten free" they often contain other starches like rice, other grains, or tapioca, cassava, corn or potato. All these products will do is make you gain weight and cause insulin resistance because they are so full of non-nutritive carbohydrates (i.e. sugar to your body). Don't look at the marketing; read the ingredient labels to decide what to purchase and consume. Not only are the starchy ingredients sugary, they are most often not organic and contain genetically engineered ingredients. These simply are not safe for consumption.


Anything labeled "sugar free". Yes, sugar is a bad no-no. But if something tastes sweet and does not contain sugar, it will contain something else. Some sweeteners are natural like honey and pure stevia, while some are artificial, chemical sweeteners. Synthetic sweeteners are toxic to the body. Becoming more and more popular today are sugar alcohols like xylitol and erythritol. These sugar alcohols can cause a lot of digestive distress for some people. Read the actual ingredient labels and don't just buy something because it says it is sugar free. In fact, aspartame as been linked in scientific studies to actual weight gain as it makes you crave more and more sweetness. (


Anything labeled "All Natural". This label means literally nothing in the U.S. Anyone can use these words on the label of their products without regulation. And natural does not mean organic. If it is natural, you will know because it contains only natural (non-processed and without chemicals) ingredients.


"Healthy alcohol". A vendor actually asked me once in a health food grocery store if I would like to try some healthy alcohol. It was made from "super healthy coconut water" so it was better for you than regular beer. Um... No! Alcohol is toxic to the liver and it doesn't matter what it's made from.


Fruit smoothies and fruit juices. For a non-diabetic, a little bit of fruit is a healthy thing. However, fruit smoothies and juices are extremely high in sugar (fructose). We are told that fruit in any form is healthy and that as long as it is pure fruit sweetened, it is all right and good for us to consume. This is just not true. Fructose is sugar and it has the same effect of raising blood glucose levels and causing weight gain as any other kind of sugar - it just has some vitamins and antioxidants that come along with it. When you take a bunch of fruit and blend it up or juice it, you are basically predigesting it so that when you consume it, your blood sugar will rise more quickly than if you had eaten just one piece of fruit and had to chew it to break down the cell walls. If you are trying to lose weight or trying to provide more nutrition to your kids, juice vegetables or at least add some green leafy veggies to your fruit smoothies.


Evaporated cane juice - the "healthy sugar". No, it is not healthy. I actually had the owner of an herbal healing shop tell me once that the bars she was selling at the counter were healthy when I refused to buy one for my son, because they contained the "healthy kind of sugar." It was evaporated cane juice. Sugar is sugar. Sugar from sugar beets is most likely GMO in the U.S., but cane juice is still toxic to the body, causes weight gain and insulin resistance, hyperactivity, and sugar rushes and subsequent crashes. Even "all natural" candy that contains sugar is still harmful to your body. It may not contain synthetic flavors or colors, but the sugar will hurt you.


Energy drinks. Energy comes from inside of you. If you need more energy, eat some protein, drink some water, sit in the sunshine, or take a power nap. Energy drinks do not give you real energy, they give you a sugar or caffeine rush. Stay away from these toxic soups that are most definitely not natural or health-promoting.


Any type of supplement that contains synthetic preservatives and/or additives. If a company is really aligned with helping people to be healthy, they will not add toxic chemicals to their products. Choose your supplements wisely.


Drinks, smoothies, bars, or meal replacements for weight loss. The key to weight loss is controlling your diet, not eating toxic, chemical-filled bars and smoothies. There are so many fad diets out there and people really end up suffering because they never truly teach them how to eat properly to lose and maintain healthy weight. Stay away from the fads and learn how to be a healthy eater for life.

The overall key is to avoid marketing ploys. When you purchase and ingest pure, whole, organic foods, you are on the best track to setting yourself and your family up to being healthy. Read the labels and ignore the marketing and you will be okay in a world where untruths run rampant.