From juice cleanses to gluten-free diets, there’s always a new health trend on the horizon that promises gratifying results for your body and mind. In an age of overwhelming amounts of information, we are constantly bombarded with breaking news about the next fitness or diet fads that will dramatically change our lives. But ironically, few of us can discern which trends are worth trying and which are worth tossing. Today, we consult with Luci Crow of Align Wellness Studio in Nashville, TN, on a few of the most popular health trends for 2016, and we give you the skinny (pun intended) on a few other hot health topics on the rise.

Expert Advice on 2016’s Top Health Trends

The trend: Interval training

The truth: Remember the miraculous 7-minute workout of 2013 that allowed time-saving minded men and women to shed weight and do it fast? Everyone and their mother jumped on that bandwagon, but does it really work? More health specialists are championing high-intensity interval training (IT) over endurance training. Regarded as one of the most effective ways to lose weight, build muscle and increase metabolism, IT kicked long distance exercise to the curb in 2015 and it’s a change made evident by successful studios like Iron Tribe and Orangetheory Fitness.

There’s loads of evidence regarding the benefits of climbing, jumping, sprinting, lifting (it really does burn fat and increase fitness levels in a short amount of time), but it’s certainly not for everyone. It can be tough on joints, has a higher risk of injury and can be difficult for those unaccustomed to sports. And, what many don’t know is that endurance training can burn equal if not more calories during the same training period.

Luci: “I like to approach interval training through body weight, using movements that are more adaptable to the body. I don’t think it’s necessary for people to have tons of equipment to get good training. Interval training is meant to be just that — an intense form of exercise that is done occasionally, not every single day. Each body is different and not all interval programs are modified to accommodate people of different fitness levels or with specific injuries. I recommend adopting a form of exercise that you can sustain for the rest of your life. Pilates, yoga, tai chi, walking, aqua aerobics, some barre, stationary cycling are all great options.”

Iron Tribe workouts push you to you max!

Iron Tribe makes getting into shape exciting. Their motivated team and fast-paced workout keep you on your toes!

The trend: Wearable technology

The truth: Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard the hype about the Fitbit, a revolutionary device worn like a watch that tracks your steps, calories burned and can even monitor your sleep. Wearable fitness technology continues to improve and other items have made a big splash in the fitness circle this year including Biosport Earbuds, which monitor heart rate, and Digitsole temperature-controlled shoe inserts, which track your mileage. While wearable technology has proven a great incentive to keep people active, users should be aware that they are tools to improve your fitness, not devices that should control your life.

Luci: “Accountability is always the best way to see results in your health and fitness, whether that is keeping a journal or using a wearable tracking device. People often don’t realize how sedentary they can be throughout the day. Conversely, for people with active lifestyles, it can be really encouraging to realize how many steps they have taken throughout the day. If anything, these devices can help you form really beneficial habits by making you more aware of your eating and fitness patterns.”

Digitsole shoe inserts are the next wave of wearable technology.

Digitsole shoe inserts are the next wave of wearable technology. Image: Facebook

FOOD

The trend: Sugar is bad

The truth: Sugar is deemed more dangerous than fat by the newest health studies. According to The American Heart Association, the recommended daily amount of sugar for an adult female is 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams, which equates to 100 calories. However, in 2008, average daily consumption for most Americans hovered around 76.7 grams or 19 teaspoons per day and continues to rise. Even those who considered themselves to maintain a “healthy” diet actually consumed well over the recommended amount, as sugar is hidden in so many supermarket foods like cereals, low-fat yogurts and energy bars. Sugar is not only dangerous to your waistline (it can causes inflammation, hormone disruption, weight gain, migraines, tooth decay and diabetes), but it’s highly addictive.

Luci: “The key is moderation. Consuming a small amount of sugar is certainly not going to kill you. What I try to stress to my clients is that sometimes cravings for sugar are actually triggered by other psychological or environmental factors like anxiety or tiredness. It’s important to be able to decipher when we actually want to enjoy something sweet and when we are just reaching for something sugary because it has an immediate comforting effect. I encourage clients to keep alternatives on hand to satisfy cravings while providing benefits, like a piece of fresh fruit. Maple syrup is a great sweetener, as its minimally processed, plant based and adds great flavor.”

The trend: Bone broth

The truth: Just when we thought the liquid diets fad had fizzled, bone broth was introduced as the new elixir. Made from animal bones boiled in water, it’s not much different than stocks you would use as the base of stews and soups. Supposedly, as the bone cooks for long periods of time, it’s beneficial fats, oils and proteins are broken down in the broth, providing an easily digestible meal supplement. Health professionals question how much of the broth’s nutrients are actually absorbed. While broth has been proven to reduce inflammation and ease digestion (there’s a reason your grandma makes you chicken soup to alleviate your sore throat), it should not be considered a meal replacement as it is virtually devoid of healthful calories and vitamins.

Luci: “I’ve always been a believer that the best detox is one that embodies whole foods and aims to eliminate processed foods. For those of my clients who are interested in juicing or brothing, I encourage them to make sure their calorie intake doesn’t fall too low, which causes irritability, fatigue and even headaches. Just like with exercise, your diet should be sustainable. Before you embark on a “detox,” ask yourself is this necessary and is this viable.”

Brothing is the one of the new food fads of 2016.

Brothing is the one of the new food fads of 2016. Image: NY Times

4 More Health Trends for 2016 …

The trend: Charcoal pills

The truth: Conventionally used to treat overdoses or poisoning, activated charcoal is a made from peat, wood or coconut shells and is used to pull toxic elements from the body. Once activated through chemical processes, the charcoal compound acquires small holes in its surface, which trap dangerous particles and carry them out of the body. Recognizing its potential as a great “detox” agent, some juice companies offer it as an additive to their mixtures. Some people take charcoal in a pill form after a meal to prevent gas and bloating. The irony however is that the charcoal can actually bind to beneficial nutrients and ultimately prevent their absorption into the body. Specialists question whether it’s a supplement that actually promises substantial benefits to your health. See more here.

The Trend: Teff

The truth: Move over, quinoa and goji berries! This year, teff is the hottest new superfood to take the shelves. Consumed in Ethiopia for thousands of years, teff is a tiny grain with big health benefits. Not only is it free of gluten, but it also has remarkably high levels of protein, calcium, fiber and iron. It’s recommended for those who are trying to stabilize their blood sugar levels and has very little fat or sodium. It can be used like a porridge, and it’s nutty texture and taste makes it an exceptional addition to salads, side dishes and even pancakes and baked goods!

Teff is the new superfood of 2016!

Have you tried teff? Image: Huffington Post

The trend: Oil pulling

The truth: Dating back over 3,000 years, oil pulling is an Ayurvedic tradition in which you swish an oil — preferably sesame, coconut or sunflower — around your mouth to remove “toxins.” Some practitioners of oil pulling claim it can reduce headaches, inflammation and even asthma (and there is substantiated evidence of oils’ anti-inflammatory effects). In general, most practitioners use oil pulling as a form of dental hygience, as the bacteria in your mouth naturally cling to the oils, thereby alleviating bad breath. While it’s a proven way to add luminosity to your smile, it shouldn’t replace your regular teeth cleaning practices like brushing and flossing.

Oil puling is an Ayurvedic tradition that is proven to clean your teeth.

Oil puling is an Ayurvedic tradition that is proven to clean your teeth. Image: Women’s Health Magazine

The trend: Asian beauty regimens

Asian women are known for their impeccable skin and luminous hair. So it’s no surprise that the newest skincare trends in the United States have been adopted from Korean and Japanese beauty traditions. Versions of both BB and CC creams, for instance, were born in Korea, and Asian countries continue to provide compelling arguments for the effectiveness of non-invasive facial treatments like gommage peels, essential oils and sparkling facial essences. The widely popular brand Peach + Lilly has capitalized on these traditions, offering everything from eye creams to sleeping masks using only natural ingredients. And according to the beauty specialists at Marie Claire, this trend is here to stay.

The Shangpree Gold mask from Peach + Lilly is a great exfoliant.

The Shangpree Gold Premium Modeling Mask from Peach + Lilly is just one of the many Korean beauty trends that is making waves in the skincare industry. Image: Facebook

Health and nutrition is a topic on everyone’s minds this time of year, so we hope this has inspired you to learn more about positive changes you can make and keep this year. Here’s to an even happier and healthier 2016!

A special thanks to Luci for sharing her expertise with us today. To learn more about Align Wellness Studio, visit their website