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Which wellness trends are worth trying?

Physicians weigh in on four popular health + wellness trends.

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Cold-pressed juice (like this one from Columbia’s Good Life Cafe) improves your gut health.

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Search for “health trends,” and the abundance of wellness products and practices circulating online can be overwhelming.

To take the guesswork out of which are actually worth trying, we’re digging into four popular wellness trends. Which ones do physicians recommend, and how can locals try them?

Gut health

The trend:

The use of gut health supplements, like probiotics, has been a trending topic in recent years. This trend focuses on healing the gut microbiome (read: the bacterial environment of your gastrointestinal tract) to improve one’s digestion and overall quality of life.

The verdict:

Prisma Health gastroenterologist Andre Eaddy, MD shares how a healthier gut microbiome can help improve one’s health.

Many factors can negatively impact your microbiome, from an unhealthy diet to certain prescription medications. Probiotics, antioxidants, and a healthy + balanced diet are a few ways you can improve your gut health.

From kombucha to smoothie bowls, check out this list of local eateries and shops that offer immune-boosting products.

Intermittent fasting

The trend:

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. The most popular pattern is 16:8 — an 8-hour eating window during the day and a 16-hour fasting window overnight.

The trend is said to boost the metabolism, reduce the risk of diabetes, and help with fat loss.

The verdict:

In short, intermittent fasting is a fad. Registered dietitian Jessica Justice Reath recommends listening to your body and giving it the fuel it needs.

Looking to add more fresh, local ingredients to your diet? Here’s our guide to Columbia-area farmers markets.

Mental health days

The trend:

The COVID-19 pandemic played a big role in bringing mental health to the forefront of conversations in homes and at the workplace.

One result? More attention on mental health days. (Think: Taking a sick day from work or school, but for one’s mental wellness instead of physical wellness). A mental health day is said to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and help you re-energize.

The verdict:

Taking action to manage stress + anxiety is one of the best ways you can care for your mental health, prevent burnout, and improve your overall well-being. And that can start with a mental health day.

Brain-boosting supplements

The trend:

Supplements for brain health + cognitive function have popped up in vitamin shops and natural grocers in recent years. They claim to help with anything from focus and memory to mood regulation, alertness, and more.

But, is there really power in the pill?

The verdict:

Physicians say there’s no real evidence that “brain-boosting supplements” improve memory or brain health. Some simple + effective ways to naturally improve memory include regular exercise, sleep, and mental stimulation.

Pro tip: Some studies show that a Mediterranean diet — which is naturally rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and essential nutrients — can actually improve cognitive function.

And remember, always do your research or ask your primary care doctor before trying anything that could impact your health or well-being.

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