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The 2023 wellness trends that aren’t good for your health

From chlorophyll-drinking to bed rotting, a roundup of the cringe-worthy wellness trends of 2023

In bed rotting, all daily activities from eating and sleeping to texting are conducted from the bed to reverse the effects of burning out (iStockphoto)

By Jen Thomas

LAST PUBLISHED 31.12.2023  |  08:00 AM IST

Another year around the sun has given humans more time to concoct more theories on how to lose weight, eat better, and get fit. Living a healthy life is vital; our nutrition and fitness levels are essential to that equation. In addition, drinking water, sleeping well, and minimising our stress are the other bedrocks to our human performance. And yet, we search for more—that magical something that will help us achieve our goals or perform at our highest levels. However, our success typically has little to do with what magical supplement or pill we aren’t taking; it has everything to do with what actions we are already taking. It’s that magical thinking; deep down, if we find that one-pill solution, it will negate the negative aspects of our lifestyle that we don’t want to change. 

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I am often asked about viral trends or magical one-pill solutions with fantastic marketing campaigns, whether or not they live up to the hype. To say that there are a lot of nutrition and fitness trends that make me cringe, or throw up my hands in confusion is a drastic understatement, so I have chosen my top 3 from 2023.

Admittedly, my sources of information regarding nutrition and fitness are drastically different than the average person—I am typically knee-deep in scientific studies, researching the latest up-to-date findings. I am not spending endless hours scrolling on Instagram, where most people are influenced as quickly as the wind blows. And so, I went there to find the most cringe-worthy trends for 2023: bed rotting, lemon coffee, and drinking chlorophyll.

BED ROTTING
Immediately, this one sounds off-putting; it conjures up images of dirty sheets, stinky pyjamas, and coffee stains on pillowcases. However, this is a new trend that burnt-out millennials are using to offset their hectic, busy schedules by staying in bed all day to the point that they (hopefully tongue-in-cheek) rot in it. I am all for a “duvet day", as the older generation likes to call it, but it’s not something I can employ very often, which is probably why it sounds so amazing to do.

But for those who use this “bed rotting", it takes on a little uncomfortable turn, where all their daily activities are conducted in the bed, from eating and sleeping to texting, you name it, all in the name of reversing the effects of their burning out. 

Everything good in life, including rest, must come with moderation and some sense and sensibility. My generation is also at fault for overworking and under- sleeping; however, we tend to spin the table in the opposite direction too fast, thinking it’s the antipode to the problem. Bed rotting, to me, is like the emotional eating of rest—a little feels nice, but too much is a slippery slope. 

The problem with using the bed as a platform for all your daily activities is that psychologically, your bed becomes associated with things that don’t actively promote sleep and rest—a case in point is the blue light being emitted from television and phone screens, which can inhibit your natural sleep patterns. When working with my clients on improving their sleep hygiene, we first train their brains to understand a healthy association of sleep and the time to sleep, and that starts with associating our beds with being a sleep space.

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The downside of making your bed your living space is that there are a lot of mental health issues that can snowball within the duvet. Habitual bed rotting can be a sign of depression, which is extremely important to be aware of. 

If you feel up to the challenge, you can replace this with another trend: sleeping according to your circadian rhythm (called sleep syncing.) It’s about utilising the natural light to dictate your sleep and wake patterns. If you’d like to try this, turn off the lights in your house around 5pm and see how your body reacts to the lowered light levels as the night goes on. You may find yourself interested in hitting the sack at a much more reasonable time, and getting more sleep to fuel yourself for a busy day ahead.

LEMON COFFEE
Like any good year on social media, there is always a food substance touted as a weight loss hack. Lemon coffee is the most recent trend that promises many benefits, including improved ability to lose weight. It uses a few drops of lemon in your coffee. Coffee, you may or may not know, has some health benefits, and it’s one of the few good pre-workout drinks, as one cup can stimulate your performance in the gym. Lemon is packed with vitamin C, and some people have even said that the combination of lemon and coffee helps reduce appetite signals in the body, lowering overall food intake. Still, the overall enhancement is negligible compared to a few cookies or chips you could eliminate but don’t. 

The question will always be—does the inclusion of this substance make a demonstrable difference, and would it just be easier to cut a few things out of my diet that I don’t need to have? Also, coffee is a stimulant that doesn’t agree with all people, wreaking havoc on nervous systems and can impair someone’s natural sleep cycles. Lemon and coffee are naturally very acidic so that this combination can feel very corrosive for those dealing with heartburn, indigestion or tooth enamel issues. The best we can say for now is that the scientific research isn’t there to support any claims that this combination is touting.

DRINKING CHLOROPHYLL
This one had me doing a double-take as I read it. We no longer think twice about taking green supplements such as spirulina, but drinking chlorophyll in water isn’t really ideal or necessary. Chlorophyll is a substance that gives plant colour, but you likely won’t see that name on your supplements; more likely, it will be chlorophyllin. According to MD Anderson Cancer Clinic, US, chlorophyllin is more readily absorbed into the water with the help of sodium and copper. However, when looking into the claims (and there are many), it’s clear there isn’t scientific research to back them all up. One thing is clear: the evidence of benefits is more significant for eating the plant that contains chlorophyll. By increasing your green vegetables (broccoli, okra, spinach, kale, capsicum, etc.), you increase your ingestion of chlorophyll. It’s so simple, it’s genius. 

For anyone who wants to know what makes me so willing to cut through the chaff and expose nuggets of truth hidden under layers of marketing ploys and unsubstantiated yet viral claims, it’s because some things don’t matter enough in this world, and some things do. The things that matter will always matter, and the things that don’t will disappear in the trends next year, so don’t get caught up in the hype.

Jen Thomas is a master women’s health coach.

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