() — TikTok can be great for so many things: finding new recipes, looking for style inspiration, or watching cat videos. But when it comes to wellness trends, following all the suggestions from TikTok users could put your health at risk.
Every year there are at least a few new wellness practices that content creators claim are “the easy way out” and they spread like wildfire. For example, last year some creators used sunscreen to get a sculpted face; they put garlic in their noses to clear their sinuses; and drank dry protein powder to enhance its effects. According to experts, these practices don’t always work and are potentially dangerous.
But why can such practices become popular without evidence of their effectiveness?
“It’s part of human nature to want the path of least resistance,” said Dr. Niket Sonpal, an adjunct assistant professor of clinical medicine in the department of basic biomedical sciences at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City. “There is pain and suffering, and they want relief.”
Some people may have difficulty seeing a doctor due to health illiteracy, disparities in health care or time constraints, he added, which can lead to dubious practice crowdsourcing.
“It is difficult because, on the one hand, there are practices that are harmful. But on the other hand, there are some that actually offer benefits to people’s health,” said Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, Medical Analyst, ER physician and professor of Politics and Management at the health at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Of the wellness practices that populated TikTok this year, here’s what we should leave behind in 2022 or what we could bring into the new year, according to experts.
The sexy girls routine
Mia Lind, a 23-year-old TikTok user, was in quarantine in January 2021 when she put her own spin on a fitness routine, eventually transforming her body and mind with what she called the “hot girl walk.” which can be translated into Spanish as the “sexy girl routine”
“Obviously, there are a lot of health benefits when you do these walks for a long time and you walk a little fast,” Lind said in a TikTok she posted that month.. “But what matters is what you do during the hot girl routine.”
“You can only think of three things in the hot girl routine: one, things you’re grateful for. Two, your goals and how you are going to achieve them, and three, how good you are.
The sexy girl routine rose in popularity in 2021 and continued to do so this year: As of December 21 of this year, its video has been viewed more than 3 million times and liked by nearly 800,000 people.
“In general, anything that promotes exercise and mental well-being will be good for people’s health,” Wen said.
Walking can have multiple benefits, Wen added, including for lowering blood pressure or the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke or type 2 diabetes. Walking can also improve your mood and be more accessible than other exercises.
Lind has suggested walking a few miles each day, but if that’s not immediately feasible for you, start small or spread the distance out over the day, said both Wen and Joey Thurman, a certified personal trainer and author of “The Minimum Method: The Least You Can Do to Be a Stronger, Healthier, Happier You.”
Frustration and burnout due to long hours and understaffed companies led some people to quit doing work beyond what they were hired for and are not paid, a trend known as “quiet quitting.”
The premise of quietly quitting (reducing stress) is a good one, but quietly quitting certain work tasks might not be sustainable over time. A better route is to set boundaries, assess what your priorities are, and communicate with your manager to make sure you’re both on the same page about what your responsibilities are.
The ‘indoor shower’ drink
Some TikTok users have touted a flat stomach and constipation relief as benefits of the “internal shower,” which involves adding 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to a glass of water with fresh lemon juice, steeping the drink for 10 to 15 minutes and then drink it as quickly as possible. Some drink this once, while others take on the challenge of doing it once a day for a few days up to a month.
But while some have said the trend is worth it, others have experienced new or worsening bloating or constipation. The ingredients of the drink may explain both results.
The key to a healthy bowel movement is fiber and water, Sonpal said. We need 25 to 35 grams of fiber a day, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but the average American only consumes 10 to 15 grams.
About 2 tablespoons of chia seeds provide about 10 grams of fiber, so they can help “relieve the symptoms of occasional mild constipation,” said Dr. Geoffrey A. Preidis, an assistant professor of pediatrics in the division of gastroenterology. , hepatology and nutrition at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.
But consuming too much fiber, especially without enough water, can lead to bloating, gas, abdominal pain or diarrhea, said Preidis and Beth Czerwony, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Human Nutrition.
“You don’t need something called (an) ‘internal shower,'” Sonpal said. “You just need a high fiber diet and lots of water every day.”
“Chlorophyll water is a trend on social media that encourages people to add chlorophyll drops to their water,” Czerwony said.
Followers of this practice, which has been a trend for the past year and a half, claim “various health benefits including cancer prevention, wound healing, weight loss, constipation control, and increased energy,” added Czerwony.
People who have praised chlorophyll water for benefiting their skin, weight-loss efforts, bowel regularity and energy levels were probably experiencing the effects of being more hydrated than before, experts said, as the water helps All of these things.
Research hasn’t shown that chlorophyll water is toxic or dangerous, but it also hasn’t shown any health benefits, Czerwony said.
People they’ve been searching for years ways to keep their mouths closed at night to avoid breathing through their mouths while they sleep. This year, some people found what seemed like a simple solution on TikTok: tape their mouths over their mouths. But some experts have said that while tape can keep your mouth closed and make nasal breathing easier, duct tape can have drawbacks.
“If you have obstructive sleep apnea, yes, this can be very dangerous,” sleep specialist Dr. Raj Dasgupta, an associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, told in October. Obstructive sleep apnea, the total or partial collapse of the airways, is one of the most common and dangerous sleep disorders.
The use of tape can also lead to painful loss of facial hair or damage to the soft tissue around the mouth.
“There is limited evidence on the benefits of bandaging, and I would be very careful, including talking to your health care provider, before trying it,” he added.
One TikTok challenge that might leave you horrified is the “sleepy chicken“, a recipe for cooking chicken with a mixture of the basic ingredients of Nyquil and other similar products… actually, we can’t tell you why people thought this was a good idea.
Still, the dish was popular enough to draw the attention of the FDA, which issued a warning in September.
“These video challenges, which are often targeted at young people, can harm people and even cause death,” the FDA said in a statement on its website. “Boiling a drug can make it much more concentrated and change its properties in other ways,” the FDA said. “Even if you don’t eat the chicken, inhaling the drug fumes while cooking could cause high levels of the drug to enter your body. It could also damage your lungs.”
The fact that viral TikTok hacks can be as innocent as walking for fitness and self-confidence or as dangerous as cooking chicken on NyQuil is a testament to the fact that social media trends are mixed.
If you have a healthcare provider, always check with them before trying anything, Wen said. “Another way is to check the trend on trusted websites for health information.”
‘s Jen Rose Smith contributed to this story.