What do common health buzzwords even mean?

Sadly, most of these buzzwords are utterly meaningless

In my earlier post on 5 red flags to watch for in health information, I mentioned that the use of certain common health buzzwords should be setting off your misinformation Spidey-sense. But what do they even mean?

After realizing it should be its own post, I thought it would be good to expand on the topic a little bit more. So, here is more information relating to some of the meaningless terms that are thrown around far too often:

Superfood

You’ll be told that if you eat an industrial amount of whatever latest “superfood” that you will be much healthier. The problem is that there is no such thing as a “superfood”. You are better off eating a healthy balanced diet…not eating enough goji berries to feed the Romanian army.

Detox

Do you need a detox? Not if your liver and kidneys are working. This is one of the most commonly used buzzwords; yet they can never really explain HOW these things “detox” your body. Your kidneys and liver don’t need help; let them do their job.

Clinically-proven

Clinically proven is probably the most legitimate sounding buzzword in this list. However, it doesn’t really mean anything on its own. Was it a clinical study in humans? What did they measure? This is important because sometimes animal studies with non important results are misinterpreted to apply to humans.

Unless you read the study itself, there is potential that someone has misinterpreted or is misrepresenting the results.

Chemical-free

This is probably the most annoying buzzword for me. Everything is a chemical. EVERYTHING. Unless your “chemical-free sunscreen” is a pure vacuum in a spray-can (interstellar space isn’t even a pure vacuum), then it isn’t “chemical-free”. This is usually said just to appeal to the “all-natural” crowd….Speaking of them:

All-natural

People always assume that an all natural vitamin C supplement is better than regular vitamin C supplements. But your body doesn’t care where the vitamin C came from; because ascorbic acid is ascorbic acid. There isn’t a microscopic tag on the molecule saying it’s “organic” or “all-natural”.

Also, assuming being natural is important, it doesn’t even mean it’s safe. Do you know what’s natural? Cobra venom . Would you go and take cobra venom supplements? Didn’t think so.

Cleanse

Your body does not require a “cleanse”. Most of these are just expensive laxatives or diuretics, which means they will make you poop or pee a lot. At best they are probably not going to help, at worst they could potentially be dangerous (e. g. could cause dehydration or electrolyte issues).

In my opinion the only thing this will achieve is to cleanse money from your wallet.


Conclusion

This post should shed some light on commonly used buzzwords that don’t really mean much of anything. Don’t fall for these marketing tricks!

Are there other buzzwords that you’ve seen? Share in the comments below.

Dan Landry

Daniel (Dan) Landry, founder of Rxplanation.com, is an infectious diseases pharmacist at the Dr-Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton, NB, Canada.

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