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3 health trends to try this year (and 3 to skip)
Some recent health trends are worth getting behind. Find out which ones doctors think make sense.
Health trends are a lot like fashions. They come and go. Remember the cabbage soup diet? Or the season everyone wore toning shoes? Bet you haven’t tried those in a long time.
Lots of people look for new ways to get healthy. But don’t just hop on the latest bandwagon. It’s important to ask your doctor whether a health trend is right for you.
And keep in mind that some of the best health habits never go out of style, says Tara Ostrom, MD. She’s an internal medicine specialist with Optum Care in Phoenix. “You should focus on working out,” says Dr. Ostrom, “no matter what the trends are.”
3 health trends to try
For 2023, the word is “wellness.” That means keeping your body and your mind strong and healthy. Half of all Americans say that wellness is at the top of their list.1 Are you ready to make some healthy new habits? Here are a few worth considering.
Sleep plays a key role in staying healthy. If you’re not getting enough shut-eye, it can affect your health. You’re more likely to have trouble thinking clearly. Plus, you may gain weight and have a higher chance of heart problems.2
Why so many sleepless nights? For some, modern technology is to blame. It messes with our circadian rhythm.3 That’s a 24-hour cycle of sleeping and being awake that all people have. It’s triggered by nature. When the sun comes up in the morning, the clock inside your body tells you it’s time to wake up. When it gets dark at night, that internal clock makes you feel tired.2
But late-night television and smartphones can change that rhythm. They can keep you up when you should be snoozing. Sleep-syncing is a natural way that may help to fix that.4 It’s matching your daily habits to the rhythms of nature. To do it, try these tips:5
- Keep your bedroom dark, cool and quiet.
- Stick to the same bedtime, and wake up when it gets light.
- Stop eating at least three hours before bedtime.6 A late-night snack can slow down your digestion and keep you from sleeping.
- Go outside in the morning. Bonus: That boost of sunshine not only makes you feel better. It can help improve your circadian rhythm. And it can lead to better sleep at night.7
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Healing with sound
Do you like to listen to music? Do ocean waves make you feel calm? Then you may already know that sound can be good for you. A recent study found that it may help lower anxiety and bring on feelings of calm and peacefulness.8 Here are some examples of how sound may help relax you:
Sound baths. Here’s how they work. You’ll lie down and close your eyes. Then you’ll listen to soothing music, vibrations or nature sounds. A therapist may play instruments like bowls, gongs or bells. Then they’ll guide you through breathing exercises.
White noise. White noise is a sound that can help you relax, like a running stream or gentle rain. You can use a white noise machine or listen to an app on your smartphone. (Don’t forget to turn off your notifications first.) Research shows white noise may help you fall asleep faster9 and even help you work better.10
Music therapy. This may help you lower pain and stress.11 It can even improve memory. Of course, listening to music on your own can help you feel better. But for more serious concerns, like acute pain, you might want to work with someone trained to use music to help you relax.
Working with a music therapist, you might play a piano or other musical instrument. Or you might sing or listen to music that helps you relax.
Mushrooms as medicine
Mushrooms are one of nature’s superfoods. Whether you eat them whole or as supplements, they can help your health. Here are some benefits:
- They’re rich in B vitamins.12 B vitamins help your body turn food into energy. Some kinds of mushrooms also contain a healthy dose of vitamin D, which can help lower your odds of depression.13
- Research shows mushrooms keep thinking sharp in older adults.12
- Mushroom supplements or skincare products that contain mushrooms can be good for your skin. A 2019 study found that a fiber in them protects skin from air pollution.14 It’s a good idea to check with your doctor before taking any supplements.
3 trends to skip
Some health trends can do more harm than good, especially if they haven’t been carefully studied. Here are three trends to pass on:
Weight loss shots. You may have seen the TV ads. You can get a shot to help you lose weight. But it’s not for everybody. It’s meant for people with long-term problems that can be helped by weight loss.
Unless your doctor prescribes these meds for a long-term (chronic) condition, such as diabetes, stay away from them, says Dr. Ostrom. They’re a quick fix, but they may cause serious side effects that can last for a long time. Instead, she says, try to lose weight the old-fashioned way. Focus on eating well, sleeping well and moving more.
Diagnosing yourself with social media. Watching a TikTok video isn’t a good way to diagnose any illness, says Dr. Ostrom. But it’s a growing trend, especially for mental health conditions. Videos can help you learn about mental health concerns, or make you feel like you’re not alone. But using them to diagnose yourself can be dangerous. You could miss out on getting the treatment you need by working with a doctor or therapist.
If you have a symptom you’re worried about, turn to your doctor or other primary care professional first. Unlike a video on the internet, they’ll listen to you and ask questions such as, “When did it start? How long has it been going on? What makes it better? What is your family history?” Then they’ll help you with the next steps.
Overdoing melatonin. When it begins to get dark, your body prepares for sleep. It starts making a chemical called melatonin. That makes you feel sleepy, so you can get the rest you need.3 But what if you have trouble sleeping? Some people may consider taking melatonin to help wind down.
It’s a natural supplement. But just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s the best way to get to sleep. It can cause headaches, dizziness and next-day tiredness. And it may cause high blood pressure. So don’t take it if you have high blood pressure.
Too much melatonin can even be bad for your health. How much is too much? That’s hard to say. The CDC points out that since supplements aren’t regulated, the dose on the label might not be accurate. Plus, everyone reacts differently.15 Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking melatonin.
Better yet: Boost your melatonin naturally. Drink a glass of milk before bed. Your body uses a chemical in dairy products to make melatonin.16
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- McKinsey Reports. Still feeling good: The US wellness market continues to boom. Published September 19, 2022. Accessed February 26, 2023.
- Sleep Foundation. How sleep deprivation affects your heart. Last updated March 16, 2023. Accessed March 21, 2023.
- Sleep Foundation. Technology in the bedroom. Last updated December 22, 2022. Accessed March 21, 2023.
- Sleep Foundation. Circardian rhythm. Last updated March 22, 2023. Accessed March 29, 2023.
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Healthy sleep habits. Updated August 2020. Accessed March 21, 2023.
- Sleep Foundation. How often do we eat before bed, and how bad is it for us? Published February 24, 2023. Accessed March 14, 2023.
- PLoS One. The relations between sleep, time of physical activity, and time outdoors among adult women. Published September 6, 2017. Accessed February 26, 2023.
- PLoS One. The effects of music and auditory beat stimulation on anxiety: A randomized clinical trial. Published March 9, 2022. Accessed March 14, 2023.
- Sleep Foundation. White noise. Last updated March 2, 2023. Accessed March 29. 2023. .
- Journal of Health and Safety at Work. Different colors of noise and their application in psychoacoustics: A review study. Published September 10, 2022. Accessed February 21, 2023.
- National Institute of Health. Music and health: What you need to know. Last updated September 2022. Accessed March 29, 2023.
- Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Mushrooms. Accessed March 14, 2023.
- Journal of Affective Disorders. Mushroom intake and depression: A population-based study using data from the US national health and nutrition examination survey. Published November 2021. Accessed March 14, 2023.
- Molecules. Beta glucan: Supplement or drug? From laboratory to clinical trials. Published April 2019. Accessed February 24, 2023.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sleep aids and stimulants. Published March 31, 2020. Accessed March 14, 2023.
- International Journal of Environment Research and Public Health. The effects of milk and dairy products on sleep: A systematic review. Published December 16, 2020. Accessed February 26, 2023.
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