The diets, which the BDA describe as 'laughable' but also extremely 'dangerous', are outlined below.
The blood type diet
This diet claims that foods are tolerated and broken down differently in the body depending on a person’s blood type.
Dietitian and BDA spokesperson Sian Porter says this diet is "restrictive, expensive and socially isolating".
She says: “Cutting out food groups is never a good idea (unless advised to do so by a doctor or dietitian) and careful substitutions need to be made to keep your diet in balance. For example, cutting out dairy can reduce calcium intake so other sources of calcium need to be increased or included. Any diet plan that includes special supplements should set off alarm bells.”
Drinking your own urine
This form of hydration is promoted by some as a 'cleansing, immune-boosting, energy giving, nutrient rich drink'.
Dietitian and BDA spokesperson Aisling Pigott says: “There is no evidence or advice which would encourage anybody to drink their own urine. The body, in particular the kidneys, does an effective job at removing toxins and excretes urine as a waste product. Therefore, drinking this again is not beneficial, could potentially be harmful and put you at risk of infection.”
Detox teas and skinny coffee
You’ve probably already seen them promoted all over social media by a slim, attractive celebrity or wellness blogger who claims that if you drink this you will lose weight and look like them. They are drinks, usually teas or coffees, marketed at helping you to lose weight or ‘detox’ your body.
Dietitian and BDA spokesperson Chloe Hall says: “the best-case scenario is that you are going to spend a lot of money on a product that is going to have no effect. Most of these drinks contain herbs that have very little evidence of promoting weight loss.
"The worst-case scenario is that you’re going to end up spending a lot of time in the bathroom. Some of these teas contain Senna, which is a laxative. This can leave you with stomach cramps and diarrhoea. Long-term laxative abuse is dangerous and can leave you with ongoing gut issues.”
The BDA has warned against a weight loss pack called “Slim Me”, which costs £100 a month.
This box contains a glucomannan powder, a bulk forming fibre, which is taken prior to a meal to “supress hunger”. There are also “detox” capsules and “digestive support” capsules. The packaging claims, “these biointense formulations provide your complete daily dose of nutrition”, at 12 calories per drink.
The BDA points out that each fibre drink provides less fibre than you could get by having a slice of wholegrain bread. And, glucomannan is a bulk-forming laxative, which means that if you don’t need the laxative effect, you may get diarrhoea, bloating and flatulence as side effects! They are also potentially dangerous to those with diabetes, which is worrying considering part of the sell here is about 'balancing blood sugar'.
Dietitian and BDA spokesperson Jennifer Low adds: "Whilst companies like these may have great marketing stats on how much people have lost whilst taking the product – have a think about what might happen once you no longer want to spend £100 a month on these – unless you change your lifestyle for good the weight will go straight back on.”
Alkaline water has a higher pH level than regular drinking water as it contains alkalising compounds including calcium, silica, potassium, magnesium, and bicarbonate. Because of this, some people believe that alkaline water helps our bodies metabolise nutrients and expel toxins more efficiently than regular tap water, leading to better health and performance.
Normal drinking water generally has a neutral pH of 7. Alkaline water typically claims to have a pH of 8 or 9.
Dietitian and BDA spokesperson Kaitlin Colucci says “whilst encouraging people to drink more water is a good thing, the pH of water will not have an impact on the pH of your blood – and you wouldn’t want it to. Your body is perfectly capable of keeping its blood within a very specific pH range (pH 7.35 to 7.45). If it failed to do so, you would become ill very quickly. Most people also have a perfectly healthy liver and kidneys to eliminate any toxins from your body themselves.”
The BDA adds that when some alkaline waters have been tested with pH strips the pH is in-fact 7.0.
Who can we trust?
Registered dietitian Harriet Smith says it is concerning that despite consumers actively interested in and researching how to get healthy, they are being met with dangerous advice promoted by trusted celebs.
She suggests manufacturers and marketers in the field of health food and drink consult with health professionals to ensure their marketing techniques are above board.
"Manufacturers and marketers should consult with a registered dietitian or nutritionist to ensure that your product marketing and food labelling is scientifically sound. You will gain respect from your consumers and the health profession if you show that you are genuinely interested and invested in improving the public’s health, rather than conning people into fad diets and monetising our body insecurities."
Suspicious celery juice
Smith adds that one very concerning diet fad which the BDA did not include in its list, is the celery juice diet, which she says is frequently targeted at people with chronic illnesses.
She adds: "Celery juice is claimed by some to have profound healing effects which are beneficial to those battling chronic illnesses.
“People claim that the celery juice diets has cured them of fibromyalgia, eczema, chronic fatigue syndrome and even cancer.
"I am really concerned by this latest fad. The saddest thing is, the celery juice movement is strategically targeting chronic illness patients on social media. Celery juice advocates have been commenting on their Instagram posts telling them that celery juice will cure them of their conditions.
"These conditions range from chronic fatigue syndrome to psoriasis to even cancer. What concerns me most is that some people with a chronic illness are vulnerable to this sort of information as they are (quite understandably) desperate for a cure.
“What makes matters worse is that there are some big names supporting the celery juice movement.
“I'm all for people with chronic illnesses trying to eat better, however to target these patients who are desperate for a cure is inherently wrong."