March is National Nutrition Month and March 8 is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day. The day, created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, was designed to increase awareness of registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs), their services, and commitment to helping others lead healthy lives.

To celebrate the day and highlight how nutrition plays a role in social media, I spoke to a couple RDNs and an internist.

Read: The Teenage Brain On Social Media: Facebook And Instagram 'Likes' Trigger Same Reward System As Eating Chocolate

If you’re active on any social media platform, especially the photo-sharing network Instagram, you’ve most likely noticed the abundance of health-related information, from workout tips, to healthy recipes, and beyond. With all the information that’s out there, it’s not always easy to distinguish between the healthy and unhealthy trends.

Detoxes and Cleanses

One of the prominent nutrition-related trends that celebrities and other social influencers get paid to promote are tea detoxes. “Flat Tummy Tea,” is one brand, among dozens of others, which claims to reduce your bloating, support your metabolism, boost energy level, cleanse your system, and improve digestion. It’s been promoted by celebrities like Khloe Kardashian, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, and many others. But, are these tea detoxes effective?

"Detoxes and cleanses are the most frustrating thing I experience now as a registered dietitan," Wesley Delbridge, RDN and National Media Spokesperson for Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Medical Daily.

“Everyone wants a quick fix,” Delbridge continued, “but that’s not associated with healthy weight loss.”

He cautions against these type of products and warns they can mess with your body’s metabolism, hormones, and insulin levels. Instead, he recommends sticking to natural coffee, tea, and water.

However, Lauren Minchen, RDN, believes while there can be risks, some teas may be beneficial. Before trying any, she recommends researching the brand and product.

“I recommend trying one or two cups before beginning a regular regimen,” Minchen told Medical Daily. “And no matter the tea or supposed benefits, I always remind my clients that their diet should make up the foundation of any healthy changes they make.”

Dietary Supplements

Another popular, paid sponsorship among social influencers is “SugarBearHair.” These blue gummy bears are touted as having effective ingredients that promote healthy, long hair by increasing hair strength, improving hair elasticity, and stopping breakage. The vitamins are not FDA-approved; however, this is not unusual. Dietary supplement manufacturers and distributors are not required to obtain approval from the FDA before marketing their products, as stated on their website.

Ditch the supplements, Delbridge said.

“You can get all the vitmains and minerals you need from a healthy diet,” he told Medical Daily. However, if you insist on taking them, he recommends to research the company, product, and how the product is processed.

Using Social Media For Nutrition Advice

One scroll through your Instagram feed and it often feels that all your followers are eating healthy all the time. We often need to be reminded that social media is not the real world and none of us put our worse selves online, Delbridge said.

However, not everyone always remembers that, and sometimes obsessive healthy eating habits translate into real life. This is called “orthorexia nervosa.” Although not currently a clinical diagnosis, many people struggle with the symptoms of having an unhealthy obsession with being healthy.

“Social media exacerbates eating disorders because of its emphasis on the idealism of thinness,” Dr. Philip Mehler, Chief Medical Officer of Eating Recovery Center, told Medical Daily. “Eating disorders are much less prevalent in countries where this is still not prominent.”

Use technology to your advantage to look for healthy recipes and ideas, Delbridge and Minchen both recommend.

“But whenever you’re looking to make over your diet, you should always see a professional to ensure more complete attention to your medical and nutritional needs and to avoid a disordered, perfectionist relationship with food,” Minchen said.

See also: National Nutrition Month Features Healthy School Lunches As The Basis For Future Wellness​

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