Social media has completely revolutionized the way the world operates. Every single day, billions of people scroll to check in on their friends, read their local news, track what’s happening with their favorite sports team and get advice.
“The most common trends on social media in regard to health and wellness include ‘quick and easy methods to lose weight,’” Rebecca Niekamp, a clinical dietitian at Mercy Health – St. Rita’s Medical Center, shares. “Now, another topic that’s popular are recommendations for ‘boosting immunity.’”
It is very important to note that many of the health and wellness gurus you see on social media have no medical experience. This is one of the many factors that makes it imperative to speak with your primary care provider before making any decisions regarding your health.
Having open and honest conversations with your provider can help you explain how you want to feel or how you want to look. In turn, your provider can talk you through the best ways to do so and advise you of the potential negative consequences of what you are attempting to do.
“When making decisions about your own personal health, it is crucial to spend time doing research,” Rebecca says. “This includes thorough research on your own and speaking with a health care professional, such as your primary care provider. They can discuss with you if a new food trend or herbal supplementation is safe and a benefit for your body. Your primary care provider knows your medical history and medications, which is a benefit when making a decision regarding your personal health.”
Comparing yourself to the people you see on social media is not often a fair comparison. The diet and exercise that works for one person may not get the same results for you. Every person’s body is different and reacts differently to wellness regimens. Additionally, social media influencers also tend to use filters and editing software in many cases, meaning their online portrayal isn’t necessarily authentic.
“The danger is you don’t know if the information is from a credible source or if any evidenced-based research studies have been done to back up these recommendations,” Rebecca adds. “Trying one of these new trends without reliable information may cause more harm than benefit for some individuals.”
And remember, it is just as easy to access your provider as it is to log onto your favorite social media site. Consider scheduling a virtual visit, which allows you to have a discussion with a trained and certified medical professional on how to achieve the results you are looking for without negative health consequences.
“When working on making changes to become healthier as an individual, there are many components that one may want to focus on,” Rebecca says. “Certainly, nutrition and exercise habits are a big component. Strong research is already established on the benefits of regular intake of fruits and vegetables, especially in place of other snacks such as crackers, chips and sweets. Routine daily exercise can improve your mental health and increase your overall energy level. However, with changes to either of these areas, it is still best to speak with your primary care provider to make sure it is safe for you to get started.”
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