The ‘clean eating’ trend has been doing the rounds for quite a while now, with followers of the movement committed to the idea that a natural, unprocessed diet is the way to maintain a healthy and ‘lean’ lifestyle.
The movement gained momentum most notably on social media platforms such as Instagram, with ‘influencers’ such as Ella Woodward (Deliciously Ella) and the Hemsley sisters, Melissa and Jasmin, maintaining that the best way to shape up was to follow the strict and regimented eating plan.
Many of the recommended diets include cutting out things such as gluten, meat and dairy – with most strongly advocating a plant-based diet, or veganism.
But recent research has suggested that the seemingly ultra-healthy diet may not may all that good for us at all – and could even be seriously harming our bone health.
The National Osteoporosis Society has warned that following a ‘clean’ diet and cutting out certain food groups, particularly dairy, could leave people at huge risk of decreased bone health. The society has carried out a study on 18-24 year olds who have followed such a diet, and found that cutting out food groups like dairy could easily jeopardise their health in the long-term, particularly the strength of their bones.
The charity also surveyed 2000 adults between 18 and 35, but found that the younger generation in their early 20’s were more likely to have tried out a diet of clean eating, and were therefore the most likely to be risking their bone health.
In total more than 20% of that age group had cut or severely restricted intake of dairy – mostly milk or cheese.
(The Hemsley sisters)
Experts said that the new trend was putting the generation at significant risk of developing osteoporosis – a condition that causes bones to become fragile and break easily in later life.
The research suggests that perhaps a clean eating diet could be even worse for an older generation, of whom half will suffer with osteoporosis in some way after the age of 50. Dairy is essential for strong bone growth, so it makes sense – especially for older people – not to follow a clean eating diet, should it ask you to restrict your intake of the mineral.
The research has been undertaken as part of a campaign called ‘A Message To My Younger Self’. Liz Earle, wellbeing and beauty expert, is fronting the campaign, and discussed the growing pressure on women to look a certain way.
The expert explained the concern she has for her own daughters, saying, “When I was growing up, my meals weren’t photographed and shared on social media. The pressure young women are under to match what their idols on Instagram are eating is really high.
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“Social media has caused a lot of confusion over what is “healthy” and children and young adults need to get their understanding of nutrition from real life experiences, not a fashionable food-fad image on a screen.”
Interestingly, many celebrities and social media influencers have made an attempt to distance themselves from the idea of clean eating recently. Famously, the Hemsley sisters, who have become something of the face of the trend, have reinforced that their diet plan is more about staying away from additives and processed junk – rather than ‘clean eating’.