India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Sports & Fitness
April 14, 2015

Honey, I Drank the Butter!

Text by Simone Louis. Illustration by Kalyani Ganapathy

The era of experimentation is upon us; but that may not always be a good thing. Verve discovers and deciphers bizarre nutrition trends that are all the rage

A scroll through any of your social media feeds today will show you that there is no shortage of people embarking on a crusade to be fit and lean. Gastronomy, too, is getting more complex and adventurous by the minute, which seems to be resulting in some mind-boggling food fads. You know the phase that every child goes through in order to learn what is okay to put in his mouth and what isn’t? Forget everything you’ve learned.

When regular exercise and healthy nourishment aren’t enough, we see several fit-conscious folk turning to the newest and, very often, strangest developments in nutrition and dietetics. From cotton ball breakfasts and breatharianism to mould meals and vinegar diets, it looks like modern health-heads are open to trying just about anything.

OIL PULLING
Let’s start off with the most credible practice of the lot. Oil pulling is suddenly making headlines all over the world, especially after superstar Gwyneth Paltrow swore by it. But what most people may not know is that this is actually an ancient Indian Ayurvedic tradition which dates back over 3000 years!

It simply involves the act of swishing a tablespoon of pure, organic oil around your mouth while pulling it between your teeth, for up to 20 minutes (no less than five minutes) a day, and then spitting out the oil and saliva.

One can use sesame seed oil or olive oil, but pure coconut oil is the preferred ingredient here since it has the additional advantage of lauric acid, well-known for its anti-microbial agents.

Almost everyone who has tried it (and managed to stick with it) has experienced benefits like increased oral health and whiter teeth, improvement in hormone imbalances, relief from arthritis, liver problems, skin conditions and more. If you can handle the weird feeling that comes from oil in your mouth, start off with five to 10 minutes of swishing a day and proceed according to your comfort level. It can make your jaw hurt after a while, so don’t work too hard — gentle swishing and swirling is enough. Also remember not to spit out into your sink, or you’ll need to call your plumber.

BULLETPROOF COFFEE
This concoction, commonly known as butter coffee but recently branded under the name Bulletproof Coffee, is a curious amalgamation of coffee, butter and MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil. For those of us who have travelled to North-East India and Tibet, this may sound familiar. The recipe was inspired by the yak butter tea of Tibet which increases fat burning and improves cognitive function. The caffeine creation is brewed with organic black coffee, two heaped tablespoons of unsalted, grass-fed butter and a dash of MCT, blended to give you a creamy drink that apparently will have you brimming with energy. It is also said to help you shed pounds, shrink your waistline and promote brain function.

So far, experts are divided on whether this is unhealthy or effectual, and so are drinkers. A few of our acquaintances insist that butter coffee is creamy and delicious, but we’re still trying to wrap our heads around the whole greasy after-taste.

ACTIVATED CHARCOAL
Mostly used for emergencies in hospitals (to treat those who have been poisoned), activated charcoal is a superfine black powder that ensnares the toxins in the body and helps one to excrete them during bowel movements. Now, however, the substance has become popular in regular daily living, simply as a nutrition supplement, a detox and a wonder cure. It appears as an ingredient in contemporary cold-pressed juices, capsules, smoothies and toothpastes, among other products. The claims on what activated charcoal can help you accomplish are certainly plentiful (and slightly implausible) – lower blood cholesterol levels, clear skin, whiter teeth, complete detoxification, reduction of gas and bloating, remedy for jet lag, binding of toxins during pregnancy and so on.

It all sounds really magnificent, especially when this trend, like others, is supposedly backed by thousands of years of tradition – Chinese, Egyptian and Greek healers have used activated charcoal to soak up poisons and improve intestinal health. But with any radical new supplement, you do need to take into account the risks that come with ingesting it, like your stools turning black. Plus, none of the claims are authenticated by actual scientific studies, so maybe we’ll steer clear of this one for now!

These are just a few of the incalculable fads out there today. They won’t be the last, and they’re definitely not the first. Before cold-pressed juice cleanses and the cabbage soup diet, there existed cigarette diets and even a tapeworm diet! You may cringe at the thought, but if there’s anything we’ve learned from researching the history of bizarre nutrition trends, it is that desperate weightwatchers are suckers for desperate measures.

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