If you spend enough time on Instagram listening to the health, fitness and wellness influencers on there, you are going to be left with a pantry full of avocados (so good for you and in everything), a shopping cart full of hip hugging fitness wear and a longing to escape to a relaxing spa where they slather you with clay. A caveat though, it is not recommended that you do these together. Another caveat, a more important and less obvious one, perhaps not all health advice given by your favourite influencers is right or applicable to you. Take most of it with a generous pinch of salt.
We caught up with Dr Siddhant Bhargava, a doctor by profession and quite the personality on Instagram. He’s now launching his podcast Kya Lifestyle Hai on Audible and we caught up with this doctor who has fought lupus and cancer about the advice being given out on social media platforms.
For starters, we asked him how much of the advice that is bandied around on Instagram should actually be believed and put into action. He mentions that advice does need to reach a wider audience and therefore isn’t customised, but also, don’t believe everything you see on there.
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Siddhant says, “As a professional, to be noticed, what you need to be doing is making generic health tips, but making them in a way that they’re actually useful. Like, I can’t be just going out and saying, drink six glasses of water. The way I make my content is that it is massy, it is generic, but it’s always backed by the reasons behind it. And I think that’s what sets me apart. I’m just not giving out tips for the sake of it. I’m backing them up with a lot of scientific material. So that it’s very easy for a person to digest these tips no matter how generic they are.”
The trap then is avoiding tips that seem too gimmick-y and easy. And these come by fast and furious. He points out the accounts you shouldn’t be taking advice from. Siddhant says, “There are two parts to this answer. One, people should avoid listening to people who aren’t completely genuine with the audience, anybody who’s trying to sell you something is a person with an agenda. You want to avoid these people because they will always give you one side of the story in order to sell a product. The second kind of tips that you need to be avoiding are tips which do not have a scientific claim behind them. I will always give you the reason like why I’m telling you to do what I’m telling you to do. If I don’t give you a reason, you should not be listening to me because without a reason, I’m just a salesman. I’m not presenting facts anymore. So you need to be following the correct kind of people and just making sure that their facts are always backed.”
But you know what they say, even if you’ve presented no evidence, proved nothing, if you say it enough number of times, people might believe you. Siddhant warns against this. And he points out that ACV concoction you’ve been chugging in the morning to further your weight loss efforts is probably not doing you any good. Yes, put that mug down. “When we talk about health for the Indian market, a large part of health is getting back to a weight that you desire. Getting your weight under check is supremely important because if you’re an overweight person eating healthy food, it really doesn’t matter. You first need to be non overweight, and then start eating healthy foods. So falling into traps where Apple Cider Vinegar is going to help you lose weight or falling into traps like drinking two glasses of green tea is going to help you lose weight, these kinds of claims need to be refuted very strongly. And it’s something people need to be made aware about,” Siddhant urges us.
There’s plenty to talk about when it comes to weight, fitness and being healthy and the conversation can never be limited to information handed out over quick videos. But to start off and find the motivation and to take out all the math from the process of getting healthier, accounts like Siddhant’s are perfect. I see that you’re already on your way there.
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