As health-conscious consumers, we feel we know what’s good for us. Common sense says that if a certain food is considered healthy, we should eat lots and lots of it. But in reality, is it ever a good idea to eat or drink excessive amounts of anything?
As is often the case, too much of anything is hardly ever good. This is especially true when it comes to unhealthy foods. But eating exclusively “good foods” and ditching everything else is also not a healthy nor sustainable activity. Are you eating fresh fruits? What about those super-healthy protein shakes? That’s great! But how much are you consuming? Believe it or not, even drinking just plain water can be bad for you if done excessively. Let’s look at why too much of one thing is never the key to an active and healthy lifestyle.
No question, fresh fruits and vegetables are some of the healthiest foods you can eat. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre, which makes them great foods for weight loss and to keep digestive problems a bay. But when you get too much fibre (say if you were to only eat green leafy vegetables or salads), things may take a turn for the worse.
At first, consuming too much fibre may only cause bloating, cramps, and perhaps a bad case of gas. But if done excessively and without other foods in your diet, the fibre interferes with the absorption of minerals like iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, leading to serious deficiencies and health issues.
While we’re talking about veggies, there’s a condition called carotenemia that is brought on by an excessive consumption of beta-carotene. This is contained in carrots and carrot juice, but also in spinach, sweet potatoes, and squash. No, eating loads of carrots will not make your eyesight better… The beta-carotene in carrots is converted to vitamin A in your body. The issue here is that the body can only convert so much. The rest stays in your system, resulting in your hands or feet taking on a yellow-orange colour. On the plus side, yes, yellow hands may look strange, but carotenemia is fortunately harmless.
Papaya, oranges, and kiwi are known for containing loads of vitamin C. And everyone knows how good vitamin C is for your health, right? But should you decide to go on a diet that mainly consists of oranges or papaya, health troubles will be right around the corner. High levels of vitamin C consumed daily can lead to headaches, bladder irritation, and kidney stones.
The same goes for many other fruits. When eaten in abundance, the effects on the body are far from what you’d hope. Tomatoes and oranges are known for being very acidic, causing gastric and stomach problems from their high acid content. If you eat apples all day long, this isn’t great either; the mix of high fibre content and sorbitol may cause bloating, diarrhoea, and gas.
Tip: If you eat lots of fruits and veggies (which you should!) and love them (why wouldn’t you?!), make sure that you vary them daily.
Protein-rich foods (including protein powders and shakes) are indeed good and healthy. Check. But did you know that if your protein intake goes beyond 30% of your daily calorie intake, it will lead to a buildup of toxic ketones in your body? Your kidneys will be working around the clock to flush these harmful substances out. This can result in dehydration and calcium deficiency, leading to bone loss, general weakness, hair loss, nausea, and other health issues. Ultimately, the constant strain on your liver may even lead to heart problems.
The other issue with foods that are high in protein is that the body produces uric acid when it is converting the protein into fat. Too much of this will lead to inflamed joints, gallstones, and kidney problems.
When you take protein shakes and bars, be careful. Know that your body can only process about 5g of protein per hour. A shake or bar that gives you 50g of protein will take about 10 hours until it is absorbed. Keep this in mind and don’t go overboard with your supplements to avoid these problems.
Even drinking excessive amounts of water is bad for you. Too much water increases blood volume, which places a burden on your heart and blood vessels. There is even a condition called “water intoxication”, which will cause headaches, nausea, and fatigue. In some rare cases, this condition can even be fatal. Luckily, the average person is not at risk of being poisoned by too much water, but it can be a real problem for runners, professional athletes, and those on diets involving drinking excessive amounts.
Know that drinking 8-10 glasses every day is good and healthy. However, make sure that you spread out your consumption throughout the day.
Eating huge amounts of even the healthiest of foods is hardly ever beneficial. When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, moderation and variation are paramount.