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Are These Healthy Foods Harming You?

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Think you’re doing well to add these healthy foods to your diet? Watch out, too much of a good thing might just be a bad thing. Read about how some healthy foods may be harming you below.

We tend to think as a collective society that if something is good for you, that more must be better. That is why there are some people who try to exercise for four hours a day or try to drink three gallons of water every day.

Of course, health does not work like that. The key is to find the perfect balance of healthy foods and habits that promote a strong, healthy body and provide you with a solid foundation for preventing common health issues.

The following foods are all healthy and extremely beneficial in the right amounts. However, if you eat too much of them, unwanted side effects can occur, just like with other foods like grain or sugar.

Take a look at this list, and if you are eating too much, consider cutting back on some of these healthy foods:

Omega 3 Fats

Omega 3 fats are found in fish products, algae, and in some vegetarian products like walnuts and flaxseed. Most Americans are deficient in omega-3 fats, which are essential for brain health, inflammation regulation, and reducing the risk of heart disease. This is because most Americans eat more poultry and beef and eat far less fish in combination with omega-6 fats, which are found in vegetables (particularly vegetable oils).

To balance fat intake, many health professionals recommend eating more fish or taking a daily fish oil supplement. The recommended dose is somewhere between one and six grams per day, but some people may be taking much more than that.

In 2001, researchers found that a diet high in omega 3 fats (somewhere close to a consumption of 13 grams a day) thinned the blood to unsafe levels.

A study from 1990 published in the journal Chest, found that individuals who consume high doses of fish oil are more likely to have toxic levels of vitamin A in the blood, which can have serious side effects and is particularly of concern for pregnant women. Vitamin A toxicity is known to cause birth defects and other pregnancy complications.

However, you don’t have to be too scared about consuming too many omega 3 fats, because 13 grams is equal to about 30 capsules.

Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts are those large nuts inside nut cocktails that most people avoid, but they are also one of the best dietary sources of selenium. According to health experts, most people should aim for a selenium intake of no more than 70 micrograms per day.

At high levels, selenium can have toxic effects such as brittle nails, memory problems, and digestive problems. At the highest doses, selenium can even be fatal and kill someone in a day or less. A study from European researchers found that at most, humans can safely accept about 300 micrograms of selenium per day.

One brazil nut can contain up to 95 micrograms of selenium, meaning that you fulfill your selenium requirements by eating just one nut. After eating five nuts, you approach the range of toxicity. This indicates that you should be careful in your consumption of the nut.

Five Brazil nuts is a lot, since the nuts are so large, and you probably have never wanted to eat many more than that, but these studies indicate that to avoid selenium overdosing, it is best to choose a different nut for binge eating.

Tuna

Tuna is awesome because it is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to get omega 3 fats, particularly if canned tuna is purchased. Tuna is also high in protein, B vitamins, and minerals.

Sadly, we have polluted the oceans with mercury (specifically mercury known as methylmercury) which is terribly unhealthy. MM can cause a wide range of problems in children and adults (symptoms are typically worse in children) such as vision problems, impaired speech, impaired hearing, developmental delays, or a lack of coordination.

The biggest tunas typically contain the most mercury, which means you are not safe from MM poisoning even if you are choosing high-quality tuna steaks or sushi.

A study from 2010 published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry found that different kinds of tuna have varying levels of MM. While large tuna sold for steaks and sushi had the highest levels, white tuna from albacore tuna contained up to five times more mercury than light tuna. Light tuna is darker in color and comes from the non-albacore tuna.

According to the 2010 study, the upper safety limit of MM is 0.1 micrograms per kilogram of body weight, meaning that most people approach unsafe levels of mercury exposure if they eat tuna regularly. Ideally, you should eat tuna no more than twice a week. You can, however, safely eat other fatty fish like salmon and sardines more often.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are undeniably healthy. Cruciferous vegetables, such as brussel sprouts, kale, collard greens, cabbage, and broccoli contain some of the most nutrients of any plant and provide vital nutrients that are difficult to get elsewhere, such as vitamin K1. Because these vegetables are so healthy, they have been idolized by health-conscious individuals, who have transformed them and fit them into almost every food, including breakfast smoothies, desserts, juice, and chips.

However, there may be some risk to eating so much of these leafy greens. According to some studies, leafy greens contain compounds known as thiocyanates, which make it harder to absorb iodine.

A 2003 study published in BioFactors found that eating too many thiocyanates can actually suppress the absorption of iodine so much that it triggers hypothyroidism, which can slow the metabolism and cause other symptoms like weight gain, dry skin, and lack of energy.

If you do have thyroid problems already, or have been drinking a lot of “green smoothie” type beverages and juices, you may want to cut back on the intake a bit if you start to notice symptoms of a sluggish thyroid. You may also be able to supplement with iodine to even your levels.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is not only tasty, but it may also have a few health benefits. Cinnamon is high in antioxidants and can lower blood sugar and fight inflammation at the same time. While sprinkling cinnamon onto breakfast foods and desserts is unlikely to cause health problems, if you supplement with cinnamon it could be an issue.

Cinnamon contains a compound called coumarin, which has negative effects on the body. Cassia cinnamon has higher levels, which is unfortunate because it is the most common type used today. Ceylon cinnamon has much lower levels of coumarin, so if you do want to supplement with cinnamon Ceylon is the best type of cinnamon to consume. At high levels, coumarin is linked with a higher risk for liver toxicity and even cancer.

Coffee

Coffee is beloved by millions, who get very angry if you suggest that coffee is not healthy. While studies have indicated that coffee has many beneficial effects, including a high concentration of antioxidants, at high levels, coffee, too, may be harmful to your health. The average cup of coffee contains about 120 mg of caffeine.

Researchers suggest that doses of coffee up to 400 mg per day are safe and healthy. This means you can drink about 4 cups of coffee a day and still be within healthy limits. But when you start to consume 500 or 600 mg of caffeine a day, the trouble starts.

Too much caffeine can cause irritability, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, nervousness, stomach irritation, and insomnia. Most of these side effects are temporary and are unlikely to cause permanent health risks, but they are certainly not pleasant.

To avoid these side effects, stick to 3-4 cups of coffee or less per day.

Water

Water is incredibly good for you. We all know that. However, some health enthusiasts mistakenly got the idea that if they drink excessive amounts of water, they will be even healthier. This concept is idiomatically themed “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

Drinking too much water has led to a large population of America suffering from over-hydration or water intoxication. Water intoxication is when you flood your body with too much water, which can have a serious health risk.

At its worst, water intoxication can cause death. According to Web MD, your kidneys can process about half a liter of water per hour. This is equal to about two cups of water. Accounting for eight sleeping hours in a day, according to your body’s general capacity, you should not drink more than 32 cups of water in a day, which is equal to about two gallons.

But just because you can process that much liquid does not mean you should be drinking that much.

Symptoms of Water Intoxication
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Clear urine
  • Confusion
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle cramps

Most health experts suggest that your daily water intake from all sources (food included) should not exceed ¾ of a gallon. Health professionals suggest drinking when you are thirsty and not worrying about reaching a daily water intake goal. Some days you may need more water, while other days you may need less depending on your activity level and how much liquid you get from foods.

Can You Eat Too Much of a Good Thing?

These health studies show that even healthy foods can be bad for you at the wrong dosage level. By trying to consume more than the recommended amounts, you are not giving yourself more healthy, but rather compromising your overall health. Foods have a recommended intake level that is based on the effects they have on the body. Usually, overdosing on healthy foods will lead to similar problems as overdosing on anything else and will not have beneficial results. Therefore, it is best to stick to the recommended intake levels for the foods listed above.

Sources


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2331929

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11427037

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17127727

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