For many people, the term “wellness culture” is synonymous with the American health-obsessed culture, but the two are different. While it may seem like an overused buzzword, there is a difference between living a healthy and a wellness lifestyle. While the push for people to take charge of their health is amazing, this rhetoric has some dangers. Particularly when people go too far with it because even healthy habits can become detrimental to your health when done in excess.
3 Ways Wellness Culture Might Be Making You Sick
Wellness is more than just eating well and exercising regularly—it’s also about finding what makes you feel good in your skin and mind. It’s about understanding your body’s needs and working towards meeting those needs. It’s about looking inward for answers instead of externally for solutions. And it’s about doing things that are right for you and your body, rather than simply following trends or what everyone else says is best for them. This, in itself, is a very good thing.
“Wellness” has become quite popular worldwide, with people putting much more intention and attention into their lifestyle. Just because something is popular, however, doesn’t mean that it’s actually good for you—and unfortunately, this applies to some aspects of wellness culture as well. We tend to often think that if something is good for us, then a lot of that thing will be great for us. This is not true, and can sometimes be dangerous. These are three aspects of the wellness trend that you might be overdoing – and it might be making you sick.
1. Over Supplementation
Overdose of some nutrients and compounds can make you sick. While hard to achieve overdose with just food alone, supplements make having too much of a good thing very possible.
There are a number of supplements that can be dangerous when taken in high doses. For example, magnesium is an essential mineral that many people lack in their diet. Taking too much magnesium at once can lead to serious side effects, including stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Another example is vitamin A and beta-carotene supplements which can cause liver damage if taken in large amounts over a long period of time. (1)
Another vitamin that is easy to overdose on is vitamin D. Excess vitamin D can cause calcium to build up in the blood, which can be deadly. To avoid overdosing on supplements, it is important to read labels and consult a doctor or pharmacist or your health care practitioner when taking any new supplement for the first time.
2. Avoid Vegetables Because of ‘Plant Toxins’
We all know that a diet high in a variety of fruits and especially vegetables is what we should all strive to eat. That being said, even veggies can have a dark side. Consuming too many veggies that contain plant toxins can cause you adverse health effects. Primarily, I am referring to nightshade family vegetables and those high in oxalates. (2) However, and this is a big HOWEVER, you would need to consume an excess of these veggies for this to be a problem.
Completely avoiding certain plant foods due to supposed ‘toxins’ like oxalates could actually be a mistake. While oxalates can interfere with the absorption of certain minerals like calcium, we must remember that plants are an important source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that offer major health benefits. These benefits have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
It is important to remember that although some plant foods may contain toxins, they are not harmful in small amounts. This is especially true for people with healthy kidneys who can process and eliminate them without issues. Besides, many plant foods that contain oxalates usually need to be consumed in high amounts regularly to lead to any health problems.
Someone’s overall diet pattern is what matters the most. Eating various plant foods that provide a range of nutrients is key to achieving optimal health. Cutting out all plant foods that contain oxalates may actually do more harm than good by limiting the intake of essential nutrients.
In conclusion, it is important to consume various plant foods and not avoid them based on misconceptions regarding toxins like oxalates. Including a rich variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds in one’s diet could help to achieve optimal health, and the intake of small amounts of oxalates is not going to be harmful. So next time you hear someone fear monger over nightshades or eating normal amounts of spinach, put your critical thinking cap on, and think about what we’ve just discussed.
3. Nutrient Excess
The primary nutrients causing excess problems are vitamin A, copper, and iron. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that plays a role in vision, bone growth and immune function. It’s also an antioxidant that can protect against cancer. However, too much of this fat-soluble vitamin can be toxic and cause liver damage. This condition is known as hypervitaminosis A. (3)
Copper is another essential mineral needed by the body for various functions including iron absorption, energy production and connective tissue formation. But too much copper can cause liver and brain damage. It’s also been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, although this link hasn’t yet been proven.
Iron is an essential mineral that plays a role in red blood cell formation and oxygen transportation throughout the body. Excess iron can sometimes cause oxidative stress and lead to tissue damage or cancer.
So the overarching message here is to consume what you need from whole foods and to supplement when deficient. However, there are certain nutrients that you need to be careful of consuming too much of.
The Bottom Line
Plenty of aspects of the Wellness Trend are good for you. If done right, this trend promotes a balanced diet, safe exercise, appropriate water intake, good sleep, and limiting intake of things such as alcohol and other non-essentials. Supplementation, too, can be an important part of health. This is particularly if you struggle with deficiency or you have dietary restrictions that make it hard to consume or absorb enough of certain nutrients. Before starting a supplement, however, you should always get your actual status of that nutrient tested. This will prevent you from taking something you don’t need that could also be dangerous. You should also continue to check your levels periodically to ensure you aren’t getting too much.
Remember: The key to living healthfully is eating real food (not prepackaged, processed foods), focusing on fruit and vegetable consumption, and not consuming any one thing in excess.
Keep Reading: Turmeric for arthritis, how well does it work?
- “Vitamin A.” NCBI. November 4, 2020.
- “A lot of veg is ‘toxic’ but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat it” New Scientist.
- “Mortality in Randomized Trials of Antioxidant Supplements for Primary and Secondary PreventionSystematic Review and Meta-analysis.” JAMA Network. Goran Bjelakovic, MD., et al. February 28, 2007