We often look up to healthy, fit people as a benchmark for how we wish to be. We consider their fitness to be an aspirational goal. However, even the healthiest of people may be making some mistakes, and they further propagate these mistakes to others by recommending a certain lifestyle change as good or bad. Here are six things that you need to be aware of so that you can be more discerning about the advice you receive.
Common Bad Habits That Are Often Believed To Be Good
1. Eating Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners have no demonstrated health effects, but there are reasons to believe that aspartame can be dangerous for children and phenylketonurics. Now, in general, artificial sweeteners do have lower calories than their sugar counterparts. However, this in itself can be a disadvantage.
When you use artificial sweeteners, you get fewer calories from a certain amount of sweetness. Hence, you might not be able to associate sugar with calories and end up over-eating sweets and sweetmeats. Another disadvantage is that sweeteners over-stimulate our taste buds with sweetness, making us perceive regular food as less palatable.1
2. Exercising Too Much
When it comes to working out, there is such a thing as overdoing it. Recommendations to exercise 4 days a week are not the minimum threshold but an average guidance given to people. But over-exercising can put undue pressure on the heart. Researchers have observed that people who train for and run triathlons, swim across huge water bodies, and perform other high-endurance activities have a higher rate of heart fibrosis and damage over time.2
3. Not Sleeping Enough
How many of you pride yourselves on the fact that you make do very well with just 4–5 hours of sleep a day? Do you think of it as saving time to do more things? If so, know this: all adult human beings need a minimum of 7–8 hours of sleep each day. Even those who are otherwise healthy can damage their health severely simply by not sleeping enough.
Sleep is a time of restoration for both the body and mind. Medically, lack of sleep increases high blood pressure and the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which is in control of your reactions to stressful conditions. Sleep deprivation also decreases leptin levels in the body, leading to obesity.3
4. Avoiding Variety In Food
We all have food preferences. But if you’re eating the same pasta with the same sauce every single day, it definitely is a cause for concern! You might be eating only a certain kind of vegetable or fruit. Even if you are otherwise healthy and active, doing so will make you lose out on a diverse set of nutrients from different food groups. One can say that going on a diet also has the same effect, but a lifetime of deprivation of a certain food or food group is quite unlike anything else.
5. Eating Too Much Protein
We are often told that too many carbs are bad for us. The truth is that too much of any food group is bad for us, and protein is no exception. If meat makes up a part of every single meal you eat, it is time to step back and consider if you’re eating different varieties, such as fish, poultry, eggs and red meat.
Protein metabolism in the body generates sulfate and phosphate compounds, which can, in turn, apply pressure on the kidneys as these are harmful wastes. Due to the alkaline state of the body when eating protein, bone health is also affected in the long run.4
6. Drinking Excess Alcohol
Opinions are divided on alcohol, with some diets even recommending a glass of red wine to improve heart health. But in general, alcohol is bad for the whole body. The liver often bears the brunt of turning ethyl alcohol into harmless excretory waste. In chronic alcoholics, liver cirrhosis is quite common.
The thing about alcohol consumption is that even a healthy and fit individual cannot escape its ill effects. Drinking alcohol can weaken the immune system and also be a risk factor for the development of several cancers.5
The next time someone tells you that it is okay to eat artificial sweeteners, that adequate sleep is optional, or all-protein diets are the best, don’t believe them! Go over the pros and cons and create a diet that’s perfect specifically for your body.
|↑1||Artificial sweeteners: sugar-free, but at what cost?. Harvard Medical School.|
|↑2||O’keefe, James H., Harshal R. Patil, Carl J. Lavie, Anthony Magalski, Robert A. Vogel, and Peter A. McCullough. “Potential adverse cardiovascular effects from excessive endurance exercise.” In Mayo Clinic Proceedings, vol. 87, no. 6, pp. 587-595. Elsevier, 2012.|
|↑3||Gangwisch, James E., Steven B. Heymsfield, Bernadette Boden-Albala, Ruud M. Buijs, Felix Kreier, Thomas G. Pickering, Andrew G. Rundle, Gary K. Zammit, and Dolores Malaspina. “Short sleep duration as a risk factor for hypertension.” hypertension 47, no. 5 (2006): 833-839.|
|↑4||Barzel, Uriel S., and Linda K. Massey. “Excess dietary protein can adversely affect bone.” The Journal of nutrition 128, no. 6 (1998): 1051-1053.|
|↑5||Alcohol’s Effects on the Body. National Institutes Of Health.|