Many of us seem to think that if a little of something healthy is good, a lot is even better. (Ever found yourself miserably muttering “No pain, no gain”?) But when it comes to our well-being, more isn’t always better. Read on to see where you may be overdoing it and how to scale back and enjoy a big health boost.
1. Vitamin overkill
Megadosing on vitamins and minerals can have toxic results ranging from headache and gastric upset to blurred vision and increased risk of hip fractures. “The word ‘supplement’ means to add to,” says holistic nutritionist Sally Kravich, author of Vibrant Living: Creating Radiant Health and Longevity. “The goal is to get our essential vitamins from eating a diet rich in nutrients.”
Kravich’s streamlined approach includes a B-complex vitamin (you can skip it if you eat plenty of brown rice, lentils and legumes), fish oil (pass if you eat eggs or wild salmon daily) and calcium (plentiful in most dairy products). In addition, if you live in a cool climate, you are probably not getting enough vitamin D from the sun and need a supplement, especially if you use sunscreen. Kravich recommends taking supplements in liquid or powder form for optimal absorption.
2. Excessive tooth-brushing
Using too much pressure and/or a brush with hard bristles when you brush your teeth can damage delicate gum tissue and lead to recession. To protect your gums and teeth, use a soft-bristle brush and a gentle hand in a circular motion. “If your gums bleed when you brush, ask your dentist to show you the proper technique,” urges Kravich. Rinse your mouth with plain water between meals to remove excess bacteria, and floss regularly to remove plaque.
3. Fanatical fasting
Kravich isn’t opposed to the occasional controlled, supervised cleanse, but she warns that extreme fasting can trigger a rebound binge. To avoid what Kravich calls the “starve and stuff” mentality, she teaches clients to make small dietary changes at a time. “Try to reduce your intake of processed, packaged food, or to eat less sugar or fast food and more clean foods,” she encourages. “Gradual changes are easier to sustain.”
4. Stressing about your health
Worry actually hurts your health, says Kravich. Instead of imagining worst-case scenarios, focus on what you can do to improve your well-being: Eat a variety of healthy foods, move your body, get lots of sleep, drink plenty of water and do something daily that helps you relax and de-stress. “A massage isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity,” insists Kravich, who also encourages patients to avoid watching or reading the (mostly negative) news at night and instead watch something light and inspirational before bedtime. “That’s what your brain will be processing all night long,” she explains.
(By Jenna McCarthy for Completely You, January 2013)
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