We all want to be as healthy as possible. So when we read somewhere that eating high levels of protein is the best way to be healthy, of course, we up our protein intake. However, extremes are rarely a healthy choice for our bodies. There are so many of these "healthy" habits we embrace with a little too much zeal, and it can mean depleting our bodies of essential vitamins and minerals. We spoke to nutritionist Fiona Tuck to find out how we can get some balance back into our healthy lifestyles.
1. Taking Heartburn Medication Long-Term
Antacids or proton pump inhibitor medications decrease the amount of stomach acid being produced to alleviate acid reflux and heartburn. Long term use can deplete vitamin B12 leading to a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is required for hemoglobin synthesis, a healthy nervous system, and cognitive function to name just a few. Deficiency can manifest as pernicious anaemia, poor memory, poor cognitive function, numbness or tingling in the extremities, and tiredness. Depleted choline may also result from long-term antacid use. Choline is required for fat emulsification, neurotransmitter synthesis, and healthy brain function.
Increase your intake of vitamin B12-rich foods such as red meat, liver, mussels, pate, and fish. Eggs, chickpeas, and soy lecithin are beneficial for upping your choline intake. It's also beneficial to speak to your doctor if you are on long-term antacids to have your vitamin B12 levels checked.
2. Eating Too Much Protein
A high-protein diet that includes red meat and protein powders can create an acidic environment in the body by producing ammonia, a by-product of the breakdown of protein. In order to compensate for the high-acid diet, the body withdraws on alkaline minerals such as calcium.
Long-term high-protein diets combined with a diet high in acid-forming foods such as salt, sugar, and coffee can have adverse effects on the bones by leaching calcium. The body needs more water if protein intake is high to flush out waste products like ammonia. This can put a strain on the kidneys. The amount of protein you need can vary depending on health, age, and weight, so always refer to a nutritionist to ensure you are eating the right amount for your body.
3. Taking Antibiotics
Antibiotics kill off bacterial infections within the body, but they can also destroy the good bacteria that are naturally present in our gut. Chronic antibiotic use can disrupt natural microbiomes or gut flora, which can affect immune function and mood, and can lead to digestive discomfort.
After finishing a course of antibiotics, it is beneficial to take a course of probiotics to help recolonize the healthy gut bacteria. Increase prebiotic foods to help support the probiotics such as fresh fruits and vegetables as well as fiber. Increase small amounts of fermented foods such as fermented vegetables, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir.
4. Consuming Too Much Fiber
There is the possibility of lowered absorption of minerals if large amounts of fiber from rice, bran, and grains are eaten at every meal. Fiber is essential for healthy bowel function; it lowers cholesterol and helps to regulate hormones, so aim to include easy-to-digest fiber such fruits and lightly cooked vegetables.
Avoid eating large servings of legumes, rice, wheat, and bran-type products, which can cause bloating and gas. Keep portions small and ensure beans and pulses are well prepared and cooked to avoid any unpleasant digestive side effects. When eating high-fiber foods, drink plenty of clean filtered water to avoid excess thirst or constipation. Aim for more than three grams of fiber per serving.
5. Taking Menopause Supplements: Black Cohosh and Soy Isoflavones
Soy isoflavones can have a phytoestrogen-like effect in the body. This means they can mimic the action of estrogen by blocking estrogen receptor sites. They may be beneficial as phytoestrogens are mild estrogens, which are weaker than normal or synthetic estrogen.
They may, therefore, protect against harmful xenoestrogens (foreign estrogens from chemicals, plastics, and synthetics) and may actually be protective to the body. There is some concern that harmful estrogens may be linked to estrogen-based cancers.
Avoid genetically modified soy products and highly processed soy products with preservatives, additives, gums, and artificial flavors. Choose non-genetically modified organic soy or fermented soy products.
This article was originally written by Holly Royce. For more, check out our sister site, Now to Love.