We all want to be as healthy as possible.
When you read somewhere that eating high levels of protein is the best way to be healthy, of course, you up your protein intake. However, extremes are rarely a healthy choice for your body.
There are so many of these ‘healthy’ habits we embrace with a little too much zeal, and it can mean depleting your body of essential vitamins and minerals.
We spoke to celebrated nutritionist, Fiona Tuck, to find out how we can get some balance back into our ‘healthy’ lifestyles.
Taking heartburn medication long-term
Antiacids 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 B 12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 is required for haemoglobin synthesis, a healthy nervous system, cognitive function, pernicious anaemia to name just a few. Deficiency signs can show as poor memory, poor cognitive function, numbness or tingling in the extremities, tiredness.
Depleted choline may also result from long-term antiacid use. Choline is required for fat emulsification, neurotransmitter synthesis and healthy brain function.
Increase vitamin B12 foods such as red meat, liver, mussels, pate, fish.
Increase choline foods such as eggs, chickpeas, soy lecithin
It is beneficial to speak to your GP if you are on long term antiacids and have your Vitamin B 12 levels checked.
Eating too much protein
A high protein diet such as red meat and protein powders can create an acidic environment in the body by producing ammonia, a by-product of the break down 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, coffee et 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 e.g. ammonia. This can put a strain on the kidneys.
Aim for 1g of protein per kg of body weight. This can vary depending on health, age, weight so always refer to a nutritionist to ensure you are eating the right amount for your body.
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 microbiome or gut flora which can affect the immune function, mood and may lead to digestive discomfort.
After finishing a course of antibiotics it is beneficial to take a course of probiotics to help recolonise the healthy gut bacteria.
Increase prebiotic foods to help support the probiotics such as fresh fruits and vegetables and fibre.
Increase small amounts of fermented foods such as fermented vegetables, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir.
Consuming too much fibre
There is the possibility of lowered absorption of minerals if large amounts of fibre, e.g., rice, bran and grains are eaten at every meal.
Fibre is essential for healthy bowel function; it lowers cholesterol, helps to regulate hormones, so aim to include easy to digest fibre 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 pulse are well prepared and cooked to avoid any unpleasant digestive side effects.
When eating high fibre foods drink plenty of clean filtered water to avoid excess thirst or constipation.
Aim for more than 3g of fibre per serve.
Taking menopause supplements such as black cohosh and soy isoflavones
Soy isoflavones can have a phytoestrogen like effect in the body.
This means they can mimic the action of oestrogen by blocking oestrogen receptor sites. They may be beneficial as phytoestrogens are mild oestrogens which are weaker than normal or synthetic oestrogen.
They may, therefore, protect against harmful xenooestrogens (foreign oestrogens from chemicals, plastics and synthetics) so may actually be protective to the body. There is some concern that harmful oestrogens may be linked to oestrogen based cancers.
Avoid genetically modified soy products and highly processed soy products with preservatives, additives, gums and artificial flavours. Choose non-GM organic soy or fermented soy products.