In Part 1, we saw how good things in excess can adversely affect our health. In this follow up blog, I talk of bad things in excess, which is also not right.
Let’s take a look at some of these bad things in excess and how it could be detrimental to our health.
1) Excessive consumption of junk/processed foods: Fast food means food that can be made and served quickly. These junk foods are mostly processed, containing large amounts of refined carbohydrates, added refined sugars, added salt (sodium) and bad quality fats. They are high on calories but, minimal on nutritional value. Eating junk/processed foods instead of fresh, whole, nutritious food has many adverse effects on the body. Junk foods and drinks are packed with refined sugars which cause insulin spike gradually leading to insulin resistance and Type- 2 diabetes.
The empty calories just go easily go into the body fat store leading to obesity which can further give rise to severe health issues like heart problems, respiratory problems, etc. The trans fats in the junk foods, increase the LDL cholesterol levels and subsequently decrease the HDL cholesterol levels. Lot of salt (sodium) causes water retention, high blood pressure and enlarged heart muscle. Too much sugars cause acidity which destroy the tooth enamel causing dental cavities. MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) found in processed foods create stomach distress. Some of the artificial colors and preservatives used in processed foods are found to be carcinogenic (cancer causing). Drinking too much of soda can leach calcium out of the bones making them soft and brittle. Also, the aluminium soda cans are inwardly lined with an epoxy resin called bisphenol A (BPA) which protects the metal can from the reaction of acids in the sodas. This BPA is found to be disrupting normal hormone functioning that can lead to obesity, diabetes and reproductive cancers.
2) Excessive alcohol consumption: It is no big secret that alcohol consumption has no good effects but, chronic heavy drinking has many bad effects. Researchers have found alcohol to be linked to more than 60 diseases. Alcohol can cause liver cirrhosis. Alcohol is empty calories so, can cause unwanted fat storage in the body. Alcohol disturbs the working of the sympathetic nervous system leading to high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke and kidney disease. Heavy drinking can cause gastritis (stomach irritation), inflammation of pancreas, decrease in immunity, nerve damage (alcoholic neuropathy). As people age, their brains shrink but, heavy drinking can cause faster brain shrinking leading to memory loss and other symptoms of dementia. Depressed people drink to ‘feel good’ but, in fact, drinking leads to further depression. Alcohol can aggravate the condition of gout. It can worsen the condition of an epileptic and cause seizures even in non-epileptic individuals. Chronic heavy drinking can lead to cancer of the mouth, esophagus, liver, breast, and colorectal region.
3) Excessive cigarette smoking/tobacco chewing: Nicotine is a highly addictive drug that alters the brain chemistry making it both, physically and psychologically addictive. According to AHA (American Heart Association), nicotine causes short-term rise in heart-rate, blood flow and blood pressure which, in a long term, can cause cardiovascular complications. Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke causes fat buildup in arteries leading to hardening of the arterial walls (atherosclerosis). Tobacco smoking and chewing, both, can lead to oral and lung cancers. Smoking/chewing tobacco can also cause tissue damage in various organs of the body and dental diseases.
4) Excessive Tea/Coffee drinking: We all wish to have a cup of tea/coffee to kick-start our day. It’s not too bad to drink tea and coffee. It is the too much drinking that is the concern.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate, yerba mate and certain herbal teas. Caffeine is generally a very safe stimulant. It improves alertness and is a mood enhancer. Usually, it is 200-300 mg of coffee that can be safely consumed per day (roughly 3 cups) but, this differs from person to person, depending on their own ‘caffeine sensitivity’. Too much coffee consumption can lead to symptoms like irritability, nervousness, headache, dizziness, insomnia, fever, increased heart-rate, increased thirst, stomach upset and muscle tremors. Same is the case with teas. A cup of hot tea in the morning will boost your energy for the day where as a cup of herbal tea at night will help you relax. Tea contains lesser amount of caffeine than coffee but, there are side effects of having too much of it.
Drinking too many cups of tea in a day can lead to symptoms like restlessness, anxiety, disturbed sleep, skeletal fluorosis (a painful bone condition), yellow pigmentation of the teeth. Green tea is no less. Though healthy, if had too much, it can worsen the condition in people suffering from high blood pressure, anxiety and stomach ulcers.
5) Excessive stress: In this fast paced world, stress is become an inevitable part of our lifestyle. Our body reacts/adjusts to outward changes with physical, mental and emotional responses. This response amounts to stress. Stress is a part of our daily, normal lives. Our body is designed to feel and react to 2 kinds of stress; positive and negative stress. Positive stress is the one where the body prepares itself for a ‘fight or flight’ mode. Negative stress is the one in which the body is continuously facing challenges, without time for rest and recovery. As a result, stress related tensions build up. A person going through stress for a very long time without relief, can enter a stage called as ‘distress’. This distress is indicated by many physical symptoms like fatigue, headache, dizziness, disturbed sleep patterns, high blood pressure, stomach upsets. Stress plays a role in aggravating medical conditions like diabetes, blood pressure, heart problems, depression, asthma, anxiety, skin problems, gastrointestinal disorders, Obesity, Alzheimer’s disease. In many cases, chronic, untreated stress can also lead to accelerated ageing and premature death.
Lastly, I would like to end by saying, “too much of anything, is good for nothing”.