You’ve probably heard the saying, “Everything in moderation.” It’s a phrase that reminds us to try to avoid doing anything in extremes.
In some cases, most of us agree that there are things that are so harmful they should be eliminated altogether, like illicit drugs. But when it comes to what we eat and drink, it’s much easier to push aside the knowledge of how dangerous the ingredients are and enjoy them anyway.
The truth is that there are some foods and beverages that are delicious, but if you aren’t careful, they can be extremely damaging to your overall health. To ensure you’re taking care of your body as best as possible, try to avoid these harmful foods and beverages or indulge in moderation only.
1. Sticky, Chewy, and Hard Foods
We’ll start with the items most damaging to your teeth. When you eat hard, sticky, and chewy foods, it makes your jaw muscles and teeth work more than they should.
Chronic overuse of those muscles and the delicate temporomandibular joint (TMJ) that opens and closes your mouth can lead to TMJ disorders and bruxism. Although these conditions are treatable with therapy and the right occlusal splint (see this article about night guards from JS Dental Lab), they’re not fun.
On top of those concerns, eating these foods can lead to instant dental issues. For instance, biting into a hard item at the wrong angle can cause your tooth to chip or break, which leads to painful nerve exposure. Sticky foods may pull any dental restorations, like crowns, right out of your mouth!
It’s the bane of our existence, but oh, does it make food taste so good!
Sugar of any kind will sweeten whatever you’re eating. The downside is that it is a source of empty calories, so unlike calories from, say, an apple, you won’t get any nutrition from it.
However, what you do get from sugar’s calories is energy; hence, the term “sugar rush.” With enough sugar, you’ll feel a quick hit of the human version of dog or cat zoomies, and you’ll think you can tackle anything! But this unhealthy energy wears off fast, and you’ll crash before you can finish the project you started.
Over time, that excess sugar affects your body. It can change your insulin production, resulting in diabetes. Weight gain is a normal side effect, and those issues lead to heart disease.
Sugar is healthiest when it’s consumed through naturally occurring foods, like veggies, fruits, and milk products. Try to cut back on any sugar you get from candy, sweets, sodas, or fruit juice.
Similar to sugar, caffeine will give you a quick, short burst of energy. This jolt is one of the main reasons why coffee and caffeinated sodas are so popular! But this source of caffeine brings plenty of harmful side effects with it.
To start, if you’re a coffee drinker, the beans you choose matter. Beans from plants that are grown with pesticides and herbicides could be toxic.
In addition, most of those beverages have added sugar to make them taste good, adding the side effects of sweeteners to their list of unhealthy features.
Caffeine from chocolate, sodas, and other beverages may lead to long-term conditions like high blood pressure, headaches, insomnia, and daytime fatigue. High doses of caffeine boost your risk of heart disease and cause digestive disorders.
4. Saturated Fats and Trans Fats
If you’ve ever had wellness labs, you know there are different types of cholesterol levels. Good cholesterol, officially called high-density lipoprotein or HDL, is directly related to how active you are. It absorbs the bad cholesterol in your blood and carries it to the liver to be processed.
However, the “bad” levels, low-density lipoprotein or LDL, are linked to excess saturated and trans fats. When they aren’t flushed out fast enough, they build up in your body and lead to heart problems and other dangerous conditions.
Saturated fat includes any fried food, fatty meat, or ghee. The more bland it is, the safer it likely is to your body. Yet, we prefer tasty foods, and fats like oils make our meals richer.
Unsaturated fats are healthier — but watch out for trans fats. These are unsaturated fats that are chemically modified, so they taste and behave like saturated fat. The modification gives them more stability and a longer shelf life.
Staying away from saturated and trans fats can be a challenge because they are so tasty. Still, you can make little changes to reduce how often you eat those fats.
Instead of frying your chicken, invest in an air fryer. The results are similar, but you don’t use the greasy oil. When given the choice between fried and grilled meals, opt for grilled. You won’t notice the flavor difference for long, but your heart will thank you by lasting longer!
Trying to cut out your favorite meals and drinks cold turkey might be a little intimidating, but the good news is that you don’t have to. As long as you can use your willpower to limit your intake of these four harmful foods and beverages, you can keep enjoying them in moderation!