To quote The Who, “too much of anything, is too much for me.” This is common sense for many things, but could it be true for your health? Are there instances when you can actually be too healthy?
The truth is, yes, there are several ways you can take what would normally be considered healthy and make it become unhealthy. Whether it’s to do with your weight, your diet, or how you exercise, it’s possible for a health positive to turn into a negative.
Of the three “unhealthy healthies” we’ll investigate today, being too thin is probably the most discussed. We’ve even talked about it a little bit in the past, discussing signs of eating disorders in seniors. Eating disorders are the most discussed instances of being underweight, like the famous cases of anorexia or bulimia that tend to get featured in the news. But, in some cases, weight loss in seniors is a natural part of aging, and it can be easy to become underweight in a way that has nothing to do with an eating disorder. What complicates the matter is that a healthy weight differs from person to person. While you can use BMI to get a ballpark idea of a healthy range, you should trust your doctor’s opinion on what is a healthy weight for you.
Being underweight could be an even larger concern for seniors, who are at a higher risk of falls and lessened bone density through aging as well.
Being underweight can be very detrimental to your health. One study found that young female runners that were underweight suffered a greater number of stress fractures and took longer to heal. This may mean that being underweight could be an even larger concern for seniors, who are at a higher risk of falls and lessened bone density through aging as well. There’s also evidence that being underweight can inhibit your immune system, making it easier to get sick. Again, this may be of more concern for seniors, since your immune system can weaken with age. Finally (though not the only remaining health detriment), being underweight can cause you to become anemic and exhausted, since being too thin tends to mean you’re body is lacking enough energy to go about your daily life. So, while you don’t want to be over the range of a healthy weight, being under it is bad as well.
Eating a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do for your body and overall health. In fact, your diet can greatly influence what we just talked about — your weight. If you’re looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, your diet is the first place to look. That said, focusing on eating healthy can itself become an unhealthy obsession and turn into orthorexia, an eating disorder that focuses on meals strictly falling into a healthy diet.
Eating healthy becomes a problem — orthorexia — when sufferers begin to skip entire meals that don’t live up to their impossibly high health standards. Originally coined in 1998, the term “orthorexia” has yet to become an official diagnosis, but there is a growing understanding and knowledge of the condition. It may also be comorbid in those with obsessive-compulsive disorder or anxiety conditions. Worse yet, it may be on the rise, with the prevalence of #dietgoals on social media making certain diets en vogue.
Worse yet, orthorexia may be on the rise, with the prevalence of #dietgoals on social media making certain diets en vogue.
Eating healthy is good, but there are signs of when it becomes orthorexia. Chief among these is when your diet takes over your life and you spend too much time researching food and diet or refusing to eat large groups of food for dieting reasons (that haven’t been directed by a professional). Spending hours each day focusing on the purity of your diet, or other people’s diets, are also signs of orthorexia.
Like many eating disorders, orthorexia has a risky combination of cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and neurological consequences, to name a few. Specific to orthorexia, however, you can throw your gut health out of whack by because it can cause a lack a healthy gut diversity. This can lead to digestive, mental, and emotional issues.
The other keystone of physical health that we haven’t covered yet is physical fitness. Yes, you can be too physically fit. In fact, both the way and amount you exercise can be detrimental to your health.
Overtraining is a thing. In the past, we’ve discussed how resting is important for healthy exercise. Working out too often can become unhealthy, especially if it begins to take over your life, even becoming an addiction. What’s worse is that overtraining can have the opposite affect you’re going for. Overtraining can leave you feeling tired, sore, and weaken your muscles, all of which limits your ability to exercise. Pushing yourself too hard when you work out, or overtraining, may not only hurt you in the ways we just discussed, but regularly overtraining can also damage your heart. It may even be able to trigger heart attacks.
Overtraining can leave you feeling tired, sore, and weaken your muscles, all of which limits your ability to exercise.
Following certain fitness trends can also be unhealthy. When you exercise in an unhealthy way or have an unhealthy mindset toward exercise, it can take an otherwise healthy activity and make it harmful. Specifically, fitness trends that aim to give you potentially impossible or dangerous physical features, like thigh gaps or ab cracks, are worth being wary of. Of the two mentioned, both have more to do with genetics than fitness. In fact, an ab crack can be a sign of underdeveloped muscles paired with low body fat.
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A lot of the circumstances revolving around being healthy and fit today come down to balance. A healthy diet is good. Fixating on having a healthy diet isn’t. Exercise and physical fitness is good for you but overdoing it and pushing yourself too hard can hurt your body. And most of us want to lose a little weight, but a healthy weight range should be the goal. As we said in the beginning, too much of anything is too much.
Please note, if you suffer from any of the addictions or disorders discussed in this article, please seek help. Your health is important, and with the right help from your doctor or another health professional, you can work toward your goals the healthy way!