A lot of us have been blindly following so-called health advice for years without realizing that some of it may be doing us more harm than good. More studies that disprove once-believed health myths are now making their way into the mainstream.
Here are 10 common health mistakes to skip and tips on how to avoid them.
10 Common Health Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
1. Eating a low fat diet
The human brain is made up of almost 60% fat. Fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, are essential for brain function, and we must get these fats through our food.1 While it’s important to avoid trans fats from highly processed sources, such as hydrogenated vegetable oils, there are plenty of healthy fats that are important to include in your diet.
Coconut oil, full-fat raw dairy (unless you have dairy sensitivities), avocados, fish and nuts are some good sources of healthy fats. Find out more on why butter is good for you and how raw milk can help to reduce allergies and asthma.
2. Drinking eight glasses of water a day
Water is good for you, but there is no perfect “one-size-fits-all” amount of water for every person. Too much water is actually not good for you. For instance, those with a fast metabolism usually need more water than those with a slow metabolism.
Rather than forcing yourself to drink a certain amount a day, just drink when you start to feel thirsty. Remember that water is also in many foods like fruits, vegetables and homemade bone broth. You can also try a homemade electrolyte drink to stay hydrated instead of too much water.
3. Insane amounts of high intensity cardio
While some cardiovascular exercise is essential, 10 to 30 minutes of cardio a day is all you need. Too much cardio can be dangerous. Too much strain on your heart can increase stress, cause muscle tears, promote insomnia, and even damage your heart.2
So, keep your high-intensity workouts short, or try interval training for an efficient workout that can be completed in about 20 minutes. If you want to work out for an extended period of time, do something slower paced like walking or Yoga. And remember there are a lot of activities you already do that help to burn calories. Check out 20 Ways to Burn Calories Without Trying.
And find out easy ways to stay healthy and fit with Real Fit at Every Age – a fitness guide to optimal health. This e-book will teach you everything you need to know to get healthy from the inside out, including putting healthy thoughts into action and getting your body moving at every age.
4. Restrictive dieting
There’s no need to eliminate whole food groups from your diet (other than processed foods, GMOs or foods with artificial preservatives and preservatives) unless your body doesn’t tolerate or digest it well. Being too restrictive for an extended period of time usually leads to binge eating later. Shift your focus to eat real food made with whole, natural ingredients.
5. Avoiding sodium at all costs
Salt has gotten a bad rep. Iodized table salt has been used to flavor many processed foods, such as microwave dinners and canned soups, and should not be consumed in excess. However, sodium in its natural form, like Himalayan sea salt, is necessary to keep you healthy.3
Sodium is essential to maintain fluid balance in our blood cells, cardiovascular function, nervous system function and uptake of certain nutrients from our small intestines. Maintain your body’s sodium levels by eating salt (your body doesn’t create it naturally) to make up for what you lose in our sweat and urine. Learn more in 12 reasons salt is good for you.
6. Zero calorie/sugar-free drinks
If you’re trying to cut calories by drinking zero calorie or sugar-free drinks, be sure they are made with all-natural ingredients. Many bottled “health” drinks and diet sodas contain artificial dyes, preservatives or sweeteners like aspartame and should be avoided. These additives are dangerous when consumed in excess and can cause cancer, among other health issues.
If plain water just isn’t cutting it, you can make your own flavored “vitamin waters” at home by adding sliced fruit and/or veggies to a pitcher of filtered water. Lemon water and herbal teas are great options for low calorie, low sugar drinks.
You can also try a few drops of lemon, grapefruit or lime essential oils in your water for a natural vitamin water. I only recommend Young Living essential oils for consumption. Learn more about essential oils in the Don’t Mess with Mama Essential Oils Group. Find out where to buy Young Living essential oils.
7. Substituting soy for meat
Up to 94% of soy in the US is genetically modified, which is a definite area for concern. When eaten regularly, soy can also disrupt the endocrine system, cause an imbalance in estrogen levels and promote breast cancer growth.4 Read more on the dangers of soy and why soybean oil is harmful to your health.
Fermented soy, such as miso, tempeh and soy sauce (try Coconut Aminos instead), is okay when eaten in small amounts (though they may contain gluten). However, if you choose to eat a plant-based diet, opt for protein from beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, broccoli, hemp and quinoa instead of soy.
8. Taking prescription medications for every illness
Pharmaceuticals are not always necessary and can have negative side effects when used for an extended period of time. In many cases, a change in diet and exercise can drastically improve your health. Many of the harmful side effects caused by pharmaceutical drugs can be avoided by taking a more natural healing approach.
Please note that if you have any critical health concerns, you should consult a medical professional or natural health practitioner immediately. The above is a general statement that should be used with your best judgment.
9. Counting Calories
While consuming too many or too few calories can get in the way of your weight loss or gain goal, not all calories are created equal. For example, 300 calories of a high quality grass-fed meat with a side of vegetables will nourish your body much more than 300 calories of sugary, processed junk filled with artificial ingredients.
If you’re paying attention to your calories, focus more on the nutritional value than the number.
10. Following a health regimen that doesn’t work for your own body
If you’re not feeling your personal best, change something. If a certain food or habit makes you sick, cut it out of your life. Remember there is no one-size-fits-all health regimen, so don’t be quick to jump on any bandwagons just because of the latest trends. Commit to a healthy lifestyle by paying attention to signs from your body and seeking guidance from experts in areas where you’re confused.
About the Author
Alex Hinton, founder of Caretactics, blogs about natural wellness, DIY self care, real food and mindfulness. Her goal is to lead her readers to improve the world by caring about others, the natural environment and themselves and understanding that we are all connected.
1. Chang CY, Ke DS, Chen JY. Essential fatty acids and human brain, PubMed.
2. Mercola. Too Much Cardio Can Cause a 7-Fold Surge of Heart Problems. 2012 June.
3. Kesser, Chris. Shaking Up the Salt Myth: The Human Need for Salt. 2012.
4. 170 Scientific Studies Confirm the Dangers of Soy. The Healthy Home Economist. 2014.
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