The old adage, “everything in moderation,” seems to ring true in every aspect. It was once believed that only sweets and bad habits needed to be moderated, but we now know that some of the healthier foods and habits can be bad for our health in excess. From spinach to exercise and even water, these healthy staples can become health troubles when practiced or consumed too often.
Though some of the side effects are rare, these health concerns should be taken seriously. If you think you’re living a healthy lifestyle, you might want to look further into our list of healthy things you can have too much of.
Through the latest health trends and new studies, it seems the only thing that you can be absolutely sure of is that exercise is good for you. If there’s anything you can count on to keep you healthy it’s exercise, right? Well, yes, but too much exercise can definitely be harmful. Over-exercising is becoming a big issue, especially for athletes and those trying hard to lose weight. Too much time in the gym can lead to burnout, injury and exercise addiction, which can, in turn, have major negative physical and psychological effects.
If you haven’t tried a juice cleanse, you’ve certainly heard of it and although a combination of fruits and vegetables in a glass may sound healthy, you should take a closer look. Most fruits and vegetables are good for you because of their skin and fiber, most of which is lost when they turn to liquid and that detox idea—forget about it. There is no scientific proof that any juice or product can help you detox or cleanse the body. If you want to drink juice, stick to a very small amount and get your fruit and vegetable fix elsewhere.
The warm feeling sun leaves on our skin is just one of the benefits it brings. Sunshine and the boost of Vitamin D that comes with it helps the immune system, clears up skin conditions and promotes weight loss, but too much sun can be a dangerous thing. Most people only need 10 or 15 minutes of sun exposure per day to reap the benefits, but going longer without protection (like sunscreen) can lead to skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.
With the emphasis on protein as a healthy diet staple it seems the more you eat, the better off you are, right? Not necessarily—over-consumption of protein has been linked to weight gain and stress on your kidneys. Further, lean animal protein like eggs and chicken breast may trigger harmful hormone production in the body that can increase your cancer risk. Vary the types of protein you eat, change it up with some nuts, beans and whole grains.
Dark leafy greens are at the center of a healthy diet, but doctors warn against overdoing it on the spinach. High in oxalate, a compound that can lead to the formation of kidney stones, people already at risk for calcium oxalate kidney stones should take it easy. For most of us though, spinach is a great healthy food choice that offers fiber, vitamins and minerals and one we should eat regularly.
Regular fruit has such a healthy reputation, it seems like dried fruit would also be a good choice, right? Not necessarily. Though it’s tasty and maintains many of the benefits of regular fruit, dried fruit can be a major source of sugar. Not only do people regularly eat too much dried fruit because it’s smaller, but many brands alter the dried fruit with added sugar and artificial coloring. Check the ingredients before you go sprinkling these all over your salad. A single quarter cup of Craisins from Ocean Spray contains 29 grams of sugar.
We know that proper hydration comes with many benefits and, frankly, without water we would die, but it turns out that too much water can be a major health issue too. Though dangerously excessive water consumption is rare and most often happens to extreme athletes like ultrarunners, drinking too much can cause water intoxication. Excessive amounts of water dilute the sodium in the body, which can mean big problems for brain functions and in very rare cases, death.
Related: How Much Water Should You Drink to Stay Hydrated?
Some of the healthiest food around—apples, oranges and tomatoes can actually cause problems if you eat too much of them. High in acid, too many acidic foods can damage the esophagus and stomach lining, which, in the long run, can lead to Barrett's Esophagus, a disorder in which precancerous lesions form on esophageal lining.
Highly acidic diets can also cause reflux and erode tooth enamel, which can lead to cavities. To avoid acid-related issues, limit your servings of apples, oranges and tomatoes to two per day.
This healthy, convenient canned food is known for its protein and Omega 3 fatty acids, but too much of this good food can yield bad results. Canned tuna contains high levels of mercury and when you have too much mercury in your system it can lead to vision problems, impaired hearing and speech, lack of coordination, and muscle weakness. To avoid these problems, doctors suggest limiting yourself to three cans per week or trading tuna for a lower-mercury fish like salmon, shrimp or Pollock.
You’ve probably heard that a lack of sleep can be bad for your health, leaving you susceptible to disease, weight gain and depression, but did you know too much sleep can be bad for your health too? According to doctors, most people don’t get enough sleep, but there are plenty of people who get too much. Too much sleep can lead to an increased risk of chronic diseases, including America's No. 1 killer, heart disease. Your best shot at staying healthy is to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.