THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON MIND BODY GREEN.
My job as a functional medicine expert give
s me the opportunity to be part of people’s health journey from around the globe. Before they discover functional medicine and come to see me, most of my patients have tried just about everything to improve their health on their own. The majority of the men and women who walk into my office don’t eat junk food and do live clean lives, but despite their best efforts they are still struggling with their health.
Underlying health problems like adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues, digestive problems, and autoimmune or inflammatory conditions can be difficult to heal with general healthy living. Eat more vegetables; don’t eat junk food—OK—but now what? By digging deeper and taking it to the next level with functional medicine, I am able to uncover what is keeping my patients’ bodies from thriving.
So for all you clean eaters and fitness lovers out there, if your health still isn’t where you want it to be, here are some common mistakes I find that even the most health-conscious people are making:
1. Eating healthy foods that are not optimal for you.
In functional medicine we understand that what works for one person may not work for the next. Because of food sensitivities and underlying gut problems, I see many healthy eaters unintentionally stressing out their bodies. Trying out an elimination diet can be a simple way for you to take charge of your food and figure out exactly what your body loves and hates.
2. Too many natural sweeteners.
Natural sweeteners sound healthier, so it’s tempting to eat more of them without restraint. Agave nectar is a very popular natural sweetener that is often touted as a better option to use for those who are concerned about their health because it is considered low-glycemic. What is not normally mentioned is the high-fructose content of agave nectar, which is highly processed. And even though fructose is low on the glycemic index, it still damages your body—converting the fructose into glucose, glycogen, lactate, and fat in your liver. This and other high-fructose foods put stress on your liver, contributing to fatty liver disease and insulin resistance.
In addition, the white powdered form of stevia is chemically altered and often contains additives. Xylitol is another healthier sugar substitute, but it can contribute to digestive problems. Even raw honey and maple syrup can be unhealthy if used in large quantities. Therefore, it’s important to still use even natural sweeteners in moderation. Shoot for no more than 2 tablespoons per day.
3. Stressing out over food.
While it’s important to always be conscious of the food you’re putting into your body, it becomes detrimental to your health when it becomes a point of stress. Giving yourself anxiety from constantly overthinking your diet is counterproductive. You can eat kale and kombucha all day long, but if you’re serving yourself a big slice of stress every day it can affect just about every system of your body. Stress has been implicated in chronic health issues such as autoimmunity, brain problems, adrenal fatigue, and gut issues. If you find yourself consumed with stress and anxious thoughts, incorporating a mindfulness practice into your regular wellness routine will help bring some calm back into your life.
Exercise is an important part of any wellness routine; it reawakens our bodies from the inside out to help us beat fatigue and regain energy. But as with everything in life, balance is essential. After we work out, our muscle fibers need time to recover and repair themselves. Not allowing them adequate time to recover can increase inflammation throughout the body, which, in turn, can affect our immune system and contribute to adrenal fatigue.