Medical Mama on Moderation

 

Sometimes I wonder if our desire to be healthy or fit can lead us to extremism or  even bad decisions. This bothers me especially when it requires  uneccessarily spending large amounts of money. We all know the fitness  industry is a multi-million dollar one and they are making money off of  us! I'm sure we've all been guilty of looking to the next great thing  that is going to make us lose our gut, finally have a fabulous figure  and make us feel like we did when we were 18. (Man, if only.) We go out  and buy all the gear, the dvds and equipment only to give up after a few weeks of being hard core returning to our comfortable old habits. Such  is life and human nature.

 

By the  way, this is not the trend with the low-income patient population I serve and believe me, I would prefer some of this activity (without the fees) to nothing. Unfortunately, most of my patients have  grown up without the money or the know-how to buy fresh, healthy foods  or get regular physical activity. The food stamps only go so far and  usually land them in the middle of the store with the cheetos, snack  cakes (which are ten for a dollar!) and koolaid. I spend a lot of my  time encouraging baby steps (which I'm a strong believer in) like  cutting down from literally 5 to 3 Pepsi's a day. Of course these bad  habits lead to diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and heart  disease--the #1 killer. We see all of these same diseases in high income patients who continue to spend a lot of money in the fitness industry,  but give up too soon and never get rid of that gut.

 

Equally disconcerting is watching people (even thin, active people) spend  hundreds and thousands of dollars on supplements, diet programs and the latest injection of a non-FDA  approved drug in hopes of attaining that long desired body or good  fitness feeling many times with no end change. The "no end change" is  one problem, but doing harm is another that concerns me more. There is  nothing wrong with exercise programs or even certain supplements. I'm  sure there are benefits from herbals and other supplements we don't even know about yet. And there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to be heard. But, for now the statistical evidence doesn't even really  show a definable benefit to taking a multivitamin with the exception of  folate during childbearing years to prevent neural tube defects.

 

My biggest concern is when people ingest supplements in high quantities  that are not regulated by the FDA or anyone for that matter. Most  likely, whole food supplements in moderation and basic quantities of  vitamins equivalent to a multivitamin will not do harm. However, we do know there can be damage done by high  quantities of even basic vitamins. And the side effects and drug  interactions for herbal supplements are forever long. Usually reports  about damage done by supplements come out years after they have been  ingested by thousands. Things like liver failure and death! It takes years of  research to establish safety and tease out possible interactions and  devastating side effects. And when I say research, I don't mean research  done on google!

 

Just take this as your  moderation warning. Know exactly what you are taking. Realize no one is  regulating what is put in it if it's not a prescription. Just because it says "natural" does not mean anything. Poisonous mushrooms are natural! Don't take mega doses of anything (like 1500% of your recommended daily amount [RDA]).  Thankfully, God has given us everything we need for good health in a  balanced diet of whole, unprocessed foods and exercise. Take baby steps! We don't have to spend tons of money to give our bodies what they need!

 

The information included on this site is for educational and special interest purposes only. It is not intended nor  implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his  or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own  situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading  the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.

 

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    Rachel Hovis, MD

    Internist and mother of 3 who believes that by taking small steps you can start and stay on the road to physical health.

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