Too much of a good thing?

So you’ve thrown out the whites — refined wheat, sugar, rice — and loaded up on the good stuff. In fact, if a dietician raided your larder, she’d smile. Wait a minute though: could you be overdoing it a little?

“Healthy food consumed in excess, and if not utilised by the body for energy, will get stored as fat, and will eventually lead to weight gain and all its associated problems: fatty liver, heart disease and hypertension,” says Tripti Gupta, a dietician in Mumbai. In a line: Even the healthful produce may turn on you if you don’t stick to portion sizes. What is the right amount to consume then? Dieticians tell us.


Of course they’re a great snack, with different nuts having their own micronutrient power: almonds have vitamin E and magnesium; walnuts have manganese and copper. Doesn’t mean you do a 100g out of a bag. “An excess can lead to bloating, gas, and indigestion, due to the high fibre content,” says Gupta. Remember, nuts are calorie-dense, so just a few pack in more nutrition than, say, a cucumber. Also, the packaged variety often comes loaded with salt, or sugar, or both, and you don’t want these ‘hidden’ baddies derailing your healthful-eating plan.

High levels of phytic acid in nuts can bind to zinc and iron, and prevent their absorption by the body, according to a study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology. “An excess may even cause acne and dandruff due to their oily nature,” says Gupta. Again, oxalates, naturally-occurring compounds present in most nuts, can be troublesome for those with kidney stones, so check with your doctor about your intake.

Ideally eat 15-20g of plain nuts a day (a handful), preferably soaked, to reduce phytic acid.


They are rich in natural sugars and have fibre. Plus, they have vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that boost immunity and help in all our body functions. But, “Fruits lead to upping blood-sugar levels, so they’re ideally consumed in the morning, before or after a workout, or as a bridge between meals,” says Gupta. Too much fruit with no grain or vegetables can cause an insulin imbalance, she says.

“Pay attention to the glycaemic index, so you can make choices that minimise the impact of fruit on your blood sugar, aiming for those that are rich in fibre,” says Delhi-based nutritionist Preeti Seth. “High-fibre fruits tend to have a glycaemic index under 55, a value considered to be low. Include apples, citrus fruits such as grapefruit or oranges, peaches and berries such as strawberries and raspberries. Fruits with a relatively high index include ripe bananas, grapes, raisins and watermelon.”

Ideally eat up to three seasonal fruits per day.


Considered the panacea for those who have heart disease and diabetes, an excess may lead to indigestion, bloating, flatulence, and gastric disorders,” says Gupta.

Because it is filling, you may not accommodate other nourishing food groups, leading to a nutrient imbalance. “If you suddenly increase the amount, you may get an upset stomach, experience sluggishness and impaired concentration. Also, quick-cook oats are not healthy; steel-cut is the choice you should make.

Ideally eat 1-2 servings of oats in a day (1 serving is 30g each).


If you’re healthy, you don’t have to go into water-gulping overdrive. “This can flush out the nutrients present in blood. It can also lead to a loss of sodium, causing hyponatremia (low sodium levels) and can make you feel dizzy and disoriented. Electrolyte loss can cause intracellular imbalance. Water-soluble vitamin loss increases the load on the heart to pump more blood and leads to higher blood pressure,” Gupta warns.

Ideally drink no more than 3-3.5litres/day, depending on weight and climatic conditions.

Green Leafy Vegetables

Yes, they’re rich in everything from calcium, iron, fibre, magnesium, potassium, to vitamin A and various other antioxidants and are low in calories. But if you’re going to throw whole bunches into your green juice or smoothie, then know that the Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition says that “calcium is said to be unavailable due to the presence of oxalic acid, forming calcium oxalate. It may also contain appreciable amounts of nitrate and nitrite, which are injurious to human health.” The result: “Irregular bowel movement, flatulence and burping,” says Gupta.

Ideally eat 2 servings a day (100g per serving).


Milk is a source of protein in the diet and is also rich in calcium, potassium, and vitamin D, which helps maintain bone and teeth health. “Too much and it could upset bowel movements, result in weight gain, accumulation of calcium which can lead to stones and extra bone growth, hormonal imbalance and increased blood sugar levels,” says Gupta. Unsure if you’re intolerant? If you feel bloated after you drink it, check with a dietician.

Ideally drink two cups a day (200ml each).

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 12:37:07 PM |

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