4 Healthy Eating Habits (That Are Killing People)

Let's start right here by saying that no one at Cracked is a doctor or qualified to give out professional health advice. In fact, I'm required to tell people I'm not a doctor when I first meet them, ever since that incident in 2011 with the unauthorized appendix surgery on the cruise ship.

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I'm just impressed that I was able to do it using only one of those tiny drink umbrellas.

And most of us, myself included, could stand to cram some more healthy food into our diets, instead of surviving on old bacon fat we scraped out of the bottom of the microwave. That said, not all healthy-living habits go well for everyone who tries them. Because of the eternal tendency of humans to take good things and overdo them until they're awful, we're now learning that ...

#4. Cutting Too Much Salt Out of Your Diet Can Mess Up Your Health

Americans, you might have heard, eat way too much salt. The average person's daily salt intake in this country is 3.4 grams, which is well above the 1.5 grams recommended for most Americans by the American Heart Association.

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They tried tipping over America's salt shakers and writing "bad" there, but everyone just licked up the salt so it didn't go well.

And that sucks, because consuming too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which is in turn linked to heart disease, the leading cause of Grim Reaper visits in the United States. So there's no problem with trying to avoid as much salt as possible, is there, asks the poor man still posing a rhetorical question in a Cracked article and expecting a positive answer. Well, is there?

The Dark Side

A recent study that monitored the salt intake and ongoing health of 100,000 people discovered that those who were least likely to die from heart disease or stroke had a sodium intake of between 3 and 6 grams per day. Another 2011 study of patients with high blood pressure found that their risk of stroke and heart attacks increased when they consumed over 7 grams per day, butit also increased when the subjects consumed under 3 grams. In other words, the American Heart Association's 1.5-gram figure seems to put most people firmly within the salt danger zone, not out of it.

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I imagine the salt danger zone looks like this.

That's not too surprising, because according to a doctor who led an Institute of Medicine committee on salt consumption, 1.5 grams is the smallest amount of salt a human can consume while still getting the nutrients they need to survive.

So why is the AHA recommending starvation-level salt figures? It seems pretty harsh until you figure out what's really going on here. Much like a teacher who desperately sets 10 chapters of textbook reading every night in the hope that his lazy students will panic and at least skim a few pages, the AHA, knowing that Americans love salt, is presumably throwing out a low figure with the assumption that most people will ignore it anyway. And for the most part, they've been right: despite the AHA's decades of continued warnings, American salt consumption hasn't changed in 50 years.

But those poor, authority-trusting schmucks who actually did do all that reading in high school and are now genuinely trying their hardest to keep their salt at the 1.5-gram level? They might be hurting themselves more than if they'd just eaten those damn French fries.

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Just lick the damn ground already, nerd.

#3. Taking Too Many Vitamins Can Make You Dead

If you're like many Americans, you start the day by eating a multivitamin or two alongside your morning coffee and waffle taco. People in this country spend about $28 billion a year on vitamin supplements, which is about 28 times more than we spend on porn, so don't let anyone tell you that the world is going to hell. And while reviews are mixed about how much good multivitamins do for people without specific vitamin-requiring health issues, the standard wisdom is that dosing yourself with vitamins definitely won't do any harm. Well, except when it does.

The Dark Side

First, let's look at the difference between fat- and water-soluble vitamins and nutrients. Water-soluble nutrients like Vitamin C, B12, and folic acid usually need to be consumed daily, because your body will mostly just pee out the excess. Fat-soluble stuff like Vitamins A, E, and K, on the other hand, is absorbed into your body fat and then sticks around, like that old LiveJournal full of Firefly fan fiction that you forgot the password to back in 2007. If you consume too many fat-soluble vitamins, they can build up in your body like the torrid sexual tension in a Mal/Jayne fanfic, leading to vitamin toxicity.

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If you recover from Vitamin Toxicity, at least you'll have a good band name.

Of course, most people will not end up overdosed and twitching on their kitchen floor among a spilled pile of Flintstone gummies. Most of the time, the risks are more subtle. For example, men taking more than the recommended dose of Vitamin E have a higher risk of getting prostate cancer, while supplementation with beta carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A, has been linked to increased lung cancer in smokers. It's one reason many doctors recommend that unless you've got a specific medical reason to take vitamin or mineral supplements, you try to get your nutrients from food instead, or that you just curl up on your living room floor and give up because everything's going to kill you anyway.

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C. Coville

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