Beware of this trap.
Water, the life substance. We cannot live long without water. We need it to survive and we need it throughout our day to maintain proper body functions but in excess it can be harmful. In fact it can actually kill you. Have you ever heard of someone dying while competing in an endurance race? I’ve heard of it happening close to where I live. The person (I’m assuming not well trained to complete in such a race) consumed too much water thus diluting the sodium in their body causing hyponatremia. Basically water moves from your blood to your cells, causing the cells to expand, and causing swelling of the brain.
Too much exercising and not enough recovery time can be detrimental to our health too. I guess the title of my post is a bit click baity but it’s to emphasize a point I’ll be making soon.
I’m going to take a look at a supplement, specifically magnesium, and what being deficient in magnesium can mean to us and also what having too much magnesium can also do.
Magnesium like a lot of minerals plays an important role in our well being. It is involved in over 600 enzymatic reactions including energy metabolism and protein synthesis. It is also involved in muscle and nerve functions, energy production, and also plays a role in the transport of potassium and calcium ions. Basically it is an essential ion to the human body.
So what could you experience if you are not getting enough magnesium? Here’s a list of common symptoms of a magnesium deficiency:
- Migraine headaches
- Elevated PMS symptoms
- Insomnia and trouble sleeping
- Muscle weakness and cramps
Now lets look at the opposite, what happens if you get too much magnesium from supplementing:
- Muscle weakness
- Abdominal cramping
- Nausea and vomiting
If you noticed above I specifically stated from supplementing. This is because the body will naturally get rid of excess magnesium via the kidneys when consumed in the foods we eat.
Muscle weakness and cramping, these two things existing in both cases. How would you know the difference between too much or not enough? So what do we do? You are now thinking if you don’t supplement or if you do supplement you’ll still be in a bad place. You can’t win, right? But you can.
First, what I think is the most important thing you can do for your health is to adopt a whole foods plant based diet. Notice I’m not using the word vegan. There’s a reason for this. Following a vegan life style is just that, it’s a life style that goes beyond what you eat such as what you wear and buy. You can eat nothing but Oreo’s and still be vegan. Not a good choice though is it. A whole foods plant based diet is what is sounds like it is. Whole foods that are plants, not processed foods. Minimizing oils, salts, sugars. Sounds boring, right? But it’s not. Check out this book to see that there are a lot of exciting options when it comes to cooking with plants.
Without getting into it too deeply try to consume a variety of plants: onions, dark green leafy vegetables, potatoes, bright coloured peppers, whole grain unprocessed rice, seeds, nuts, avocados, tofu and so on. Prepare these foods not adding anything or if you like to add salt and oil but at a minimum. If you eat this way it is virtually impossible to eat too much and add unwanted fat to your body. Because these foods are whole foods, not processed, they are nutrient dense but caloric light unlike processed foods which are the inverse. Here’s what I mean; fat has 9 calories per gram where as protein and carbs have 4 calories. And because whole plant based foods are high in fiber you will feel full and satisfied without having to consume all those calories.
But what does this have to do with magnesium? By eating these foods you should be getting all the magnesium you need, naturally.
But if you aren’t sure and you think you might be deficient in magnesium visit your doctor for blood work and ask that magnesium be added to the tests. If the results come back that you are low in magnesium then talk to your doctor about options to address it.
I hope this helps make things clear. Supplementing should be our last option, our first option changing what we eat. Think of it as putting cheap fuel into your car and because of this your having to buy a higher grade of oil to combat engine wear. Why not just put better fuel into the car? The same goes for your body. And not having to supplement means not having to spend money on expensive pills.
Yours in health,