If you’ve been looking or feeling a little off, your go-to healthy food might be to blame. Here are some potential red flags that you’ve gone a little overboard on a particular food, plus some tips for making cutting back on it easier.
It’s not just a bad fake tan that can leave your skin carrot-coloured. Eating your fair share of carrots may also leave you looking a little too much like your favourite vegetable. This is thanks to betacarotene, the red-orange plant pigment that gives carrots their colour can also turn your skin orange – particularly your nose, and the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, whites of your eyes (not to mention your teeth).
Keep in mind you’d have to be eating a lot of carrots (at least three a day) for this to happen. If you can’t go a day without snacking on carrot sticks but have noticed your skin starting to take on the colour of a sweet potato, see if cutting back on carrots makes a difference. On the contrary, a more modest daily dose of carrots (say one carrot a day opposed to three), can actually help give your skin a golden glow, thanks to a gentler dose of betacarotene, which also comes with anti-ageing benefits.
Put the cuppa tea down. While black tea is loaded with health-promoting compounds (like antioxidant-rich polyphenols and catechins, and calming L-theanine), it’s also high in tannins: natural compounds which, sigh, stain your teeth – something you’ve probably noticed if you’re a two, three, or four cups of tea a day kind of person. If you’re a coffee drinker, the good news is that coffee isn’t nearly as concentrated in tannins, and so it’s black tea (followed by green) that’s the teeth-staining culprit.
Pro-tip: if you can’t go a day without your Earl Grey or English Breakfast, it’s worth adding a dash of milk, as it’s casein content binds to the tannins, reducing their teeth-yellowing potential. Herbal tea is also tannin-free, and while most herbal brews don’t taste anything like black tea, it’s worth trying rooibos tea; both with or without milk, it’s the one herbal tea with a flavour profile that’s almost reminiscent of black tea (we said almost).
Preliminary research suggests that foods high in the amino acid arginine, particularly your beloved daily scoop of peanut butter, can trigger cold sores. The theory behind this is that cold sores rely on arginine to thrive, and so arginine-rich foods might not be doing you any favours if you’re cold-sore-prone. While the verdict on the link between arginine-rich foods and cold sores isn’t officially out, in the meantime, it might be worth swapping your peanut butter snack with edamame beans, as they’re rich in lysine, an amino acid which decreases arginine’s mechanisms.
Numbness in Your Hands and Feet
Take note if you’re a pescatarian: numbness in the extremities is just one potential sign of mercury poisoning, a sad result of consuming too much high-mercury fish – think Southern bluefin tuna, shark, ling, and swordfish (your larger, long-lived predatory fish).
If you love your canned tuna, you’ll be glad to know that it’s usually lower in mercury than fresh, as it’s caught prior to being one-year-old. In more good news: salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel and prawns are all low-mercury seafood options (check out all the awesome salmon dishes on our menu). For more info, Food Standards Australia New Zealand provide a helpful guide on safe fish consumption.
Take note: mercury toxicity affects the nervous system and is not to be taken lightly. If you think you might have mercury poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.
That, or a metallic taste in your mouth, might be a sign that you’ve been overdoing the fat in your diet, and underdoing the carbs. Unless you’ve been following a keto diet and your goal is to go into ketosis (where your body relies on fat rather than carbs for energy, creating ketones – chemicals with a nail polish-like odour – in the process), you might want to consider replacing some of the fat in your diet with quality starchy carbs; think sweet potato, brown rice and bananas.
Damaged Tooth Enamel
If you kickstart every day with a glass of water with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, we hate to break it to you, but your morning health tonic might be eroding your tooth enamel – the hard, outer layer of your pearly whites that helps protect them from decay. Both lemon juice and apple cider vinegar are super acidic, and so when they come into contact with your teeth, they weaken the enamel, resulting in yellower teeth with a dented appearance, and a greater likelihood of cavities.
Pro-tip: if you don’t want to give up your lemon water altogether, make a point of drinking it with a straw to help protect your tooth enamel, and rinse your mouth with water afterwards.
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