Wellness culture has become unhinged in recent years pushing healthy habits to the extreme and making people sick.
If some healthy food is good, more must be better, right? In the context of the following three areas, too much of a good thing can actually be very bad for your health.
1. Nutrient Excess
The primary nutrients causing problems by way of excess are vitamin A, copper and iron. Often a client has an issue with more than one of these.
- Vitamin A excess — Getting too much vitamin A from overdoing rich foods like dairy products, butter, and eggs for decades along with taking multivitamins, Rx drugs like Accutane or Tretinoin and consuming liver regularly can push your levels to the limit.
The Livertox database which covers clinical and research information on drug-induced liver injury confirms the toxicity: "Vitamin A in high doses is a direct toxin. Excess vitamin A is stored in stellate cells in the liver and accumulation can lead to their activation and hypertrophy, excess collagen production, fibrosis and liver injury. The toxicity is dose related and can be reproduced in animal models." 
With my one-on-one consultation clients we take advantage of blood lab testing (you can live anywhere in the US other than a few states) to check in on Vitamin A levels.
Read more about vitamin A toxicity.
- Copper overload — Wellness culture tends to encourage high copper foods such as dark chocolate, nuts/seeds, avocado, shellfish, liver, and multivitamins. This can easily tip the copper scales in the wrong direction, particularly for your liver and mental health.
Copper overload can manifest for a variety of reasons, one strong influence being the antagonistic relationship between copper and zinc. When zinc is depleted by stress, dietary insufficiency or malabsorption, copper can increase.
Read more all about copper overload.
- Iron overload — While you've probably heard of anemia or low iron levels, talk about milder forms of iron overload is not nearly as common. Excess iron acts as a rusting agent in your body and can accumulate in tissues, particularly in the liver, pancreas, heart, joints and the brain. This speeds up the aging process and puts you at a much higher risk for vascular disease, cancer, and a shortened life expectancy.
Iron overload is also linked to liver disease, cardiovascular disease, gout, infertility, hypothyroidism, and a very long list of others, making it essential for you to know your iron status. 
This way you can be better informed to make decisions about taking iron-containing supplements.
Read more about iron overload.
2. Plant Toxin Overload
Most plants contain various plant toxins, but some have ones that are more problematic when consumed in excess.
A big part of the problem with these foods comes from eating them out of season. You see, certain plants contain plant toxins that create more work for your immune and detoxification systems. While your body can handle gentle exposure for several weeks while a plant like a tomato is in season, eating them regularly starts to put more stress on your system over time (constantly giving your liver more work to do).
The foods that really get people here are over-consuming high oxalate foods and nightshade veggies.
- Nightshade veggies:
Nightshades are a member of Solanaceae family of plants with strong ties to inflammatory action. They contain problematic plant toxins, compounds like calcitriol, solanine, nicotine and capsaicin that have been linked to chronic pain, arthritis  and an increase in intestinal permeability .
The nightshade family includes hot peppers, tomatoes, ashwagandha (popular for adrenal support), bell peppers (a.k.a. sweet peppers), cape gooseberry, eggplant, goji berries (also called wolfberry), paprika, potatoes (including potato starch found in many gluten-free foods), and tobacco.
Because nightshades play such a pivotal role in the standard American diet foods like pizza, pasta, salsa, and Mexican food, it can be very difficult to identify an issue if you're eating these foods regularly.
Read more about nightshades and inflammation.
- High oxalate foods:
Oxalates (or oxalic acid) are a natural compound found in plants foods but can also be synthesized by the body (via the glyoxylate pathway). They are commonly linked to chronic pain and kidney stones.
High oxalate foods that are commonly over-consumed in wellness culture include:
- Cacao (dark chocolate)
While oxalate testing is available (OAT test), perhaps the best way to see if these plant toxins impact you is to eat less of them and more foods that are low in plant toxins and see if you feel better.
With over 90,000 dietary and vitamin supplements on the market, how can you possibly get lucky enough to choose one that fits you? It's a dying statistical game that you play every time you go to the supplement store. In the end, it just costs you a boatload of money along with adverse symptoms you may have to those very expensive supplements.
If every single day, 365 days a year (maybe even multiple times a day) you're taking supplements that don't work with your body chemistry and instead just give your liver more work to do that has a huge impact on your health. From influencing your digestion to overburdening your liver, and maybe even giving you nutrients that you don't actually need because you have a surplus of them already (back to #1 nutrient excess), supplements are often the problem and not the solution.
Some vitamins have a negative impact other nutrient levels in your body, because nutrients work together (hint: vitamin D is a big one here).
According to a 2013 article in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the debate about supplements should be over:
"In conclusion, β-carotene, vitamin E, and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements are harmful. Other antioxidants, folic acid and B vitamins, and multivitamin and mineral supplements are ineffective for preventing mortality or morbidity due to major chronic diseases. Although available evidence does not rule out small benefits or harms or large benefits or harms in a small subgroup of the population, we believe that the case is closed— supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful. These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough." 
A 2007 study in JAMA had similar findings:
"Treatment with beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E may increase mortality. The potential roles of vitamin C and selenium on mortality need further study." 
Remember, less supplementation = more. Find out what your body needs, and then spend the extra supplement money you're saving on your groceries instead (not the profit margin of some supplement company).
If you gleaned anything valuable from this article, it should be to pay attention and listen to your body, not wellness culture. Overdoing these specific foods and nutrients adds stress to your body and increases the workload of your liver, which can have big consequences for your energy levels, mood, digestion and weight.
Nutrient blood labs for (copper, zinc, vitamin A and iron) are available to my clients in the US (except NY, NJ and RI), while hair tissue mineral analysis is available to clients worldwide. You can add on these tests to any consultation or package to check in on your own body and discover what is standing in the way of you and optimal health.
Is wellness culture working for you? Please share in the comments!
- Jensen-Jarolim E et al. “Hot spices influence permeability of human intestinal epithelial monolayers.” J Nutr. 1998 Mar;128(3):577-81.
- Childers N.F., and Margoles M.S. “An Apparent Relation of Nightshades (Solanaceae) to Arthritis” Journal of Neurological and Orthopedic Medical Surgery (1993) 12:227-231