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Avoiding certain foods or limiting consumption of certain foods assists dancers in keeping a healthy lifestyle (Minden, 2005; Nutrition for Dancers, 2008). If a dancer, in particular, consumes foods that are not healthy, they will have less energy and strength to last in daily ballet training (Cleveland Clinic, 2006; DiNubile, n.d.; Kinetz, 2005;). Below are some of the side effects of consuming or over consuming certain ingredients and foods (Kinetz, 2005; Minden, 2005).

Avoiding these foods or ingredients in foods are beneficial for not only dancers, but everyone that wants to keep a healthy lifestyle.

Caffeine

Caffeine, known as a stimulant, also has addictive qualities. Caffeine has been known to raise blood pressure and narrow blood vessels. Short-term affects include nervousness, jitters, trouble sleeping and rise of adrenaline, which can raise blood pressure (Colcy, 2005; Hall-Flavin, 2007; Mayo Clinic Staff, 2009, March 24; Vogin, 2002). Long-term affects include loss of calcium, which can lead to osteoporosis. Caffeine excretes the amount of calcium out of your body, depleting your body of it. Other long-term affects include high blood pressure and dependence or addiction, insomnia, excitement, restlessness, irritability, tension, irregular heartbeat, increased risk of depression, excessive urination, gastrointestinal disturbance, muscle twitching, flushed skin, incoherent speech and panic and anxiety disorders (Colcy, 2005; Kovacs, 2007; Mayo Clinic Staff, 2009, March 24; Rose, 2009; Vogin, 2002). Pregnant women are particularly at risk because the caffeine stays in their and the baby’s system longer, causing lower birth weight. Over consumption of caffeine and a baby’s lower birth weight can lead to other problems such as preterm labors, and increased rate of miscarriage (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2009, May 30; What’s the Real Scoop on Caffeine During Pregnancy, 2008).

Sugar

High sugar content has many bad side effects. Sugar depresses the immune system, increases triglycerides (form of fat in the bloodstream), contributes to hyperactivity, depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness, raises LDL (bad) cholesterol, lowers HDL (good) cholesterol, can cause hypoglycemia, contribution to inactivity and drowsiness in children, kidney damage, promotes tooth decay, speeds the aging process and contributes to weight gain among many other side effects (Mueller, n.d.; Skae, 2008; Wedro, 2008). Consume sugar in small to normal amounts, but stay away from over consumption. Choosing to consume natural sugar in normal amounts, however, is still a healthier choice than substituting it for artificial sweeteners (Harrar, 2006; Wedro, 2008).

 
High-Fat

Consuming large amounts of fat in the diet contribute to weight gain, heart disease, kidney failure, all types of cancer, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, poor sleep, obesity and a weakened immune system (Diabetes-Obesity-Key Info, 2006; Hitti, 2009; Kaneshiro, 2008; Mayo Clinic Staff, 2008, Sept.; Mayo Clinic Staff, 2009, June 13; Mayo Clinic Staff, 2009, May; McVeigh, 2006; Wilbert, 2008). A high-fat diet increases the risk of not being able to fight off any disease or infection as well as you need to. High-fat diets should be avoided altogether (Hitti, 2009; Mayo Clinic Staff, 2009, May).

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners may give the allusion that you can consume fewer calories. But consuming artificial sweeteners can do damage to your body. Consuming artificial sweeteners contributes to the body losing its natural ability to regulate food intake and body weight. When eating natural sweeteners, the body is able to naturally determine the calorie intake by sweetness. When that ability is taken away, you are more likely to gain weight or become obese. This is because your body starts thinking that it can no longer count calories based on sweetness. Therefore, when you consistently consume artificial sweeteners and then also consume natural sweeteners, your body will not give the signal that there has been enough food intake (Purdue University, 2004; Weil, 2007).

The most common artificial sweetener, aspartame, is also known to cause damage to the brain with a pro-longed consumption as well as to your body. This is because aspartame is a mixture of three ingredients that are both toxic and harmful to the body. These ingredients are methanol (wood alcohol), phenylalanine and aspartic acid. With this combination of toxic ingredients, side effects of pro-longed consumption of aspartame include disruption in the neurological transmitters in the brain, lowering the levels of serotonin, which causes disruption of sleep, mood, appetite and behavior. It also disrupts your amino acid metabolism, metabolism, protein structure, nerve functions and hormonal equilibrium (Bowen & Evangelista, 2002; Nutrition Research Newsletter, 2004). Overdosing or overconsumption with aspartame also lowers glucose levels, disrupts absorption of calcium and causes headaches/migraines, insomnia, depression, seizures, muscle spasms, joint pain and attention deficit disorder. Other serious symptoms and side effects include mimicking, development and worsening of Multiple Sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, worsening and possible development of Parkinson’s disease, mimicking of fetal alcohol syndrome in pregnant women, fibromyalgia and other possible neurological disorders (Bowen & Evangelista, 2002; Gurd, 2007; Nutrition Research Newsletter, 2004). Overall, artificial sweeteners should be avoided completely because it is actually considered a slow working poison (Bowen & Evangelista, 2002; Nutrition Research Newsletter, 2004). For those who have diabetes or similar health problems and must use artificial sweeteners, the amount used should be limited and the use of aspartame should be avoided altogether (Bowen & Evangelista, 2002; Gurd, 2007; Nutrition Research Newsletter, 2004; Weil, 2007).

Soda

Consuming soda can shorten your life. Soda or any type of flavored and carbonated drink classified as soda or cola is damaging to your health because not only does it contain no nutritional value, it is highly acidic (Bembry, n.d.; Garnett, n.d.). Diet sodas, in particular, are highly acidic and also have a reverse affect, causing you to gain weight. Diet sodas cause a change in your blood chemistry, slowing down your metabolism and with the intake of artificial sweeteners, contributes to the loss of your body’s natural ability to count calories (Bowen & Evangelista, 2002; DeNoon, 2005; Purdue University, 2004; Weil, 2007; Zeratsky, 2007).

 

Sodas, in general, contribute to weight gain and obesity because of its high sugar content and lack of nutrients (Diamond, 2009; Stein, 2004; Waugh, 2008). Soda causes tooth decay, gum loss, poor bone health and less calcium intake due to the drinking of less milk combined with over consumption of caffeine. Soda also makes you have too much phosphorus in your system, causing reduction in calcium and magnesium (Bembry, n.d.; Mayo Clinic Staff, 2007, Dec.; Shaw, 2007; Waugh, 2008). Magnesium regulates your heart rate and keeps your nerves and muscles functioning normally. Too much phosphorus also causes diarrhea and contributes to copper deficiency, resulting in health problems such as diabetes, heart attacks, anemia, infertility, chronic mineral loss, soft bones, heart arrhythmia, high cholesterol and connective tissue defects (Bembry, n.d.; Garnett, n.d.; Waugh, 2008).

Regular soda also contains high fructose corn syrup, which interferes with the minerals important for healthy heart function and can cause elevated blood cholesterol (Childs, 2007; Doheny, 2007; Garnett, n.d.; Stein, 2004). Regular soda also contributes to blood clots, which in turn, increase risks of heart disease, diabetes and possibly, cancer, with risks of cancer being associated with an average soda drinkers unhealthy diet (Bembry, n.d.; Childs, 2007; Cohen, 2004; Deschamps & Nelson, 2006; Doheny, 2007; Garnett, n.d.; Parks, 2006; Stein, 2004).

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