“Health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.”
This famous quote by Josh Billings sheds light on the importance of health.
Looking after one’s health is of prime importance. But sadly, most of us get busy in our personal and professional lives and tend to ignore our health.
Remember that health is a relationship between you and your body, and whatever you do in your daily routine has an impact –positive or negative – on your health.
By eliminating or changing some common unhealthy habits, you can keep your body healthy, both physically and mentally.
Here are the 10 things that you don’t know you’re doing to ruin your health.
1. Not Enjoying Enough Sleep
If your busy schedule is affecting how much sleep you get each night, take steps to change your schedule so that you can enjoy the much-needed sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should sleep at least 7 to 8 hours every night. Children and teenagers need more sleep, ranging from 9 to 11 hours.
Poor sleep is associated with poor immunity as well as many other health problems. Regular sleep deprivation increases the risk of infection and other serious health conditions, such as heart disease, strokes, hypertension, diabetes and obesity.
Your sleep duration also has a direct impact on your lifespan. A 2007 study published in the Sleep journal showed that both a decrease and an increase in sleep duration are associated with increased mortality rates.
Along with sleep, the National Sleep Foundation recommends a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes for improved alertness and performance.
A short nap during the daytime can even reduce the risk of heart disease, according to a 2007 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
However, taking a nap during the daytime does not mean that you can ignore your bedtime at night. Being an adult, you must get 7 to 8 hours of sound sleep daily.
2. Surviving on Fast Food
If you do not have time to cook, running out for fast food seems the best solution.
But fast food contributes little or no nutrient value to your diet. Instead, these foods are packed with excess calories, fat, sugar and salt content, which are not good for your health.
This type of unhealthy eating contributes to several health problems. Obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes, high cholesterol, dementia and many types of cancer are closely related to an unhealthy diet.
Moreover, surviving on fast foods can cause nutritional deficiencies in the body.
To improve your health, take time out to cook your own food. Include organic fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich foods, whole-grain products, low-fat dairy items and healthy fats in your cooking. Also, limit your salt and sugar intake.
Whole-grain sandwiches, oatmeal, smoothies, soups and salads are some of the easy things that you can prepare at home and pack for lunch.
3. Quenching Your Thirst with Sodas instead of Water
Many of us often reach out for a can of soda instead of plain water to quench our thirst without realizing how harmful it is.
The sugary soda drinks increase your risk of excess weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Diet sodas, too, are not as healthy as they are promoted to be. Instead of controlling weight gain, they stimulate your appetite and sugar cravings.
Some sodas even contain caffeine which contributes to dehydration. So, quenching your thirst with such drinks is not a good idea.
When feeling thirsty, only opt for plain water and nothing else. It is the best drink to quench your thirst. Plus, it is calorie-free.
Many times, people don’t even realize that they are not drinking enough water.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, a healthy adult must drink at least 10 to 12 glasses of fluid daily to keep the kidneys healthy and the body well hydrated.
Carry your own water bottle to work and set reminders so that you finish it by the end of the day. If you do not enjoy plain water, try flavored water. Also, fruits and vegetables rich in water content can help a lot in keeping your body hydrated.
4. Using Mobiles for Long Hours
Excessive use of cell phones and headphones is becoming a global habit. This habit has significant negative effects on your health.
A 2011 study published in BMC Public Health reports that stress, symptoms of depression and sleep disorders were associated with high mobile phone usage in young adults (20 to 24 years old) over the course of 1 year.
Not just mobiles, even eReaders are not good for your health. According to a 2015 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing and alertness the following morning.
5. Painkiller Abuse
Relying on over-the-counter painkillers every now and then to ease common aches and pains may not seem to be a serious problem but it has many side effects.
Although they help ease the pain temporarily, these painkillers come with several side effects. They can cause gastrointestinal distress; impair kidney, liver or heart function; and impair the blood’s ability to clot.
Moreover, narcotic pain medications can also cause drowsiness and constipation. You also tend to develop dependence on narcotic medications when you take them for extended periods.
Instead of popping a pill to kill the pain, explore some natural remedies and alternative pain management techniques such as acupressure, yoga or meditation.
If the pain persists, make sure to consult your doctor to find out the exact cause and course of treatment instead of simply suppressing the problem with temporary fixes.
6. Ignoring Nature’s Call
When you are engrossed in work, doing something very important, driving or traveling, you may tend to delay the call of nature.
But if you ignore the urge to use the restroom, you are putting a strain on your bladder and kidneys. Retaining urine for long periods of time and on a regular basis increases urine pressure and can lead to kidney failure, kidney stones and incontinence.
When urine remains in the bladder for a long time, it causes the bacteria in the urine to multiply, which can lead to urinary tract infections or kidney infections.
Similarly, putting off the urge to pass stools is also a bad habit. When the stool remains in the body for longer, the colon absorbs the fluid from it back in the body, thus leading to constipation and hard stools.
Always listen to your body when nature calls and empty your bladder as soon as possible. Try to empty your bladder completely whenever you urinate.
7. Sitting for Prolonged Hours
Regardless of whether you are sitting in front of your computer or television screen, prolonged sitting is not good for your health.
Sitting for long periods of time without taking any breaks can lead to a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels).
A 2011 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reports that recreational sitting, as reflected by television/screen viewing time, increases the risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease regardless of physical activity participation.
It is even bad for your posture as well as your spine and joints.
To counteract the negative impacts of sitting for long hours, take frequent breaks. Take a break of 10 minutes for every 1 hour of sitting.
The solution seems to be less sitting and more moving overall. You might start by simply standing rather than sitting whenever you have the chance or think about ways to walk while you work.
8. Always Taking the Elevator
If you only consider climbing the stairs when the elevator is not working, then you need to think twice.
The health benefits of taking the stairs and skipping the elevator are many. It is a free workout for those who do not have time to exercise or go to a gym.
Climbing the stairs is good for your heart. It can lower your bad cholesterol levels and raise your good cholesterol level. It can reduce tension, fight stress, maintain weight and strengthen your joints.
A 2008 study by University of Missouri-Columbia researchers supports the claim of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that a reduction in daily physical activity is an actual cause of many of the risk factors for chronic diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Along with taking the stairs, go for a walk or run for 20 to 30 minutes daily, enjoy aerobic exercises a few times a week and opt for swimming, bicycling, trekking or other sports on the weekends.
9. Completely Avoiding Sunlight
With growing awareness of the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) sunrays on the skin, some people completely avoid sunlight.
While avoiding harsh sunrays during the peak hours of the day is fine, completely avoiding sunlight is not a good idea.
Sunlight is necessary for the body to produce vitamin D. A deficiency of vitamin D can lead to many health complications.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine reports that vitamin D is important for modulation of the innate and adaptive immune responses. Its deficiency is linked to increased risk of infection and many autoimmune diseases.
Another 2011 study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention highlights that normal sun exposure helps reduce the risk of both cardiovascular disease and death.
To help your body produce enough vitamin D, enjoy early morning sunlight (without sunscreen) for 10 to 15 minutes daily.
10. Negative Thinking and Stress
Negative thinking and stress can have a negative impact on your physical as well as psychological health. In fact, negative emotions have been found to give rise to negative physical outcomes.
Chronic stress, in particular, is detrimental to health. According to a 2012 study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, chronic psychological stress affects the body’s ability to regulate inflammation and promotes the development and progression of disease.
Positive thinking, on the other hand, promotes better psychological and physical well-being. Positivity can also increase your life span, according to a 2000 study conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
Practice positive thinking every day. Also, try relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation to help induce relaxation and manage stress.