We all have bad habits. There are things we enjoy that may not be good for us in terms of our social, emotional, or physical health. When it comes to our health, however, sometimes we don’t take those bad habits seriously, writing off the harm that they can do to us either because we’ve convinced ourselves the odds are low, or because there are other things we do that make up for it. However, there are some things that we do, or fail to do, that can have serious effects on our mortality.
17. Eating Meat
Many people enjoy meat, and it’s easy to understand why. The flavor and texture are appealing, as is the seasoning. However, too much meat, especially red meats, can be harmful. This is due in part to the fat and salt content, which can increase the risk of heart disease, as well as obesity, which generally exacerbates other health issues. When you add to that the fact that meat is frequently cooked in unhealthy ways, such as deep-fried or smoked, you increase the risk of carcinogens and additional fat and salt. None of that is good for your body in the long run.
16. Eating Sweets
Sweets are another thing many like to indulge in. While the occasional sweet treat every so often is fine, you’ll want to avoid having sweets with every meal, or having large amounts of sweets at any given time. Sugar, like fat and salt, can cause problems for the body at higher levels. While sugar does not cause diabetes directly, lots of sugary snacks can lead to obesity, and obesity greatly increases the odds of developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes and heart problems can exacerbate one another as well, so be sparing with dessert and try to avoid food and drinks with added sugar.
15. No Green Tea
Do you drink tea? Particularly green tea? Chances are you’ve heard a little about the benefits it provides. For example, while inconclusive, numerous studies have said that green tea can play a role in burning fat, though the truth to this may vary depending on the quality of the tea in question. Studies have also shown that green tea has also been said to protect the body against degenerative diseases, as well as some forms of cancer. Essentially, the compounds in green tea are thought to be effective in treating, preventing, or inhibiting a wide range of ailments.
14. Eating White Grains
While white bread and bleached flour are rather popular foods, they are also some of the more nutritionally deficient ones as well. They have been stripped of all their fiber-rich goodness, throwing away lots of nutritional potential. Even enriched varieties of these foods fail to restore the nutritional content that was lost. For the best results from your bread, try opting for whole grain varieties, which will include a healthy level of fiber, as well as B vitamins, which are good for fighting inflammation. This is important because inflammation, like obesity, can increase the risk of serious illnesses such as cancer.
13. No SleepRelated: 8 Foods to Help You Get to Sleep
Chances are you’re familiar with an all-nighter or two, or otherwise find reasons throughout the day to avoid getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Sometimes it’s a matter of insomnia. Either way, losing night after night of sleep will take a toll on your health, and “catching up” on your sleep will only do so much good. A full night’s sleep is necessary for deep, restorative sleep. In general, regular sleep is better for your memory, mood, and energy, which can help you be more successful during the day. If you’re having trouble getting enough sleep, try establishing regular bedtime habits to wind down before bed.
12. Too Much Stress
Stress kills. Literally. It’s not always in the form of a sudden aneurysm or heart attack; sometimes it’s a long process that goes unnoticed. This is because stress leads to increased levels of cortisol, a hormone that stores fat, and contributes to higher blood pressure. Lots of things can contribute to stress, such as a lack of sleep or nutritional imbalances. Fortunately, there are also a lot of ways to manage stress. Exercise, for example, can help, as it will directly affect your blood pressure levels and help you burn fat. It may also relieve your stress due to the release of endorphins.
11. Too Much Coffee
Do you just have to have your cup of joe in the morning? Well, you may want to start cutting back. This is especially true if you have multiple cups per day or late in the day. High levels of caffeine can make it difficult for you to get to sleep on time, which can contribute to a whole host of other problems, as mentioned in the point about sleep. If you need something to get you started in the morning, consider drinking green tea. It still has caffeine, though a lot less than coffee, and also provides other benefits.
10. No FishRelated: Why You Should Take Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements
While red meat, particularly the fat and salt-heavy kind, can be bad for you, fish is a much healthier alternative when it comes to protein. This is because of the type of fat found in fish differs from that in red meat. Called omega-3 fatty acids, or omega-3 for short, these helpful fats can play a role in lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol, which ultimately improves your heart health. Additionally, they are beneficial for the brain, too. Omega-3 fish oil is also available in capsule form, but if possible, you’re better off getting it (and all your nutrients) from the foods you eat, rather than supplements.
9. Too Much Alcohol
If coffee is consumed too much during the day, then it is alcohol which is consumed too much at night. In the moment, alcohol may help you feel more relaxed, and in moderation (two drinks a night for men, one drink a night for women) it is generally not harmful. Red wine has even been proven to be heart healthy at appropriate levels. However, excess drinking can cause more problems than bad decisions. It can lead to inflammation and obesity, for starters. It can also cause damage to the kidneys and liver. If you can’t give up alcohol, try to drink in moderation.
8. Eating Margarine
You might think that margarine is no worse, or even a healthier option than butter, but unfortunately, that is simply not the case. Margarine is a source of trans fats, something commonly found in processed foods. Trans fats can take up moisture from your body and contribute to buildup in your arteries, leading to weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart trouble. Less well known is that they may also contribute to inflammation. Believe it or not, you’re better off sticking to butter if you have to choose between the two.
7. Eating Fried FoodRelated: Top 20 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet
Fried food may taste delicious, but generally it takes an unhealthy meal and makes it even worse for you. Foods fried in oil pick up a whole bunch of additional salt and fat, which can lead to higher cholesterol and blood pressure. This increased risk of heart disease is compounded by the weight gain that often comes along with heavy consumption of fried foods. Additionally, there is a risk of carcinogens if the oil used to fry the food has already been well used. All in all, treat fried foods like alcohol or dessert: only in moderation, if at all.
6. Eating Processed Meat
Processed foods, like fried foods, are usually quite tasty. But also like fried foods, they can prove harmful to your health. Generally, processed meats have a lot of additives to keep them fresher longer. This can mean anything from salting to smoking, both of which can cause health problems. Specifically, processed foods may cause inflammation, and the saturated fat in them can wear down the heart. Whenever possible, opt for fresh meat that is nitrate free, and in general, cut down on all of your processed foods.
5. No Organic Food
At first glance, you may balk at the thought of laying down more money for organic food. The truth is, the value of organic vs nonorganic produce is hotly debated. One clear advantage of the former is that it tends to have less in the way of pesticides and herbicides (as well as chemicals given to crops to help them grow bigger faster). While they tend to be more expensive, eating organic means at the very least, you’re taking in fewer toxins over your lifetime, and you’re likely getting more of a nutritional benefit as well. Try subbing in some organic produce.
4. Eating Charred FoodRelated: Circumvent Cancer Cut Down On These Foods
If you’re one of those folks who likes to fire up the grill when the weekend rolls around, there’s some bad news. Much like fried and processed foods, charred foods can have some serious ill effects on your well-being. This is because charring meat leads to the formation of carcinogens, which can cause damage to your organs in the form of free radicals. Grilling itself isn’t a bad way to prepare your food, but make sure to clean the grill thoroughly before and after each use, and try not to char your food when you cook it.
Sitting may be super comfortable, but it is not something you want to do all the time. A sedentary lifestyle can greatly increase the chances of mortality, primarily due to the fact that it encourages obesity. The two largest contributors to staying healthy are diet and exercise, and if you’re spending a lot of time sitting, you’re probably not getting much exercise in. You might feel at a loss if your job involves a lot of sitting, but that doesn’t have to be the case. In addition to regular weekly exercise, even at work, make sure to stand up, stretch, and walk around every once in a while, and in general try to increase the amount of walking in your day.
1. No Exercise
If you’re one of those with the aforementioned sedentary lifestyle, motivating yourself to exercise can be tough. However, there are numerous benefits to exercise that just might get you moving. For starters, exercise can reduce your risk of mortality by preventing obesity, improving your respiratory health (cardio), and even helping your body become more resistant to infection. It doesn’t take an insane amount of exercise to stay fit and healthy. Shoot for 30 minutes of exercise each day (walking counts) to maintain health, with more time and strenuous activity if you’d like to lose weight.
1. Eating Microwavable FoodRelated: Don’t Reheat These Foods in the Microwave
Being nearly nonperishable and quite affordable, microwaved meals seem like a great alternative to fresh food, especially if the latter is organic. However, frozen foods typically contain substantial amounts of preservatives, added salt among them. Too much sodium in the diet leads to high blood pressure due to the way it hardens the arteries. You may also be picking up extra fat, sugar, and artificial ingredients while taking in fewer nutrients from these meals. Don’t make the TV dinners a habit; cook fresh as often as possible for maximum nutrition, and stay hydrated too.