Everyday Habits That Damage Your Body, Say Experts
We all strive to be the best version of ourselves we can be, and that often includes habits like drinking enough water, eating right, or getting enough sleep. But what about the flipside? What aspects of our routines are actually causing more damage than we realize? The reality is we may each day be harming ourselves without even realizing it, and as soon as we change those habits, our bodies will feel better and healthier for it. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.
Eating Processed Meats
Hey, we get it. Sometimes those foods that are convenient and fast seem like our best options. But they really aren't, and can actually get us really sick. There have been studies that show that processed meats can increase the risk of colon cancer, and this is even true for young, healthy people. This is due, says Sarah Williams, MS, RD, a Registered Dietitian, owner and founder of Sweet Balance Nutrition, to what is inside. Williams says these foods often contain "components and chemicals … like nitrates and nitrites, that can cause damage to cells in the colon." This isn't just the pepperoni on your pizza or the bacon with your eggs, but also items like hot dogs or deli meats. "To lower your intake of processed meats, try choosing more fresh protein foods like chicken breast and fish, and eat more plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, hemp seeds, and tofu," said Williams. So, next time you are at the deli, maybe go for that grilled chicken breast instead?
Everyone always tells us to drink more water, but how many of us actually know what that looks like? It's likely that most of the population suffers from low-grade dehydration. "Many of us have conditioned ourselves to ignore our thirst and no longer sense it until it's too late," said Dr. Dana Cohen, M.D., integrative doctor and Essentia Water health and hydration advisor. We all have tons of distractions during the day, and it's easy to forget to drink water until we feel physical thirst. By then, we may already be dehydrated! "While not as easy to notice as extreme dehydration, not being properly hydrated can still cause serious problems such as headaches, migraines, fatigue, brain fog, chronic fatigue, weight gain, metabolic syndrome and even certain cancers have been linked to dehydration," said Dr. Cohen.
Stop skipping breakfast and eating late at night! Too much late-night eating sends you to bed with a too-full stomach. "You may be tired, but your digestive tract is running at full speed to process the big dinner you just downed," said Dr. Keith-Thomas Ayoob, Associate Clinical Professor Emeritus in the Department of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
This study also suggests that skipping breakfast and late-night eating are also associated with more obesity and poor blood glucose control.
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Sitting For Too Long
Sitting for too long "can cause gluteal amnesia, a tightness in the glutes that can come from just sitting too long.," said Dr. Ayoob. Think lots of working from home that turns into "living at work," too many Zoom calls, never leaving the screen, etc.
"To prevent it, get up and move at least every 30 minutes during the day and stretch your legs," said Dr. Ayoob. Working remotely now? Go for a walk twice a day for about 20-30 minutes — and leave the phone at home. Check with a certified personal trainer for more tips on stretching exercises to overcome gluteal amnesia if you think you have it.
Not Eating Enough Fruit and Vegetables
Avoiding fruits and vegetables is really spoiling your body. If you think you don't like fruits and vegetables, you haven't tried enough of them or prepared the right way. Getting enough of them — daily — is critical. Not doing so is truly spoiling your body because they're too rich in good benefits. It's the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (yes, that's a thing!).
"Avoiding them of not getting enough (about 2.5 to 3 cups daily, combined) and a good variety, means an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, constipation, colon cancer, buildup of bad bacteria in the gut, and lots more," said Dr. Ayoob. It's more than the vitamins, minerals, and fiber they contain. "They're loaded with anti-inflammatory compounds that fight disease and inflammation and there's just no substitute," said Dr. Ayoob. Get them into your diet every day. And try a few you haven't eaten in a while.
Sleeping Next to Your Phone
We all do this, and it's a terrible habit — both for our sleep and for our long term health. "This device emits blue light, which can suppress melatonin production, consequently interfering with your body's circadian rhythm," said Sarah Rocha, CEO of AgelessBloom. This can cause insomnia, sleep disorders, and lethargy. "The best way to deal with this is to cut down your screen-time at least 30 minutes before you sleep," said Rocha. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.