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Ways You're "Destroying Your Body" Needlessly and How to Fix It

Learn five ways you're hurting your body from experts. 
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Think about everything your body allows you to do. You can walk, breathe, eat and heal yourself when you get a cut, broken bone and more. Your body keeps you alive and healthy, but poor habits and lifestyle choices can do significant damage and take a toll on your body. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with  Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies who shares the top ways you're destroying your body. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Our Bodies are Amazing, but Won't Last Long with Bad Health Choices

Overjoyed excited girl with perfect athletic body in tight sportswear doing yoga handstand pose against wall and laughing, shouting from happiness. Gymnastics for body balance outdoor workouts


Dr. Mitchell says, "The human body is a fantastic thing. It is with us from the moment we are born until we die. It can heal itself, fight off disease, and remember the things that have happened to it- both good and poor choices. One of the most incredible things about our bodies is their capacity for self-healing. When we cut ourselves, our bodies immediately start working to repair the damage. Our immune systems are constantly on alert, fighting off infection and illness. And when we do become sick, our bodies work hard to recover. Another fantastic thing about our bodies is their memory. Our bodies remember the things that have happened to them- both the good and the bad. This is why it is so essential to make good choices when it comes to our health. If we make poor choices, our bodies will remember those, too, and they will be more likely to make us sick in the future. But if we make good choices, our bodies will remember that too, and they will be more likely to stay healthy and strong.  Our bodies are truly incredible machines. They are with us through everything- the good and bad times. They have the astonishing ability to heal themselves and to remember the things that have happened to them. So we need to take care of our bodies and treat them with respect if we want them to continue caring for us for years to come. You might not realize it, but there are several ways that you could be inadvertently destroying your body. Here are five of the most common."

2

Sitting for Long Periods of Time

young woman sitting at desk with back pain
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Dr. Mitchell tells us, "Sitting for long periods can have several negative effects on your body. For one, it can lead to poor posture and muscle imbalances. When you sit, your hips are flexed, and your spine is curved. This can cause the muscles in your back and hips to become tight while the muscles in your front side become weak. Additionally, sitting for long periods can lead to circulation problems and an increased risk of blood clots. When you sit, your leg muscles are not used very much, which can cause the blood flow in your legs to slow down. This can make it more difficult for your body to pump blood back up to your heart, leading to circulation problems. Sitting for long periods can also increase your risk of blood clots. Blood clots are more likely to form when you are not moving around very much, as they are more likely to start when the blood flow is slower. While blood clots can occur in any part of your body, they are most likely to form in your legs when you sit for long periods."

3

Too Much Stress

frustrated and stressed businessman sitting at the office front a computer and holding head
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Dr. Mitchell explains, "When the body experiences stress, it goes into "fight or flight" mode. This natural survival mechanism allows us to respond quickly to dangerous situations. However, when we're constantly exposed to stressors – such as work deadlines, financial worries, and relationship problems – the body remains in this heightened state of alertness. Over time, this can lead to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Chronic stress can also cause or exacerbate mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. So it's essential to find ways to manage stress in our lives to stay physically and mentally healthy."

4

Not Getting Enough Sleep

Woman sitting on bed and holding head in her hands.
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Dr. Mitchell emphasizes, "Sleep is essential for good health and well-being. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental, physical, quality of life and safety. The opposite is true; not getting enough sleep can damage your body. For example, not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain. When you're sleep-deprived, your body makes more of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, and less of the hormone leptin, which tells you when you're full. This increases your chances of overeating and gaining weight. Sleep deprivation can also lead to insulin resistance, making it more difficult to control blood sugar levels and leading to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. In addition to weight gain, not getting enough sleep can also lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. Not getting enough sleep can also negatively affect your mood and mental health. Sleep deprivation can cause irritability, anxiety, and depression. It can also impair your ability to concentrate and make decisions. For example, if you're not getting enough sleep, you're also more likely to have impaired memory and decreased cognitive function. In severe cases, sleep deprivation can even lead to hallucinations.  Getting enough quality sleep is essential for good health and well-being. Not getting enough sleep can damage your body, including weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, anxiety, depression, and impaired memory. If you think you might not get enough sleep, talk to your doctor about ways to improve your sleep habits."

5

Smoking Cigarettes

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Dr. Mitchell reminds us, "Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States, and it takes a heavy toll on the smoker's body. Cigarette chemicals damage nearly every organ in the body, and smokers are at increased risk for various serious illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung disease. Unfortunately, smokers often suffer from many other problems, including bad breath, yellow teeth, and wrinkles, even if they don't develop a severe infection. In short, smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your health. Quitting is the best thing you can do for your body if you smoke. Many resources are available to help you leave, and it's never too late to start reaping the benefits of a smoke-free life."

6

Eating Processed Foods

processed foods
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Dr. Mitchell explains, "Processed foods have been altered from their natural state in some way, typically to extend their shelf life or make them more convenient to eat. While some processed foods can be part of a healthy diet, many are high in sodium, sugar, and unhealthy fats and can lead to weight gain, heart disease, and other health problems. When you eat processed foods, your body has to work harder to break them down and absorb the nutrients. This can lead to blood sugar spikes, energy level fluctuations, indigestion, and other digestive issues. Processed foods are also often high in salt, which can cause high blood pressure, fluid retention, and other health problems. In addition, many processed foods contain Trans fats, linked to an increased risk of heart disease and other chronic health conditions. Eating a diet high in processed foods can significantly impact your health. To maintain a healthy weight and avoid chronic health problems, you must limit your intake of processed foods and focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods."

 

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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