Stopping Bad Habits

7 habits that must be banished to improved health

The prevailing pace of life in today’s society leads some people to adopt unhealthy lifestyles. Harmful habits, if maintained over time, can have consequences on future improved health and quality of life. Not getting enough sleep, following an unbalanced diet, or an inactive lifestyle, among others, are associated with the development of certain diseases. Below is a list of the seven most common harmful habits that should be banished to take care of one’s health.

Healthy lifestyle habits have a direct impact on people’s health and their quality of life, as professionals in this field have been claiming for years. Whether they are related to diet, physical exercise, or the consumption of toxic substances, it has been shown that these customs are key in the development of non-communicable chronic pathologies such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, or cancer. Below are some of the most common habits that can be harmful to health.

improved health

1. Living stressed

Stress is a normal physiological phenomenon, the response that an organism emits to stimuli perceived as threatening. It is not a harmful aspect, but an adaptive response that prepares and helps to withstand demanding situations and to react quickly to any demand from the environment. But if it lasts over time, excessive activation and anxiety occur, causing an inability to focus effectively on tasks.

Excess stress and worries can have serious repercussions in the mental and physical sphere: insomnia, anxiety, nervousness, tachycardia, palpitations, digestive disorders, muscle spasms, headache, skin disorders, anger, a bad mood, and even depression.

2. Consuming fast food, snacks, and too much sugar

Fast food, snacks, processed foods, and sweets, among others, are part of the regular diet of many people. However, the excess fat, sugar, and calories it provides have well-known detrimental effects.

Excess stress and worries can have serious repercussions in the mental and physical sphere.

The World Health Organization (WHO) associates excess sugar as the cause of the growing incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes worldwide, as well as dental caries, hypertension, and even some cases of cancer.

On the other hand, the excess of trans fats is directly related to the risk of cardiovascular diseases, even more so if the intake of saturated fats is also high. Its continued consumption increases the level of LDL cholesterol and decreases HDL (good).

Also, too large portions or excess calories in this type of product, together with reduced energy expenditure due to a sedentary life, affect body weight.

3. Lead a sedentary life

After smoking, the second most important risk factor for health is a sedentary lifestyle, one of the main causes of morbidity and mortality. Leading an inactive life causes the musculoskeletal system to weaken and increases the probability of future arthritis, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis, as well as obesity and cardiovascular diseases.

Sitting for a long time (about six hours), whether for leisure or work, has been shown to reduce life expectancy by five years and double the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, and/or cardiovascular disease, compared to those who spend fewer hours sitting down. These people watch more television, practice less physical exercise, and tend to eat more food of poorer quality.

Thus, including the practice of physical exercise on a regular basis (at least 30 minutes a day) is of vital importance, especially in childhood. A recent study published in Neurobiology of Aging points out that, in addition to keeping the aforementioned pathologies at bay, it can change the structure and function of the brain, which helps keep it healthy.

4. Sleep little and bad

During sleep, the body and mind regenerate: consciousness is suspended -totally or partially- and organic functions decrease. When this process is continuously disrupted, it causes alterations in the ability to concentrate, in memory, and in the state of mind: one is more distracted, more irascible, and with a diminished attention span, among other effects.

But a poor-quality night’s rest has more effects. On a physical level, it also causes changes in body temperature, increased heart rate, increased secretion of cortisol (the so-called stress hormone), and increased blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. In addition, recent research has concluded that people who do not get enough sleep are more likely to suffer from physical illnesses and mental disorders. Read More

5. Not protecting yourself from the sun

Participating in the community and being entertained and enjoying the company of other people bring happiness closer

Showing off tanned skin is fashionable, but it can have dangerous consequences. An excess of sun, more without adequate photoprotection, causes premature aging, allergies, eye problems, and burns, in addition to increasing the risk of developing skin cancer.

In our country, there are 4,000 new cases of melanoma each year, a figure that does not stop growing, since nine more cases of this type of cancer are detected each year for every 100,000 inhabitants. The Healthy Skin Foundation of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology insists that 80% of these tumors could be reduced with photoprotection from childhood since inadequate exposure to the sun causes cumulative and lasting damage to the skin.

6. Skip breakfast

There are not few people who skip one or two meals a day. With the excuse of being in a hurry, the most forgotten is breakfast. However, it is essential to start the day: not having breakfast causes an inadequate level of nutrients -especially carbohydrates and proteins- which are very necessary for the early hours of the day for the proper functioning of the brain.

When an overnight fast is extended by omitting breakfast, the gradual decline in insulin and glucose levels, among others, can lead to a fatigue response that could interfere with aspects of cognitive function. This is very important in the academic performance of children and adolescents. Many do not eat breakfast due to a lack of appetite and manifest greater fatigue, feeling sleepy and difficulty maintaining concentration and attention on tasks during school hours.

7. Being lonely

Loneliness, especially if it has not been chosen, takes its toll on physical and mental health. Living without company leads to bad lifestyle habits that affect metabolism and the nervous system. Feeling lonely causes a greater risk of depression and clearly increases the risk of progressive loss of cognitive functions.

On the contrary, participating in the community and entertaining and enjoying the company of other people, be they, family or friends, bring happiness closer. Recently, according to a British study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, the prefrontal cortex (part of the brain that sits above the eyes) is more developed the more friends one has. Even laughing is a highly recommended habit with positive effects in the physical and psychological sphere. Read More

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