Ask Away Blog: 8 Reasons Why You May Not Be As Healthy As You Think

8 Reasons Why You May Not Be As Healthy As You Think

Thursday, September 3, 2020

 

It’s safe to say we all agree on the importance of good health. What does that actually mean to you? Does it mean making time to spend at the gym, working off the calories (and stress) that you’ve accumulated throughout the day? Is it using an app like My Fitness Pal to track your calories and macronutrients? Is it about exercising judgment and discipline to avoid the sugary, salty and fatty processed temptations that assail our senses on a daily basis? Is in ensuring that you have something green on your plate at every meal?

Image by Sasint via Pixabay



Of course, diet and exercise are two vital components of good health. Yet, as important as they are, they’re really the tip of the iceberg. And even those of us who exercise regularly and eat “well” (we’ll get into the problem with such an over-simplification later) can find ourselves neglecting other fundamental aspects of our health.

Here we’ll look at some ways in which you may not be as healthy as you think, and how our 21st century lifestyle (and contemporary myths and misconceptions) could be getting in the way of our health and fitness goals...

It’s been way too long since you’ve seen the dentist

Good dental health is about more than just having a dazzlingly white smile. Although that’s undoubtedly important for your confidence and mental health, too. It’s about ensuring that your teeth are up to the task of chewing your food to ensure optimal digestion and ensure that our bodies absorb all the nutrients they need from our food. You may assume that regular brushing and flossing are all you need to maintain a healthy mouth. But if you’re not checking in with your dentist at least once a year, you could be neglecting your health in some surprising ways.

Your mouth is a good indicator of our overall health, and there are some health issues that your dentist may be the first to see. Even before your doctor. HIV, diabetes, Chron’s disease, anemia, oral cancer and a range of other diseases can be spotted by your dentist first. And the sooner these health issues are identified, the sooner you can take steps to mitigate them.

If it’s been way too long since you last saw your dentist, you may be surprised by how much an appointment can benefit your overall health as well as your appearance.

You have allergies that you never even knew about

Do you ever find that your skin starts to get itchy but you’ve no idea why? Do you find yourself feeling sick or nauseous when you eat at a new restaurant? Do you find yourself sneezing uncontrollably but you’ve no idea why?

You may have assumed that if you had an allergy to some part of your diet, your home or your lifestyle, you’d be aware of it by now. Yet, while many of us find out our allergic triggers in childhood, allergies can affect us well into our adult years. And when we’re unaware of our allergic triggers, it can prove limiting and detrimental to our health and our quality of life.

Allergy Insider blood testing can make you aware of allergic triggers that you may otherwise have never known about. With awareness and proper medication, you can prevent your allergies from impacting on your health and your day-to-day life.

You spend way too much time on your phone

Since their inception a little over a decade ago, our smartphones have been our near-constant companions. But while they may be a source of near-infinite convenience, enabling us to do everything from ordering dinner to dimming the lights, they can also become surprisingly damaging to your health.

All smartphones emit radiation and Electro Magnetic Frequencies. A combination that has been linked to a wide range of ill health outcomes from the relatively benign like headaches and nausea to the potentially serious like depression to the potentially life changing like infertility, and even (potentially) increased cancer risk. While nobody’s suggesting that you part ways with your phone, it’s certainly worth reconsidering your relationship with it, and knowing when to leave it in a drawer.

Furthermore, the blue light emitted by the screens of our phones, TVs and other devices is known to reduce the brain’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin. So, if you’re struggling to nod off at night, your nocturnal scrolling may be to blame. Which brings us to...

You’re not getting enough sleep

What’s a good night’s sleep to you? 8 hours? 7? 6? 5? Surely you’re getting more than 4, right?!? All you have to do is wake up after an inadequate night’s sleep to realize how crucial shut-eye is for your overall health.

If you’re reading this in the USA, I have some scary new for you. You’re living in one of the most sleep deprived countries in the world. According to a 2013 Gallup Poll, the average American worker clocks in less than 7 hours sleep a day. 40% of us get less than 6 hours a day in the sack. And that’s a potentially huge problem.

While we’re asleep, our bodies carry out all kinds of essential repairs and maintenance. It repairs the muscle tissues that are damaged while we exercise, ensuring that they grow back stronger and more flexible. Which is why athletes and body builders understand that their time between the sheets is as important as their time in the gym or the meals they cook up in the kitchen. A good night’s sleep plays a crucial role in keeping our metabolisms efficient so that we burn more calories, even while we’re at rest.

Furthermore, sleep helps to regulate our hormone levels, including the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which help to regulate our appetite. If you’re not getting enough sleep, it’s all too easy to become tempted by unhealthy foods.

You’re not doing enough to combat stress

We have an unhealthy attitude towards stress in this country. We treat it as something to be conquered and even embraced. And while it’s true that a little stress can be good for us, chronic stress has been linked to all kinds of health risks including weight gain, anxiety, depression and even an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.

If you exercise regularly, this can certainly help in mitigating stress levels. But if your stress is getting too much, you should also consider…

-Cutting down on coffee and processed foods. Caffeine and sodium can exacerbate stress!

-Practice mindfulness meditation every day.

-Find something to smile or laugh about. Laughter floods the brain with endorphins, dopamine and serotonin, just like exercise.

Image by StevePB via Pixabay



You’re relying too much on “healthy” processed foods

Many of us in the US assume that we have a good diet. But unfortunately, our conception of a “good” diet has become skewed. We’ve become conditioned to see protein as the macronutrient to rule them all, and as long as we’re getting enough of it we don’t spare a thought for vitamins, minerals, healthy fats or complex carbohydrates. Balance is an integral part of a healthy diet. And in our zeal to consume as much protein as possible to support our progress in the gym, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.

In response to our obsession with protein, all kinds of prepackaged processed foods have hit the shelves, using deliberately misleading tactics to market themselves as healthy when they are actually far from it. The most transparent of these has been to sneak in a little whey protein to try and repackage unhealthy foods as workout aids. Look around any grocery store and you’ll find protein loaded into everything from breakfast cereals to cheese and yogurts to candy bars. But take a look at the label and you’ll find that these supposedly healthy foods are loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors and flavorings and other ingredients that should have no place inside our bodies.

A healthy diet isn’t just one that is packed with protein. It’s one that is made of real food rather than processed food like substances. It’s a diet with a varied and natural color palette that has the right balance between nutrients and calories. If you’re looking for a simple rule of thumb, look no further than the words of Michael Pollan;

Eat food
Not too much
Mostly plants

You’re letting your determination to lose weight become an obsession

It might seem paradoxical, but trying too hard to lose weight can actually be detrimental to your health rather than beneficial. It can send you into a spiral of obsession and self-recrimination that robs our lives of joy, exacerbates our anxiety and stress levels and has a profoundly negative impact on our self-esteem.

You’re almost always sitting down

Finally, the reality of living in the 2020s for many of us means that we spend much of our day seated. We’re either sitting at a desk, in the car, on the train, at the dinner table for the vast majority of the day. And configuring our bodies in this way (especially if we’re leaning forwards to look at a screen) can put a lot of pressure on our vital organs, resulting in an increased risk of a number of chronic diseases. It’s not for nothing that sitting has become known as “the new smoking”.

Try to get up and go for a short walk at least once every hour. Your body will thank you for it!

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