While there are many other factors that predispose people to short life spans, some common health mistakes we make out of either ignorance or negligence are the major culprits.
Here, seven of the commonest health mistakes people make are discussed (in no particular order), alongside tips for living a healthier life through correcting these deadly mistakes.
1. Sedentary lifestyle
Even though almost everyone is guilty of this, those in the upper class are guiltier. We erroneously associate a sedentary lifestyle with affluence, and we term even the mildest activity as “stress”. We hate to engage in activities that will help exercise our bones and muscles. Instead, we prefer to sit for long hours watching TV, surfing the web, chatting with others, reading, and so on – without standing up at intervals to stretch our limbs.
For individuals in the upper class, a typical day goes like this: They wake up in the morning and set out for work (without any exercise). They go to their workplaces in their cars, sit for long hours at work, and return home in their cars as well. On getting home later in the day, they take dinner and sleep – without engaging in any form of exercise whatsoever throughout the day.
The result of a sedentary lifestyle is obesity, which many erroneously think is a “sign of good living”. However, in reality, obesity is a warning signal, as it predisposes you to dangerous health conditions such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, stroke, and many others.
Always avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Engage in mild exercises everyday and avoid sitting for long hours. Set aside a small portion of your day (some minutes) for an activity such jogging, doing push-ups, walking fairly long distances, jumping, running up and down the staircase, and so on.
In addition, when you are at work, take breaks at intervals to stretch your muscles. Being active with household chores also helps prevent the accumulation of excess fat in your body, which results in obesity.
2. Unhealthy eating habits
Our health hinges largely on the foods we eat. Unfortunately, however, most of us do not care about what we put in our mouths. This is another leading cause of obesity.
We consume foods high in calories, we skip breakfast most of the time, and we eat dinner late in the night. To make matters worse, we eat oversized portions. All of these contribute to quick weight gain, leading to obesity.
Aside obesity, many other health problems arise from our unhealthy eating habits. For instance, rather than take foods and fruits in their natural form (which is undoubtedly the best form), we prefer taking processed foods instead. Sadly, most processed foods lack the required beneficial nutrients that natural foods contain. In addition, many processed foods are preserved with substances and chemicals that are harmful to our body tissues and organs.
Watch what you eat. Avoid taking high calorie foods frequently or in large quantities. Avoid skipping breakfast, and take only light foods for dinner (be sure to eat at least two hours before bedtime). To avoid weight gain, eat less carbohydrate and more of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
In addition, eat natural foods and fruits rather than their processed forms.
3. Unhealthy drinking habits
Just as we are careless about our food, we are also careless about what we drink. Most of us, rather than quench our thirst with water, prefer soft drinks, energy drinks, and other processed drinks. Worse, some even quench their thirst with alcoholic drinks!
Aside the fact that high calorie drinks can contribute to obesity, most processed drinks contain dangerously high amounts of sugar and preservatives. Apparently, these drinks may seem refreshing when taken, but most of them greatly disturb the body’s water and acid-base balance, leading to severe disorders and disease conditions.
Alcoholic drinks are known to cause severe damage to the body’s vital organs such as the kidneys, heart, and liver, amidst other disadvantages.
Avoid alcoholic drinks – totally. Reduce your consumption of processed drinks to the barest minimum. Any time you feel thirsty, drink water instead of soft drinks or energy drinks. In addition, drink lots of water, as this enhances kidney function.
4. Bad drug use habits
Drugs should be taken only by prescription – in the right dosage and for the right duration of time. However, we make many mistakes regarding the way we use drugs. One of such mistakes is self-medication and taking drugs without prescription.
Rather than consult a medical expert when we observe any signs of illness, most of us resort to self-medication. This practice is very dangerous because we lack knowledge of how drugs work and interact with our body systems. In addition, we are not qualified to diagnose disorders and conditions or prescribe drugs. Only certified medical personnel are qualified for this.
Another common mistake we make regarding drug use is not completing medications as instructed by medical experts. Most of us, when advised to take a certain medication for a specified number of days, stop taking it as soon as we start observing some improvement in our health. This habit can lead to a relapse, as the medications are not taken in enough quantities to ensure a lasting cure.
Avoid self-diagnosis and self-treatment. When you observe any strange symptoms, consult qualified medical experts. Only medical experts are qualified to diagnose and prescribe drugs for disorders and diseases. If you are not one, do not take the position of one, and do not take advice from others who may try to act as one.
In addition, always follow the doctor’s advice regarding dosage. Only the doctor knows best the right quantity of the medication you need to ensure a timely cure as well as the timeframe for which you should use the drug. Therefore, you will help yourself greatly by sticking with the doctor’s advice.
5. Sleep deprivation
Many of us deliberately deprive ourselves of adequate sleep. According to medical experts, an average adult must sleep for 6-8 hours daily. Unfortunately, most of us sleep for less hours. Although some might hide under the excuse of workload, many of us have no excuses for not sleeping enough. We stay up late into the night watching TV or doing other things.
Aside the fact that it impairs attention, reduces memory strength, and diminishes the sex drive, having inadequate sleep leads to many terrible health consequences such as high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, heart failure, and irregular heartbeat, among many others.
Always sleep for at least 6 hours daily, as this keeps your body in good shape.
6. Smoking and second-hand smoking
An alarmingly high percentage of people worldwide smokes cigarettes, pipes, marijuana, and other forms of tobacco. Aside from being one the leading causes of lung related diseases, tobacco smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diseases of the respiratory tract.
In addition, one shocking fact most of us are unaware of is that second-hand smoking (i.e. inhaling tobacco fumes puffed by a smoker) is almost equally as dangerous to health as real smoking.
Avoid smoking. Also, avoid second-hand smoking by quickly leaving areas where you sight smokers doing their thing.
7. Negligence and indifference to early symptoms
In many countries today, most patients arrive at the hospital at the most advanced stages of their illnesses, when much damage had been done. At such stages, doctors can do very little (or nothing) to save their lives.
Most of the time, we easily sense it when strange things start to happen in our bodies, but we often neglect such early signs. Instead, we ignore them until they grow worse and become life threatening. This is one of the causes of most health-related deaths – especially in developing countries.
Always check your weight and blood pressure, and watch out for any strange signs. Doing this regularly will help you detect early signs of disease.
In addition, whenever you observe a strange development in your body (some pain, a swelling, or recurrent headaches), seek medical advice immediately. This will help you arrest the development of such symptoms into more advanced, deadly conditions.
If we all start avoiding the health mistakes discussed, and start adopting the health tips offered, we would all live healthier lives.