Don’t Let Your Bad Habits Kill You
By Joanne Beccarelli
A study published last week by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington confirmed that it’s mostly bad habits that are killing you, including habits regarding diet, smoking, lack of exercise, alcohol consumption and drug use.
Here’s the details of what they looked into and discovered…
When 79 lifestyle risk factors were studied to identify those that contribute to the most common causes of death, 14 factors surfaced as extremely significant.
The study included risk factors that could be attributed to behaviors (B), the environment (E) and occupation (O). These included items such as handwashing, malnutrition, unsafe sex, infectious disease, smoking and, of course, eating habits.
Relating to diet, the study measured habits such as eating red meat and sugary drinks as well as not eating enough whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
In developed countries, metabolic (M) risk factors – which include those measurements usually checked by your doctor such as blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels – were in every top 10 list.
While metabolic measurements by themselves are not habits, they surfaced as critical risk factors and are directly related to dietary habits and behaviors.
The Top 10 Risk Factors Contributing To Deaths In The United States
(Information on other countries can be found here in figures 9 & 10. Factors below are noted according to the study categories).
1. Overweight / High BMI (M)
2. Smoking (B)
3. High Blood Pressure (M)
4. High Fasting Glucose (M)
5. Alcohol Use (B)
6. High Total Cholesterol (M)
7. Physical Activity (B)
8. Drug Use (B)
9. Low Fruit Consumption (B)
10. Kidney function / Glomerular Filtration Rate (M)
What Can You Do?
The importance of changing dietary habits and behaviors is undeniable, especially now with all the GMOs, chemicals, drugs and controversies regarding life and health integrating themselves deeply into modern society.
“Many of the leading causes of death in the U.S. are preventable,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad, a professor of global health who helped lead the study. “It is important to remember that we need to focus on preventing these risk factors such as smoking, obesity and poor diet…”
Here are 5 ways you can start changing your habits to develop a better, healthier lifestyle:
1. Address Your Diet
By improving what you eat, 6 of the 10 risk factors on the list can be managed. Diet is related to weight and BMI and it is also a driving factor of blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol and perhaps even kidney function.
Seek out the support and help you need to make a change in eating habits a goal for your immediate future. Consider any effort and cost you pay now as an investment that will save money on future health care.
2. Include More Physical Activity
You know this one. I am sure of it. When struggling to find time to fit in exercise is the theme of your movement woes, it is time to change the story. Add activity to your daily life rather than ‘exercise.’ This is what the centenarians who live in the Blue Zones around the world do – they simply move more in their normal lives.
3. Eliminate Smoking
Smoking is often tied to social habits that can be modified. Examine your patterns that will help you combat this or seek out a behavioral expert.
4. Quit Or Curb Your Alcohol Use
Like smoking, drinking is tied to social habits. Examine and change your patterns. Seek out a behavioral expert, or join a recovery group, especially if you feel you can’t do it alone.
5. Stop Using Drugs
Examine and change your patterns with recreational use. For harder addictions, seek out an expert or recovery facility.
Change is possible and the effort you put into it now will pay off not so far along down the road. So, rather than be distressed by the news that your habits may be hindering your chances of a long, healthful life, resolve yourself to make changes.
Every positive change puts you on a path to longevity and an easier life, even if the change may seem hard at first. If you take action and start making changes now to better your life and your future, before you know it, you will find that any doubts or excuses you had at the start will be nothing more than floating thoughts from the past.
Joanne Beccarelli is a holistic health coach, juicing junkie, writer, soon to be cookbook author and recovered emotional eater. Inspired by many great voices in the health-thru-food revolution, Joanne found her way out of hiding in shame (losing almost 100 lbs in the process) and stepped away from the corporate world. She now dedicates every day to helping others who are overwhelmed, overworked, and overstressed, find awareness, fulfilment and better health.
Joanne has a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from eCornell/T. Colin Campbell Foundation, and became a Certified Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She is also a member of American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP), and the International Association of Health Coaches (IAHC).
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