Bad habits – we all have them. Yes, probably even you!
Just because you might not smoke and hit the gym regularly, that doesn’t mean there’s not another sneaky habit that is detrimentally affecting your health without you even knowing.
While we've all been taught that smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your overall health, and that is indeed very true, we perhaps weren’t taught about the other bad behaviours that can take years off your life expectancy.
Below are five of these unhealthy habits, and while you might even be doing one of them this very minute (oops… I am), thankfully they can all be fixed.
1. Drinking soft drink
Whether it’s a hot summer’s day, part of a meal deal, you just want a sugar fix, knocking back a fizzy drink is no doubt one of the worst habits of the modern world.
Not only have multiple studies shown strong links between sugary drinks and cardiovascular disease, your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, tooth decay and reproductive issues dramatically increase.
FIX IT: If you really crave that sugar fix, try substituting the soda for a freshly squeezed fruit juice or even cold water. You might think you need the fizz, but you could simply just be thirsty.
2. Indoor tanning
We sincerely hope by this point that none of you are still using tanning beds, but in case you needed a reason to stop, here’s a few.
As well as prematurely aging your skin, The Skin Cancer Foundation recently discovered that those who use tanning beds under the age of 30 increase their risk melanoma by up to 75 percent, and if THAT wasn’t enough, a separate study found that around 420,000 cases of skin cancer were caused by indoor tanning in the US alone.
FIX IT: Duh! Embrace your natural skin or fake it till you make it! Alternatively, if you really crave that summer glow, Prevention suggests that consuming foods rich in carotenoids such as tomato and carrot will help boost your tone.
3. Sitting all day
Researchers from the University of Queensland found that smoking a single cigarette cuts your life by around 11 minutes, but studies have also shown that sitting stationary for just an hour - like we do when we watch television or work a desk job, can decrease your life expectancy by 21.8 minutes!
It’s a scary thought to come to grips with, but sitting sedentary increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancers.
FIX IT: Get up regularly, even if you simply take a walk to the kitchen to get a glass of water or fix yourself a snack. Stretch while watching television or even pace while you gossip away on the phone.
4. Not sleeping enough
A lack of sleep can cause high blood pressure and obesity, and in severe cases can lead to brain damage, heart attack and stroke.
Studies have even shown that not getting at least six or seven hours of sleep each night can lead to heightened mortality rates comparable to cigarette smokers, so there’s really never been a better reason to hit the sack for your full eight hours.
FIX IT: Avoid 2am bedtimes and ensure that you wake up well-rested by simply going to sleep earlier. Netflix will still be there tomorrow!
5. Eating too much meat
A 2015 study found that adults on a high-animal-protein diet were 74% more likely to die for any reason, and 4 times more likely to die from cancer.
Why? Because animal proteins contain high levels of IGF-1, a hormone that is known to promote the growth of cancer cells.
FIX IT: Try swapping out meat for other high-protein foods such as beans, lentils and yoghurt, or indulging in a vegie diet for even just one day a week with ‘meat-free Mondays’.