Don’t smoke, exercise more, stress less, eat healthier and avoid alcohol – these are commonly recognised as the fundamental pillars of good well-being and whilst they all hold true when it comes to our health, there are some health habits that need addressing, as they may be doing us more harm than good.
Consuming too much salt
Sodium is an essential element that plays a vital role in the functioning of nerve cells, preventing muscle cramps, the regulation of blood sugar levels and fluid balance. However, as a nation we’re guilty of consuming up to 3 times more the required amount of sodium and are putting ourselves at the associated risks because of it. We needn’t bore you with the details as we’ve already discussed 10 Reasons Why Too Much Salt Is Bad For Your Health here but in short, blood pressure rises, blood vessels get damaged, you become dehydrated and your risk of strokes, heart disease and dementia increase as well – not a pretty picture.
As we age, we natural experience a loss of bone mass, especially women after menopause. We all heard as kids that calcium is responsible for building strong bones and teeth and it wasn’t untrue. Calcium is an important nutrient that plays a critical role in the maintenance and development of healthy bones. Many nutritionists recommend an adult’s intake to be around 1000mg per day. Whilst it’s completely possible to extract calcium organically from plant sources, diary products are one of the most calcium dense and convenient sources of calcium available.
Avoiding weight training
Running, walking, cycling and swimming are all great for burning calories and experiencing some moderate health benefits but they, alone won’t lead to healthy, sustainable fat loss and fitness results. Resistance training bumps up our metabolic rate allowing us to burn more calories, even when resting. Weight training also makes us stronger, increases joint strength making us less susceptible to injury, improves our posture and sculpts a healthy, aesthetically pleasing physique that wouldn’t otherwise be available through cardio-vascular exercise.
Drinking too much alcohol
It doesn’t take sophisticated research to inform us of the unsettling health implications and risks of excessive alcohol intake. The list of potential risks from alcoholic consumption ranges from depression and liver disease to weight gain and cancer. Alternatively, stopping drinking for just one month can help improve liver function and decrease liver fat build-up by as much as 20%! Check out 7 Things That Happen When You Stop Drinking For A Month for more information on the benefits of going tee-total
Not eating enough fruits and veggies
It’s thought that more than 3 quarters of Brits don’t meet the required guidelines of fruit and vegetable consumption. Whether we love them or hate the, fruits and veggies are packed full of essential vitamins and minerals which are responsible for a multitude of health benefits. From reducing the risk of heart disease, strokes and cancers to helping manage body weight, the list is seemingly endless. Their consumption also provides us with a nutritional goldmine: fibre. Although present in other sources, fruits and veggies are one of the best ways to add fibre to your diet and their versatility means they can be used in a number of delicious ways – have them as a snack, add them to smoothies or use them to compliment your normal meals.
Not allowing yourself to indulge
When it comes to our eating habits, there’s no need to blacklist certain items and forbid their consumption. It is still entirely possible to enjoy sweet treats and still maintain a lean and healthy body. Research indicates that individuals who impose restrictions on certain food groups are significantly more likely to fall victim to overeating. The study shows that people who follow rigid meal plans, which place restraints are more likely to experience cravings and are more likely to succumb to those cravings. Sometimes, giving yourself a little of what you want can be a good thing…
Going on detoxes
If there’s one fitness fad that we hate more than anything, it’s the myth of quick detoxing that has been immensely popular over the past few years. There is no definitive evidence to support the claims that the various detox books and smoothies have any positive effect on your body and its ability to detox. The liver and kidneys are designed to naturally get rid of toxins and the addition of an expensive supplement is unlikely to change that. But if wasting your time and money is for you, go right ahead and buy the latest detox smoothie recipe book.
Not drinking enough water
If we had to pinpoint the singular, most important aspect of a healthy eating plan, it’d be sufficient water intake. We become dehydrated when the body has lost more water than it’s taken in and as a result, our bodies are unable to perform at an optimal level. Water affects nearly every physical and physiological process we do, and with over two thirds of our bodies being made up of the stuff, it shouldn’t be a surprise when we say that water is pretty dam important for our health. Water is vital in aiding digestion and transporting nutrients which play a role in our overall levels of health, concentration and mental health. Dehydration can lead to headaches, fatigue, dry skins, cramps and kidney problems and constipation. Aim for around 1.5 top 2 litres a day.
Setting unrealistic fitness goals
When it comes to health and fitness (or any other area of our live) we should have some precise goals in which to work toward. After all, how can we know we’re progressing and getting better if we don’t have a target to strive towards? The problem for many people however, lies not in setting goals in the first place, but in setting targets that are too optimistic and unrealistic. Girls wanting thigh gaps and boys wanting to look like Men’s Health fitness models before the trip to Magaluf in 5 weeks are typical examples of unrealistic expectations of goal setting. Striving for unattainable targets which were never realistic in the first place can leave us feeling discouraged when our visions don’t come true and can leave us wandering why we bothered with trying in the first place. It’s important to be realistic with our fitness expectations and be lenient in our time frame for them.