Break these habits before they cost you your health.
Taking Your Cell Phone to Bed
If you are so attached to your cell phone that you are sleeping with it on your nightstand or under your pillow, you are exposing yourself to electromagnetic radiation all night long, increasing your risk of certain types of cancer, tumors, decreased fertility, headaches, and so much more. Anytime your cell phone is on, it’s sending and receiving signals to the cell phone towers, and radiofrequency (RF) energy goes out from the phone in all directions for several feet, including to your head and body. These effects are so concerning, the California Department of Public Health issued guidelines to reduce RF/EMF exposure from cell phones, which includes not taking your cell phone to bed.
Using your cell phone before bed also affects your sleep, memory, learning, hearing and behavior. The blue light emitted from screens suppresses production of the hormone melatonin, which helps induce sleep and sets your body’s sleep/wake cycles. Melatonin is also a key hormone for healthy digestion, and you may find yourself with acid reflux when melatonin levels are suppressed for too long.
If you need to be available for phone calls, keep the phone several feet away from your bed. Otherwise, keep it on airplane mode, which turns off the transceiver, or turn your phone off altogether. If your sleep has already been affected, turn off all screens for at least 2 hours before bedtime and supplement with 3 to 6 milligrams of melatonin 30 minutes before you want to go to sleep to help restore healthy levels. For more information on the health effects of cell phone use, Ann Louise Gittleman’s book Zapped is an excellent resource.
Sitting Too Much
When it comes to its affects on your health, sitting is the new smoking. Studies show sitting for extended periods of time increases your risk of high blood pressure, high blood sugar/pre-diabetes, slower metabolism/weight gain, heart disease, and chronic pain – regardless of your age, weight, gender, or exercise level. As your total amount of time sitting per day increases, so does your risk of an early death. Researchers found even 2.5 hours of sitting per day was enough to increase health risks.
Researchers agree that the key to maintaining your health is to get up and move every 30 minutes during the day, whether it’s standing while you talk on the phone, using a standing desk, or even a short 5-minute brisk walk. Take a short walk at lunchtime and in the evening, before you sit down to watch a movie or surf the web.
You may feel like it’s your job as a responsible adult, parent or grandparent to worry about the people you love or responsibilities you have. But worry is stress, and that stress takes a toll on your health over time. Stress of any type, whether it’s worrying about day-to-day issues or narrowly avoiding a car accident, sets off the same survival response in the body, known as Fight or Flight.
Your body can adjust to brief periods of stress, but when the worry persists for more than a short time, your body stays in Fight or Flight, and this is when chronic stress does its damage. Changes in your body that help with survival for the short term actually damage your health in the long term. These changes include increased blood pressure and heart rate, depressed immune system, increased blood sugar, decreased sex drive and fertility, decreased cell turnover, decreased protective fluids in the lining of the digestive tract, decreased sleep, decreased blood flow to extremities – leading to cold hands and feet, reduced ability to form new memories and recall others, and eventually depression.
The hormone cortisol becomes elevated and stays there, causing adrenal fatigue, when the symptoms of short-term stress extend into weeks or months. Once this sets in, it’s important to supplement with a good Adrenal formula while you work on changing your perception about life events and learn to stress less and create more peace and rest in your life. Don’t let stress get the best of you.
Consuming Too Much Sugar, Carbs, and Alcohol
When your metabolism is burning sugar, carbs, and alcohol for fuel instead of healthy fats, it slows down and causes a whole host of health issues, from inflammation to intestinal imbalances. A body that relies primarily on sugars for fuel has achy joints, brain “fog,” low moods, low energy, low motivation, weight gain, high blood sugars, and so much more. Whether your sugars come from fruit juices, doughnuts, or beer, your body processes it all the same – and it leads to more sugar cravings, creating a vicious cycle.
The first thing to do to break the cycle is cut the carbs and sugars in your food and drinks and limit your alcohol intake. Replace sugary drinks with unsweetened cran-water (1 ounce pure cranberry juice with 7 ounces filtered water), and increase the healthy fats in your diet with nuts, seeds and their cold-pressed oils, grass-fed organic meats, and wild-caught cold-water fish. Ann Louise Gittleman’s Fat Flush Plan is an essential guide to navigating healthy eating.
Letting Your Pets “Kiss” You
Those friendly animals that love to lick your face carry a laundry list of bacteria and even parasites that can harm your health. It’s not just what is carried in their saliva, but what’s on their noses. Even the cleanest of house pets has its nose at some time during the day in places you wouldn’t dream of putting yours, and they all lick their noses afterward and later lick you.
Your household pet can carry diseases like MRSA, which are potentially fatal in humans but harmless to them, and children are at the greatest risk of these infections being passed on to them. Animals can also carry parasites, which are easily transmitted to us through eggs in their saliva. They also carry common diseases like the ringworm fungus, which can be passed to humans.
If you have animals you love, snuggle, cuddle, and enjoy them all you want, but avoid letting them lick your face, and when it’s time to worm your pets, do a parasite cleanse for yourself, to be sure they aren’t transmitting any unwanted hitchhikers to you.
Eating Raw Foods
Despite the popularity of raw vegan diets and other raw foods like sushi, they do have their risks. Over the past few years, quite a few pre-made salad products have been recalled for possible contamination, videos have gone viral of worms swimming out of packaged cuts of fresh salmon, and numerous people have tested positive for parasites after eating raw sushi.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, every year millions of Americans develop parasitic infections from food and water and symptoms are often misdiagnosed. Your risk of infection has nothing to do with your race or socioeconomic status. If you are eating salads from a salad bar or restaurant, raw fruits and vegetables that aren’t properly washed, or raw or undercooked meats and seafood, you are putting yourself at risk for food-borne parasites and harmful bacteria.
Regardless of whether you’re experiencing digestive upset, lack of energy, weight gain or loss, or just feel fine, if you are eating raw foods it’s a good idea to do a thorough cleanse at least every 3 months. If you are looking for more information about how parasites can affect your health, Ann Louise Gittleman’s Guess What Came to Dinner? is a must-read.
Staying Out of the Sun
If you are avoiding the sun at all costs, you are missing out on some crucial health benefits. The same UVB rays we think of damaging DNA also kick off the chemical and metabolic chain reactions that lead to Vitamin D production, better moods, and hormone balance. Low Vitamin D from lack of sun exposure is linked to everything from poor bone health to multiple sclerosis and prostate cancer.
The relationship between sun exposure and skin cancer isn’t as straightforward as you may think. Genes, skin type, chemicals in sunscreen, and type of sun exposure are also factors in whether you’re at risk for skin cancers. The key to healthy sun exposure is not to avoid it entirely, but to get moderate daily sun exposure –to bare skin without sunscreen – that doesn’t cause burning.
Getting Dental Amalgams and Root Canals
If you have silver-colored fillings in your teeth or root canals, you are putting your health at risk. Dental amalgams contain at least 50 percent mercury, which is released in low levels in the form of a vapor that is inhaled and absorbed by the lungs. Every time you bite down or drink something hot, this vapor is released. Over time, this can affect the health of your brain, nervous system, liver, lungs, GI tract, and kidneys and has been linked to numerous health conditions and diseases.
Many people choose to have root canals done to avoid having their tooth removed, and aren’t aware of the health risks. During a root canal, there is no way to remove the infection that caused the tooth to decay, so it remains in the dead tooth, where it can’t be reached by antibiotics. The bacteria can then spread to other teeth and tissues in the body, including your heart and bones. Chronic degenerative diseases are strongly linked to root canals.
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Over half of all adults in the US are not getting enough sleep, and according to a recent study, 61 percent of adults crave sleep more than sex. Lack of sleep is affecting your health in more ways than you think – it leads to weight gain, depression, and skin aging, among other health issues. When you sleep, your brain recharges, your cells repair themselves, your organs detox, and your body releases important hormones.
The average adult needs 6 to 8 hours of good quality sleep, but this number may increase if there are other health factors. To get the sleep you need: make sure you get enough movement and exercise during the day, unplug from all screens at least 2 hours before bedtime, sleep in a dark room on a comfortable mattress, and eat foods with essential fats and proteins that keep your energy up and your hormones balanced.
Cigarettes contain a toxic blend of chemicals designed to keep you coming back for more, but also causing disease and early death. According to the CDC, more than 10 times as many US adults have died from smoking than have died in all the wars the US has fought. If the cancer and heart disease risk hasn’t scared you away, then consider that smoking suppresses your immune system, causing you to catch more colds, flus, and other viruses, increasing the likelihood of pneumonia and other life-threatening infections.
But chances are you’re aware of all this and are having trouble breaking the addiction. If this is the case, consider EFT, a tapping technique that helps overcome cravings and related emotional issues. There’s no need to do it alone, 1-800-QUIT-NOW can provide you with local resources and support to help you kick the habit. After just one year smoke-free, your risk for heart attack drops sharply, and risks for stroke and cancers follow suit.