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Avoidable health mistakes

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The ten most common and avoidable health mistakes that people make to adversely impact their health


People sometimes sabotage their health with some common mistakes they make. Staying up too late, using tanning salons, smoking and not eating breakfast are a few of the most common health mistakes people make - but there a whole lot more!

Your well-being needs to be a top priority - making these simple health mistakes means that you can suffer needlessly. If you are guilty of any of these health mistakes, act now to save your health.

The list below shows the ten most common health mistakes people regularly make - don't ignore them:




Not getting enough sleep

Bedroom, old fashionedMost people need around 6-8 hours of sleep a night, to be able to function effectively. Depriving yourself of sleep is a sure way to feel sluggish and be less mentally alert the next day. Not having enough sleep has also been linked to obesity, heart disease, anxiety and depression.

In order to sleep better, a regular sleeping pattern should be followed - going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day. The bedroom should only be used for sleep (or that other fun activity between two adults), with no distractions such as laptop computers or televisions. The bedroom should be a place for regular and satisfying sleep.


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Lit cigarette in ashtraySmoking is very well known to be a complete health hazard, not just for the smoker, but for everyone around them too, as they inhale the smoke, through passive smoking.

Smoking has been implicated in lung, mouth and throat cancer, pregnancy complications, premature wrinkles and likelihood of impotence for men.

Luckily, more and more countries are passing anti-smoking laws for public places - so now it is possible to go out and not be subjected to other people's dangerous cigarette smoke (no more passive smoking).

While quitting is very difficult for smokers due to the highly addictive nature of cigarette smoke, it is vital to quit, in order to gain better lung health primarily. If you insist on smoking, remember that you need extra vitamin C, as smoking depletes this from the body. This is also valid for passive smokers too.



Using tanning salons

Tanning Salon SunbedIt is very well known that too much sun damages the skin and latest evidence has shown that tanning salons also damage the skin. An all-year-round tan is not worth the possible health risks - such as skin cancer and premature wrinkling. A much better option is to use a self-tanners and to just keep out of the sun between the hours of 11am and 2pm, when the sun is at it's strongest and can potentially cause the most damage. Sunscreen is also recommended at all times when you are exposed to the sun's days, but some sunshine is necessary for obtaining Vitamin D, so some time spent in the sun is required.

Recent legislation in Australia in a number of states has banned minors (children under 18) from using tanning salons

Legislation in the USA does not allow minors (children under 18) to use tanning salons unless they have permission from their parents, with some states either banning minors from using tanning salons or they are in the process of creating legislation to enable this ban


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Skipping breakfast

Berries and oatmeal healthy breakfastBreakfast is the most important meal of the day, because it starts your metabolism up again, after it has slowed down while you are sleeping. Skipping breakfast means your blood sugar and energy levels start to drop and result in reduced mental ability. Eating nothing at breakfast can result in eating more during the rest of the day, to compensate for not having breakfast and feeling hungry.

If you have not eaten breakfast for a long time, a good way to start, is to have small portions of easily digestible foods to get you used to having some food at this time.

Some good examples for those who need to start with a small breakfast are:

The above breakfast ideas are quick and easy to prepare and easy to digest and will serve the important purpose of ensuring you kick-start your metabolism after sleeping and give you the energy to start the day.


Avoiding regular medical checks

StethoscopeThere are many regular medical checks that need to be undertaken by men and women either yearly or less regularly, to ensure you have a clean bill of health and any disease can be caught in the initial stages, when it is far easier to treat it, than if it is already progressed and is in an advanced stage. These visits can potentially save your life.

Women should visit their gynaecologist for a pap smear every 1-2 years, when they will also have a breast examination. A yearly mammogram is recommended for women over 40.

Men should have their genitals (including prostate) checked for irregularities every year.

A six-monthly visit to the dentist is recommended, as is a yearly check-up with your family doctor (unless there are health problems which need immediate resolution, which require a visit).

There are many other medical tests that need to be done, but only for those people who are at high risk of developing these diseases. Your family doctor, who has your family history, will know what to tests to order for you, to keep you healthy.

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Not exercising

Fitness and exerciseExercise is vital to ensure all parts of your body are continually being conditioned and used efficiently. Exercise helps your heart function properly, ensures your lungs are working effectively, tones your body, builds muscle tone and helps you lose fat. Most women do not need to build up much muscle tone to gain the benefits of exercise - a faster metabolism which burns fat, even when the body is still.

Exercising also has many other health benefits - one study revealed that people who exercised regularly had 25% less colds than those people who did not exercise.

Exercise releases endorphins - which are "feel-good" hormones. This means that it is a very useful technique to release any stress very easily and effectively.


Not reducing stress

Thai massageMore and more studies are showing stress causes or exacerbates many health conditions. Stressful situations result in the "flight or fight" syndrome effect in the body. As most stressful situations today do not allow the proper release of stress hormones (namely cortisol), it means these hormone increase and affect the whole body in a negative way.

In one study where university students stress levels were measured, especially at exam time, showed that those students who had higher stress levels had decreased immune function.

Some ways to release stress are to have a regular relaxing massage, curb the negative self-talk (if it is a problem), have time management strategies in place to manage exams or work projects and do some form of physical activity. Exercise is an effective way to release stress. The B Vitamins support the nervous system and are a useful supplement in times of stress. Foods that contain higher levels of the B vitamins are wholegrain and dairy products, vegemite and yeast.

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Not controlling your temper

Angry face on statue in Majishan ChinaAnger management is vital to good health. Frequent angry outbursts show a distinct inability to handle negative emotions, holding them inside until they have reached boiling point, where an emotional explosion naturally occurs. Holding negative emotions inside, rather then expressing them as they happen is really harmful to health, as it means these emotions often become bigger than they were initially, any further negative emotion is heaped on top and then it all becomes overwhelming and comes out in a temper tantrum, which is not just harmful for the person experiencing it, but also for the recipient and can cause alienation in relationships.

Strategies are required to release negative emotions in a safe way and to cope with the angry outbursts if they do occur:


Avoiding fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables, fresh and rawFruit and vegetables contain the highest levels of almost all antioxidants, which are vital for scavenging and removing inactivating free radicals in the body, as well as boosting the immune system.

Some free radicals are naturally produced in the body as by-products of specific, natural processes, but the body is normally able to handle and remove these harmlessly. It is more often the free radicals from pollution, chemicals in the office and home, cigarette smoke, that can cause a build-up of free radicals in the body.

Damage from free radicals has been implicated in heart disease and various cancers, because of the potential damage to the DNA (the basis of all cells), which leaves an opening for serious disease. Antioxidants mop up the free radicals in the body and remove them harmlessly, thus ensuring there is no DNA damage.

Vegetables and fruits, especially brightly coloured ones, contain the highest levels of antioxidants and should be eaten at every meal to get the healthy immune-boosting and free radical removal benefits.

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Going on fad diets

Fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, eggs, grainsThere are a lot of crazy diets in the market, which do nothing for ensuring that weight loss is permanent and health is maintained.

Some diets restrict the kilojoule intake to a level that is too low for normal and healthy human function

Some diets restrict eliminate or severely restrict complete food groups which will only ensure that your health is compromised through the lack of many vitamins and minerals

Some diets advocate eating no fats or oils, which will only ensure that the essential fatty acids are lacking and will cause health problems if followed for a long period

The only way to ensure weight loss is to follow a sensible, healthy eating plan with enough protein, fat and carbohydrates in each meal. This means low fat, but not no fat, carbohydrate and protein is eaten with every meal, as the human body needs the essential fatty acids in fats and oils, carbohydrates for energy and protein to build cells and muscles.

Last reviewed: 15 January 2010 || Last updated: 15 July 2010


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NOTE: Mega doses of any type of vitamin, mineral, amino acid or herbal supplement cannot cure illnesses and in fact can be very dangerous and produce toxic side effects and interfere with medicine you are taking. Always ensure you consult your doctor before taking any type of complementary supplements.
Disclaimer: This guide is not intended to be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. For any treatment or diagnosis of illness, please see your doctor.

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