Unhealthy Habits That Can Shorten Your Lifespan

Originally published on JerryShiveley.com

There are countless blogs spanning across the internet detailing what is and is not a healthy habit, with some being factually proven, and others being based purely on speculation. These can vary from person to person, but understanding what can and typically is bad for your health is crucial in preserving your well-being. Here are some surprising habits that may go unnoticed from day to day which can shorten your lifespan.

Sitting

Standing desks have become largely popular due to these relatively new findings claiming that sitting for too long is harmful to your overall health. Even sitting more than 3 hours per day could increase your chances of contracting illnesses or muscle complications. However, regular exercise and stretching has been shown to combat these negative side effects. Pay attention to how often and how long you are spending your days on the couch or in a chair. Standing every now and then just to stretch can prove extremely beneficial in the long run.

Spending too much time alone

Many people prefer to spend their days alone, but too much of this can have damaging psychological effects. Specifically, having trouble finding a significant other was shown to be a cause of a shorter lifespan, as well as neglecting friend groups. While solitude is certainly not a bad thing, knowing how much is too much is very important. A contributing factor is that people with weaker social connections were shown to smoke cigarettes more and partake in other unhealthy habits. When you step back to look at the bigger picture, finding companionship in another person seems like a sure way to boost and preserve your mental health.

Extended work commutes

Sitting in traffic and driving long distances to work is something very few people enjoy. Those people may be right in feeling that way though, as longer drives have been linked to increased levels of stress, and physical complications that come with sitting for so long. So, if you have the option, explore different modes of transportation from time to time to break up the monotony of your daily commute. Take a city bus, ride your bike, or even walk to work if distance is not an issue.

A continued job hunt
Spending long periods of time unemployed and searching for a job can do damage to both your wallet and health. According to a study conducted in 2011, an individual’s risk of premature death is increased as much as 63% when unemployed. So while that morning commute may be something worth avoiding, not having a career at all can be significantly worse.

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How Stress Can Affect Your Overall Wellness

Originally published on JerryShiveley.com

Stress is something that affects everyone sooner or later. While often viewed as a minor psychological condition, it can take a serious toll on a person’s health. According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS), 77% of adults experience physical ailments because of stress. While stress affects people’s health in different ways, some of the most common problems include the following.

Trouble Sleeping

Many people who suffer from chronic stress also have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Stress triggers biochemical changes in the body, such as the production and release of cortisol, that disturbs normal sleeping cycles. When stressed, a person may toss and turn all night. And if they happen to fall asleep, they generally won’t enter the deep sleep stage when it’s most rejuvenating and valuable.

Fatigue

Stress also causes fatigue, which is intensified from lack of sleep. Stress is essentially the body’s fight-or-flight response. When a person encounters a perceived threat, his or her body responds by producing adrenaline, cortisol and other stress-related chemicals. This results in a sudden boost in energy and alertness. Unfortunately, these effects are short-lived, with stress causing the person’s energy levels to drop thereafter.

Muscle Pain

When a person experiences severe, prolonged stress, he or she may develop muscle pain and soreness. There are a few reasons for this phenomenon, one of which is the fact that stress causes muscle tension. A stressed person may unknowingly keep his or her muscles in a contracted state. If this tension isn’t released, the person’s muscles will become painfully fatigued. Stress also contributes to muscle pain by promoting lactic acid buildup. As lactic acid accumulates in muscle tissue, the affected muscles become sore.

High Blood Pressure

Stress is a primary risk of high blood pressure. The Mayo Clinic explains that stress hormones cause a person’s blood pressure to rise. Previously, it was believed that this effect was temporary, but research has shown this isn’t the case. Chronic stress contributes to both short- and long-term high blood pressure.

Weakened Immune System

The immune system relies on proper hormone balance to function as intended. When a person’s hormones are out of balance, his or her immune system will become suppressed, thereby increasing the risk of infection. And because stress disturbs a person’s hormonal balance, it can lead to a weakened immune system.

These are only a few ways that stress affects a person’s health and wellness. When left unchecked, stress can also damage the heart, cause depression and contribute to poor lifestyle choices.

How Adding Spices to Your Diet Could Add Years to Your Life

Originally published on JerryShiveley.com

A study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that adding spicier foods and seasonings to one’s diet could have some lasting health benefits. According to this find, people who consumed spicy foods 6-7 days per week were 14% less likely to succumb to age-related deaths than those who ate spicy foods once or fewer per week; a statistic worth noting for those worried about their health in later years.

Many different types of hot peppers contain the compound capsaicin. This has been used for centuries as a form of medicine, dating back to Native Americans. Today, researchers have found that individuals who consume hot peppers fairly regularly show lower levels of insulin after consumption, suggesting that capsaicin could potentially lower one’s risk of type-2 diabetes. Additionally, heart health among men who ate hot peppers was shown to improve, as their resting heart rates lowered, and overall function increased. Capsaicin can also reduce inflammation, which can protect your body’s cells, effectively preventing cancer.

If your threshold for spice is not particularly high, there are a number of other seasonings that can give you the same health benefits as capsaicin, if not more. Replacing salt and excess fats with herbs and spices is a great way of maintaining blood pressure, and adding more minerals to your diet, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium.

Garlic and turmeric are two more spices that come with an array of health benefits, and are very easy to add to any meal. Garlic, as most people know, goes great with Italian dishes, stir-fries, vegetables, and more. The advantages this spice brings to the table are reduced risks of colorectal cancer, stomach cancer, and even breast cancer.

Turmeric is typically the main ingredient in curry powder and yellow mustards; an optimal replacement for mayonnaise and other condiments with high levels of fat. This compound also contains anti-inflammatory ingredients, in addition to boosting the body’s output of antioxidants.

Many green herbs like basil, mint, oregano, and rosemary contain flavonoids that protect cells from damage and prevent the growth of bacteria. The oils in these spices prevent this, and the marinades that these are often in can reduce the levels of compounds that grow cancer cells.

On the sweeter side, spices like cinnamon and ground nutmeg are both anti-inflammatory as well. Cinnamon contains gingerols, which can prevent colorectal cancer, in addition to lowering your levels of blood sugar. Adding these spices to your morning cup of coffee, baked goods, and even salads could provide you with these additional health benefits.

The foods and meals in which you can introduce these multiple spices are endless. Don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen. The ultimate goal is to harbor the advantages that these super-spices provide for your overall health.

A Few Ways to Protect Your Mental Health

The preservation of mental health is finally being considered as important as one’s physical health in recent years thanks to the significant amount of research that has gone into this topic. It can be much more difficult working out your brain in comparison to your body, but doing so is important for your well-being. The following tips are just a few of many ways you can flex your mental muscles.

Think Positive

Even so much as having a positive outlook on life and valuing yourself as a person can do wonders for your mental health. Be kind to yourself, forgive yourself when you make mistakes, and do your best to avoid self-criticism.

Though that may be easier said than done, as these negative thoughts can drown out the positives at times, there are a few ways you can adjust your mindset. Mental exercises like crossword puzzles, painting, playing an instrument, or even cleaning can promote positive thoughts.

Eat Well

Mental and physical health can actually go hand in hand. The more you take care of your body, the more improved your mental health will become. Eat nutritious meals as often as possible. Be sure to include fruits and vegetables in your regular diet, and avoid junk food as much as you can (though a little splurging could help as well).

Avoid alcohol and tobacco too. Though alcohol can be acceptable in moderation, cigarettes and the addiction that comes with them can be detrimental to your mental health. Drink water and chew gum instead of taking part in these unhealthy habits.

Exercise and physical activity have been linked to reduced levels of stress and anxiety as well. While exercise is recommended anywhere from three to five days a week, even just going for a daily walk can have its benefits in increasing your mood.

Learn How to Cope

Everyone has darker days in comparison to the brighter ones. Knowing how to adequately cope with them however, is crucial. Stress is an everyday occurrence that can either serve as a mild inconvenience or an overbearing sensation that ruins your entire day. In order to prevent the latter, try taking a break from the task at hand and taking a walk, meditating, or just stepping outside for a moment. Allowing yourself to be overcome with this negative emotion can create a vicious cycle of negative thought.

Do Not Avoid Assistance

If you believe that you are actually suffering from clinical depression, bipolar disorder, or any other type of mental health disorder, do not wait to seek assistance. Consult a mental health professional to get the best treatment available. This can help you recover from these complications at a much faster rate as opposed to fighting the battle alone.

Originally published on JerryShiveley.com

Foods to Eat Ahead of Allergy Season

Originally published on JerryShiveley.com

A runny nose, scratchy throat, itchy and watery eyes are the staple of a common cold. However, they’re also symptoms of hay fever. Hay fever is what happens when the immune system reacts to the inhaled pollen from local trees, grasses, and flowers. You could obviously take over the counter medication to try and remedy the situation but that means you’ll already be suffering with the symptoms. There are ways to help prevent even getting hay fever in the first place or, at the very least, help lessen the severity of symptoms. The answer is quite simple: just eat some food.

There are certain types of food that you can avoid, such as sugar, refined carbs, vegetable and sunflower oils, and trans fats from processed foods that will get you on the right track to preparing your immune system to fight hay fever. By following an anti-inflammatory diet that’s high in antioxidants and phytonutrients from fruits and vegetables, you can counteract the inflammatory symptoms of hay fever.

Probiotics

Since hay fever irritates the immune system, consuming probiotics will help strengthen the immune system by contributing to your gut health. Some excellent products you could try are Align or Nature’s Bounty.

Essential Fatty Acids

These are considered “good fats”. These fatty acids are typically found in things like avocado, salmon, and chia seeds. Things like these also contain phenomenal anti-inflammatory properties to keep with counteracting the inflammatory symptoms of hay fever.

Ginger & Turmeric

Ginger and turmeric have been known to be quite the strong cold remedy. Now, imagine combining that with other anti-inflammatory properties. You’ve got a pretty powerful “potion” to knock the hay fever right out.

Vitamin C-Heavy Foods

These are essential to fighting hay fever. Vitamin C is known to help the immune system. Fruits like oranges, lemons, and kiwis contain a polyphenol known as quercetin. Combining the quercetin with Vitamin C boosts your immune system and contains anti allergenic properties to really stave off hay fever.

Apples

You know the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” In this case, it’s true! Apples are full of fiber antioxidants and even more of the quercetin. They are a great defense against hay fever.

By eating properly and treating your immune system with foods that help it rather than put in a precarious state that’s susceptible to hay fever, you can avoid the most severe symptoms of hay fever or even rid yourself of it entirely.

The Health Benefits of an Early Morning Routine

Getting back into the swing of things after a holiday can be difficult, especially when that involves waking early in the morning. However, if one understands the numerous benefits that come with being a morning person, perhaps developing an early morning routine wouldn’t seem so daunting.

Starting your day earlier sets you up for success. With the few hours you have before heading to work or starting a project comes better decision making skills, and ample time to mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead. Consider setting your alarm an hour or two earlier in the coming days to improve your days, and possibly your overall mood.

Though the opposite may seem true, waking up earlier can give you much more energy throughout the day. Many individuals that work in an office setting are all too familiar with the afternoon crash experienced hours before closing time. Going about your morning routine can effectively prevent this. Whether that involves making breakfast, brewing a cup of coffee, or exercising, stimulating your senses can boost creativity in the mornings, allowing you essentially “wake up” your brain for the tasks that lie ahead.

An added bonus of early morning is the time you have to yourself. When you wake up within an hour of having to be at work, you are already starting your day on a stressful note. The more time you have to mentally prep for the day and take part in our morning routine, the more relaxed you’ll be. Keep in mind that these first few hours are entirely yours. No one is asking anything of you, and you are free to do with them what you will. Try making a healthy breakfast or getting your daily workout out of the way now so that you may have more free time later in the day.

Being an early riser also translates to better sleep at night. You are more inclined to go to bed earlier, which promotes waking up earlier. It’s an extremely beneficial cycle that is created. Continuous nights of good sleep are necessary for your body’s internal clock. Having an irregular sleeping and waking schedule can have a drastic effect on both your physical and mental health.

 
No matter what your morning routine may consist of, waking up earlier and establishing everyday habits can have a profound effect on the overall quality of your day, and can possibly lead to living a longer, healthier life. It might be difficult upon starting, but once you are able to get out of bed at the crack of dawn, you’ll most likely adopt this new lifestyle permanently.

The Most Important Supplements You Should be Taking

Our health declines over time, but it does not need to. With age comes physical complications, both internal and external, and our diets play a large role in determining the speed and severity with which they are brought on. It’s difficult to eat healthy, especially when your age demands a much stricter regimen.

For older individuals, dietary supplements become a necessity. They can help fill the nutritional gaps that your diet may contain, provide your body with vitamins and minerals, and protect your immune system in ways food may not be able to. Below are some of the most important and most beneficial supplements you can add to your diet, regardless of age.

Vitamin D3

A crucial component to the development of proteins that protect your body from disease, vitamin D can build muscle, strengthen bone, and can boost the immune system in such a way that one’s odds of developing cancer are drastically reduced. However, your diet alone will not supply you with enough vitamin D to experience all of these benefits. Aside from sitting out in the sun, supplements containing this vitamin are your best chance in receiving adequate levels. Work closely with your doctor to determine how much of these supplements you should be taking, as too much can lead to vitamin D toxicityCurrent research shows that 10,000 units per day is more effective than a flu shot.

Magnesium

This is one of the most essential minerals for the human body, and can be as important as potassium or calcium. Deficiencies in magnesium can lead to constant fatigue, respiratory issues, cramps, asthma, and even heart disease. Magnesium is critical in maintaining heart health, energy levels, and white blood cell count, all of which can contribute to an overall healthier body.

Luckily, there are plenty of foods you can introduce to your regular diet that provide sufficient levels of magnesium. Those include bananas, spinach, fish, quinoa, and much more, but adding these is easier said than done. Magnesium supplements can help greatly in filling this gap. However, like any dietary supplement, you should consult your doctor before taking these, as other medications can react poorly when combined with magnesium pills, and too much can negatively affect your bowels, digestive system, and blood pressure.

Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids are some of the most important components in good health, and no supplements are more abundant in these than fish oil pills. These can help prevent inflammation, boost your immune system, increase the production of keratin (benefitting your hair and nails), and even sharpen your memory.

Most people understand the health benefits that come with eating seafood, but not every type of fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids. As you may have guessed, fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and trout, are the the types of fish you should strive to eat. It can be difficult getting sufficient amounts of these acids through eating fish alone, as you’ll want to consume these types of fish regularly. Fish oil pills can help supply your body with omega-3, and effectively avoid some of the potential hazards that come with eating too much fish, i.e. pesticides, metals, and other contaminants. Be sure to use purified pharmaceutical grade omega 3 oil free from heavy metals.