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think about the common sense things you can do to live a healthier life

Common Sense for Living a Healthier Life

  blog post author icon   blog post published date icon   07/23/20

Disease  Exercise  Nutrition  Supplements  Technology  

An estimated 95 percent of the world's population suffers from some type of medical condition according to recent reports from the healthcare sector. More than a third live with as many as five simultaneous health issues.1 At the same time, one in four people currently suffer from a mental illness, and this number is expected to increase during the years to come.

Despite advances in healthcare and accessibility to it over the last century, physical and mental health issues are becoming more prevalent with each passing year. Reports show the number of people living with depression and anxiety has more than doubled in the last decade alone. Cases of chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and cancer are surging.

Chronic diseases are responsible for an estimated 70 percent of deaths in America.2 Experts expect at least half the people in America to develop some type of chronic illness within the next five years. Perhaps even worse is the fact that the majority of these conditions are preventable or can at least be delayed with the right measures.

Digging Deeper into the Current Health Crisis

Ongoing research is being conducted to find out the reasons behind the uptick in serious illnesses and chronic conditions. Some say it's nothing more than a matter of more cases being reported than in years past. Most believe there's more to it than that, though. In fact, many studies show that what we're putting into our bodies could be the true cause of the rising health crisis.

Starting with the Basics

It's no secret that eating healthy foods helps prevent any number of physical illnesses from the common cold to diabetes and even certain types of cancer. In 1826, French author, politician, and food aficionado, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin coined the phrase, "You are what you eat." This link between nutrition and wellness actually dates back much further, though. Now, let's take a look at an interesting correlation between foods and chronic medical conditions.

Processed foods began their rise to fame in 1910.3 Since then, they've been becoming ever more popular and readily available. They're also filled with additives and offer little nutritional value.

By the 1940s, farmers were using modified fertilizers and growing techniques to increase their crop yields, but those methods detracted from the vitamins and minerals in their fruits and vegetables. During the 1950s, fast food restaurants were cropping up across the nation, and processed convenience foods were becoming ever more prevalent.

Few people don't fall back on processed items, packaged snacks, and fast food from time to time. After all, they're tasty and convenient, so they fit in nicely with today's fast-paced lifestyles. They're also affordable when compared with the prices of organic produce, grass-fed meats, and other healthier alternatives.

Still, there's a reason for the increase in health issues since those options hit the market. They fill our bodies with fat, empty calories, preservatives, artificial colors, and an endless list of other potentially harmful elements.4 At the same time, they fall well short of the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals. This, alone, is at least partially responsible for the growing number of physical health problems, but it's only the tip of the iceberg.

A Surge in Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues are on the rise as well though reports vary on the specific numbers. That being said, the number of young people ages 12 to 17 who suffer from depression and other mental disorders has soared from less than 7 percent just a few years ago to more than 13 percent.5 Less than half of those who suffer from depression and anxiety receive the treatment they need.

While depression and anxiety are typically considered emotional or biochemical disorders, negative past experiences and chemical imbalances aren't the only causes of these conditions. Poor diet is also a leading factor6. More specifically, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and insufficient omega-3 fatty acid intake are the primary factors in mental illnesses according to many recent reports.

Some studies show that simple measures like taking daily supplements can decrease the risk of developing many of the common mental disorders. Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, so it has been found quite effective in thwarting depression.

Vitamin B complexes and supplements that contain folate may be helpful as well. Several amino acids that are ultimately converted into neurotransmitters by the body also help people recover from depressive episodes more quickly.

Looking beyond the Foods We Eat

We've established that nutrition plays a major role in our health. Of course, the surging instances of mental illnesses and chronic medical conditions go well beyond what we eat or fail to as the case may be. Certain other substances can also have a negative impact on well-being.

Alcohol

Alcohol is a prime example. Based on one report, the amount of alcohol consumed in the United States has increased by as much as 70 percent over the last 30 years7. This latest uptick mainly applies to women, the elderly, certain minority groups, and people with low income. Teenagers are included as well.

Alcohol certainly harms the body over time. Studies show excessive alcohol consumption can lead to poor circulation, heart disease, digestive issues, and gum disease to name a few.8 It can also cause temporary or permanent nerve damage while increasing the risk of osteoporosis and certain types of cancer. Alcohol damages the immune system as well.

On top of all those problems, alcohol is known to heighten the symptoms of anxiety and depression because it affects the areas of the brain that help regulate mood and response to stressful situations.9 While many people turn to alcohol as a form of self-medication or escape from depression and anxiety, it can actually make these conditions worse over time. Since this substance inhibits the body's ability to absorb and break down nutrients, the effects are doubly harmful for those with poor dietary habits.

Smoking

In the beginning, cigarettes consisted of little more than dried tobacco. In 1970, though, manufacturers began adding numerous other chemicals to the mix. More than 500 additives have come to light over the years, many of which are far more harmful than tobacco and nicotine.

Some of the dangerous chemicals now being added to cigarettes are designed to mask the smell of smoke while others increase their addictiveness, which encourages people to smoke more. At the same time, certain chemicals are even added to tobacco to essentially reduce the negative physical effects of smoking. Of course, they don't really counteract the harmful impact; they only make the effects less noticeable for a short time.

Reports show some of the chemicals being added to cigarettes are the same compounds found in hair dye, embalming fluid, batteries, paint, nail polish remover, rat poison, and household cleaners. Components of lighter fluid, gasoline, and rocket fuel are present as well.10 In light of all this, it's no surprise that smoking causes numerous health issues.

Smoking is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer cases. It's also a leading factor in stroke, heart disease, COPD, gum disease, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes mellitus, arthritis, and decreased immunity. Cigarettes and all their unhealthy additives have also been linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer outside the lungs, including the bladder, stomach, throat, liver, and pancreas.11

Social Media and Its Role in Declining Health

Unhealthy foods and other substances are abundant these days, but they're not the only factors contributing to the decline in physical and mental health. Relationships play a major role here as well. In many cases, online connections are the most harmful because they only show part of the bigger picture.

Though most people believe social media helps people stay connected to their friends and relatives, it may be having the opposite effect. Many people who spend excessive amounts of time on social media actually report feeling more isolated. It also leads to a fear of missing out and poor self-image.

In turn, it's causing a significant increase in depression, anxiety, and OCD among other problems.5,12 For those who feel inadequate about their lives or appearances because of what they see on social media, it can also lead to unhealthy eating habits and all the physical health issues that come along with them. Though social media can certainly help people remain up to date on current events and maintain connections with friends, it's not necessarily a positive element.

Sedentary Lifestyles Lead to Unhealthy Living

Failing to eat healthy foods and putting dangerous substances into our bodies leads to numerous physical and mental issues. Social media and harmful relationships don't help the matter, either. Countless studies show that a lack of physical activity can be equally detrimental.

Exercise offers bountiful benefits.13 At the most basic level, increasing your physical activity burns fat and calories, which helps with weight management. It also improves blood flow, cardiovascular health, immunity, balance, coordination, and brain function.

Physical activity can also reduce the risk of developing diabetes, some types of cancer, and heart disease among numerous other health issues. It increases the production of serotonin, the feel-good hormone, as well, so it can help combat anxiety and depression. On top of all that, exercise can go a long way toward getting your mind off of cigarettes, alcohol, social media, and stress if any of those happen to be issues in your life.

Surrounding Yourself with Healthy Alternatives

These days, staying away from unhealthy elements and focusing on the positive isn't exactly easy. We're surrounded by unwholesome foods, negativity, harmful substances that mask themselves as helpful tools, and countless other issues. They're largely responsible for the ongoing increase in physical and mental health problems.

You can take several steps to improve your health on many levels. Though there's no harm in indulging in unhealthy foods occasionally, they shouldn't be the go-to option. Gradually replace them with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and other nutritious alternatives whenever possible, and add vitamin supplements to your diet. Consider leaving alcohol, cigarettes, and other harmful substances out of your life entirely.

Be sure to exercise regularly even if it's only a brisk walk around the block. If social media is causing issues in your life, back away from it. Eliminate or minimize harmful, unhealthy relationships whether they're online or in-person. Strive to gradually replace unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones. You might be surprised at how much better you feel from virtually every perspective.

Citations:
1 More than 95% of the World's Population Has Health Problems: Lancet, https://food.ndtv.com/health/over-95-percent-of-worlds-population-have-health-issues-lancet-769764
2 An Empirical Study of Chronic Diseases in the United States: A Visual Analytics Approach to Public Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5876976/
3 Modern Pioneer Mom, Processed Foods History: 1910s to 1950s, https://modernpioneermom.com/2012/07/05/processed-foods-history-1910s-to-1950s/
4 The Many Health Risks of Processed Foods, https://www.lhsfna.org/index.cfm/lifelines/may-2019/the-many-health-risks-of-processed-foods/
5 Mental Health Issues Increased Significantly in Young Adults over Last Decade https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190315110908.htm
6 Understanding Nutrition, Depression and Mental Illnesses, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/
7 Medical News Today, Global Alcohol Intake Has Increased by 70%, Study Warns, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325135#Steep-increase-in-alcohol-consumption
8 7 Things Drinking Alcohol Does to Your Body, https://www.conehealth.com/services/behavioral-health/7-things-drinking-alcohol-does-to-your-body/
9 Alcohol and Mental Health, https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/mental-health/alcohol-and-mental-health
10 What's in a Cigarette? https://www.lung.org/quit-smoking/smoking-facts/whats-in-a-cigarette
11 CDC, Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking, https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/index.htm
12 HelpGuide, Social Media and Mental Health, https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/social-media-and-mental-health.htm
13 Medline Plus, Benefits of Exercise, https://medlineplus.gov/benefitsofexercise.html

headshot of Jay Todtenbier 2018
Author

Jay Todtenbier is an original founder of SupplementRelief.com in 2010 and has operated the business ever since. He is also a tennis instructor and gospel musician. Formerly he spent 25 years in business development, technology and marketing with startups and major corporations having gone through the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the 90s. He became passionate about, and began studying and practicing Wellness as a Lifestyle after experiencing chronic, personal health challenges including depression, auto-immune disorders, and being overweight that impacted his ability to live a healthy, vibrant life. Since then, he has been an advocate for healthier living encouraging others to live better through making small, gradual changes to lifestyle behaviors relating to whole-foods nutrition, stress management, reasonable exercise, proper sleep, and the use of targeted, high-quality supplements.

Learn more about Jay Todtenbier.

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