Those of us who are health conscious will go out of our way to avoid damaging our health in a range of ways and will of course aim to avoid any activities that might put our health at risk. Often though it isn’t the big things that are the worst for us or the things that are easy to spot and avoid – rather the things that get to us are the ‘silent killers’ that are all around us and that we don’t tend to give a moment’s thought. Here we will look at some of the most common detriments to our health that we often ignore at our peril…
The air we breathe is what sustains life, but it can also be harmful to it in a large number of ways. One of the most significant ways that unclean air can damage our health is through the bacteria content and there are thousands of microscopic bacteria in even the cleanest of air. Some of these cause illness and this is the cause of airborne diseases like the common cold. More often though, this bacteria is just enough to suppress our immune systems – as our immune systems are busy fighting off all these different minor attacks, they are weakened and tired meaning they become less able to defend against more serious threats and less able to help us repair our bodies.
It’s not just bacteria in the air that causes problems though. Car exhaust and smoke outside contain free radicals for instance which can accelerate ageing and increase your chances of developing lung cancer, while mould spores can cause asthma and eczema as well as bombarding the immune system further.
What can you do about this? Well choosing to live in a more rural area – preferably near the sea – can make a huge difference. More conveniently installing air conditioning and an air cleaner, keeping your home clean and maintaining the right moisture levels and temperature in your air can all help.
Of course an unhealthy diet is going to shorten your lifespan and if you’re eating lots of fats and carbs then you’ll clog up your arteries and make harder work for your heart in getting the blood and oxygen around your body. Exercising and cutting the calories can help this.
More subtly though, free radicals can also damage your cells resulting in faster ageing and a greater risk of cancer. You should try to combat this by looking out for foods with a particularly high free radical content, and by eating antioxidants which can undo some of the damage. One of the very best antioxidants is ‘resveratrol’ which is found in red grapes as this can also help to strengthen the mitochondria which serve as ‘shields’ for your cells and provide your body with energy. Not quite the fountain of youth, but nearly!
Stress is a very serious problem and one that we often don’t give enough respect. If you work in a very stressed environment, or if you have a lot of stressors that you deal with in your home life, then this will also take its toll on your body through raised blood pressure and an accelerated heart rate as well as cortisol production. Stress can not only make life miserable in the short term and make you more likely to become ill, but in the long run this constantly excited state can result in an earlier death.
To combat stress you should of course look at the causes of it in your daily life and find ways you can make life a little more bearable. If that means changing jobs, or perhaps ending a bad relationship, then you should put your health first and do so. Meanwhile developing better coping methods can also help – so look into learning meditative techniques or seeing a cognitive behavioural therapist to help keep your heart rate low and your mood chipper.
The sun is very good for us in small doses, but if you’re getting too much of it then it will start to damage your skin and potentially lead to cancer. The answer here is obvious – don’t be a sun worshipper (if you must work on your tan then use a tanning moisturiser or spray tan) and make sure that you wear sun block when you go out in it.
Xavier Symonds is the author of today’s guest post. He is the owner of AirPure, a company which deals with designing systems for air pollution control. With the increase in pollution, he believes that lifespans have started reducing and has given some useful measures to overcome it in today’s article.