Written by Sue Thearle
Sue is a TV presenter who has worked in sport and news for BBC News and BBC Sport, ITV, Sky Sports, BBC Radio 5 Live and Setanta. She is also an award-winning print journalist.
Everyone has bad habits from overdoing it on the booze to watching fantastically mindless, trashy TV. But although some things might seem like a hard habit to break, there are often really good health reasons why we should stop. So with that in mind, here’s our top 8 worst habits that really need to go.
This is one of the classic New Year resolutions that so many people make and yet so many fail to break. Research has consistently highlighted just why smoking is bad for you. Cancer, heart disease and long-term respiratory problems are just some of the health risks associated with the habit. It kills over 100,000 in the UK annually and over 400,000 in the USA. And it’s anti-social. So go on. Say no to nicotine.
When you wake up with a hangover, it’s a fairly common reaction to ponder the point of over-indulging on the alcohol front. But as well as adding pounds we don’t need in areas we don’t need them, too much alcohol can lead to a stroke, cardiac arrest, liver problems and heart issues. Indeed a recent study at University College London found that almost half of adults in the UK are binge drinkers. Time to hit the wagon huh?
Too much caffeine
Nothing beats that first cup of tea or coffee in the morning to beat the bleary eyes, but could you live without it? Although we might think of the USA as the coffee capital of the world, Europeans consume more caffeine than anyone, with the UK 15th in the world charts. Too much caffeine accelerates the heart rate and leads to insomnia, headaches and irritability. That said it can have a beneficial effect on fat-burning and exercise, so why not think about limiting your intake instead.
Practically everyone has had the munchies after a night out and succumbed to a kebab or a burger and chips. The trouble is, that kind of food is full of empty calories. That means your body can’t effectively convert junk food into anything other than fat. So eat before you go out and salmon makes for the perfect pre-party evening meal. Not only is it an amazing source of protein, but it also contains all sorts of other benefits such as omega-3 fatty acids, which improve cardiovascular health and reduce inflammation throughout the body. Protein also lessens the effects of alcohol, as it takes a long time for your body to digest and minimises alcohol absorption.
Yes they taste good but no, they aren’t good for you. Apart from their teeth-rotting potential, fizzy drinks are packed with sugar, calories and caffeine. There are 139 calories in a can of Coca Cola, which is 14% of a woman’s recommended daily allowance. So yes, have one as an occasional treat, but come on, have a healthy fruit smoothie instead and radiate vitality and a Hollywood smile.
Too much technology
Research has shown recently that children’s thumbs are actually getting bigger because of the amount of time they spend texting and on tablets/android technology. We all do it, check our phones and tablets and play pointless computer games when we could be outdoors getting some fresh air. So ditch the technology. Angry Birds can wait. A gorgeous sunset can’t.
Vegging out in front of the TV
According to a Belgian study, people can consume up to 71% more food when they watch TV. When you do the maths that means that if you watch more than 19 hours of TV a week (and it adds up very quickly), you suddenly have a whopping 97% chance of being overweight. As if that wasn’t bad enough, TV isn’t great for engaging the brain either. Why? Because researchers at Case Western Reserve University discovered that for every hour beyond 80 minutes you watch, your risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases by 30%. Wow. Time to read a book and do something active in the evenings.
Late night eating
Eating late at night is a sure fire way to pile on the pounds. US researchers have discovered that our internal organs have a body clock, which means they are more effective at certain times of the day than others. So, if you eat late at night, when the liver and intestines are not at their peak intensity, you could be asking for trouble and a bigger waistline.