Warning, this will involve numbers and statistics. I know that most of us have sworn off health stats after suffering through math class, but some figures are too important to ignore.
These health stats could help you to live a longer and happier life, but you need to buck these scary trends.
Here is the first of the troubling health stats. A 500ml soft drink can contain 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar.
Incredible, isn’t it?
Red Bull, Gatorade and many drinks you buy in a bottle, excluding water and milk, have roughly that amount of sugar or some sugary substitute.
That’s from The Harvard School of Public Health, a very reputable source. They did a report on where sugar is hiding in our diet.
Let’s face it, 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar is not great for any diet.
But, I am afraid there is an even worse aspect.
That Harvard report also says that amount of sugar once a day is enough to raise your diabetes risk by 26 per cent and your heart attack risk by 20 per cent.
So if you drink these regularly then being fat and diabetic is around the corner and a heart attack is waiting for you.
Here is an idea, ditch the sugary drinks.
1. Shopping Health Stats
While I have your attention, here is the next stat. You probably spend more time shopping than exercising.
If you are the average person, you spend just 25 minutes moving your body and 36 minutes every day buying stuff, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
I get that a lot of people don’t like exercise. We all know we should, but we don’t.
Have you considered that physical activity is amongst your best defences against heart disease and several types of cancer?
If so, then you should figure on swapping a few of the minutes you spend on Amazon or eBay for more time in the gym.
So now you have ditched the sugary drinks and are exercising too. What else?
If you are between 25 and 64, you are more likely to die of a drug overdose than a car accident. This from another reputable source, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
2. Opioid Health Stats
It seems ridiculous that drug overdoses are that much of a problem. However, drug overdose deaths are up 117 per cent since 1999.
And prescription drugs are usually to blame. The most common culprits of accidental drug overdose are opioids and benzodiazepines.
These are prescription medications typically used to treat pain, anxiety, and insomnia.
But I thought all prescription medications were safe to use? However, pretty much every medication creates an unwanted side effect in the body.
The smart advice is if you have been prescribed opioids or benzos, take them only as directed.
And it is advised to take them for as short a period of time as possible, or you may be putting your life on the line.
3. Food Health Stats
Time for another stat, the average person spends just 17 minutes a day on food prep and cleanup.
It would be wonderful to think that is because we are just really efficient. But we would be kidding ourselves.
Every nutrition expert will tell you preparing your own meals with fresh ingredients is paramount to eating a healthy diet.
This reduced time spent on food prep is a shift to eating more takeaways and fast food. And if you want to stay free from disease and slim, steer clear of fast food and spend more time fixing your own grub.
So, now your diet is transformed as we are now dropping the takeaways and the fizzy drinks.
4. GOT Health Stats
When we consider the average person, it turns out they watch more than 3 hours of TV a day. I hear the Game of Thrones fan asking, ‘So what?’
There are so many television-viewing stats thrown around that they may just bounce off your brain. But really think about that number.
That’s 21 hours or almost one full day a week spent doing an unproductive activity. An unproductive activity? Blasphemy you say!
Shave your TV habit by just 60 minutes a day, and think of all you could accomplish with that extra hour.
A study from Columbia University shows more than 2/3 rds of people take less than 20 minutes to finish dinner.
You might ask, ‘What difference does that make?’
People who eat quickly are 84 per cent more likely to be obese than slower-eaters.
There is a large body of research that shows it takes your stomach at least 20 minutes to alert your brain that it’s full.
5. Health Stats To Chew On
Considering those numbers, it means most of us eat so quickly that we do not give our stomachs a chance to tell our brains that we are full. That means a lot of overeating.
As a suggestion, why not slow down and enjoy your food? The benefit is that you will eat less and feel just as satisfied.
As part of your plan, think that the healthy meal that you cooked at home now gets eaten slowly.
Of all the meals that we eat in a day, one stands out as the most important. But, at least 25 per cent of people skip breakfast.
I couldn’t believe that stat from the market research firm NPD Group. Especially as my mum and probably yours too told me that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
6. Thanks Mum
And Mums are right, at least on this one. Study after study associates eating breakfast with slimmer waistlines.
Eating a good breakfast curbs food consumption later in the day, especially when it comes to sugary treats. And we can thank the University of Missouri for that.
And other research suggests that a morning meal may signal to your body to dump fat, as opposed to storing it.
If you want a good breakfast, aim for lots of protein. Again from those nutritionally-wise people at the University of Missouri.
Many people commute as part of their day. But how much time does the average person spend driving?
People spend an average of 101 minutes a day driving, finds research from the University of California, Berkeley.
7. The Daily Grind
And that is part of many people’s daily grind, but there is a hidden downside to that commute. Your time behind the wheel, especially in traffic, is one of the most common sources of stress.
In fact, a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology showed that city driving is as stressful as skydiving.
We all know that life itself is stressful. Most of us accept that we just have to get on with it.
However, stress reduces your immune function, encourages the spread of cancer, and expands your waistline.
That combines to makes driving one of your unhealthiest habits.
Realistically, I have no other options. You could consider biking or walking when you can.
To say that I am not a fan of smoking is an understatement. I have a sibling who started smoking at 16 and has never been able to stop.
This despite spending the first five minutes after waking coughing up phlegm and having a portion of their vocal cords removed due to oesophageal cancer.
My telling you this raises many questions. And I will deal with this subject, in depth, in a later post.
For now, I will leave you with one thought. You can only help someone that wants to be helped.
You might have the abilities to fix it, to remove their pain. If the other person does not want your help, if they do not want to make that change, then it won’t work.
And it can be heartbreaking.
8. Smoking Health Stats
Everyone knows how awful smoking is for our health, so I am stunned that 1 in 4 people between the ages of 25 and 44 smokes.
And we have known that smoking is harmful to our health for decades.
So what makes people defy common sense and engage in a behaviour that is so damaging to their health?
I accept the addictive qualities of smoking, but why start in the first place?
The last health stat is quite sad. About a quarter of all people have zero close friends to confide in, shows a Duke University study.
9. Friendliness Health Stats
Decades of sociological research show every new generation is more friendless than the last, especially as middle age sets in.
We are evolving to be loners.
And being friendless is a big deal. Because strong social support is better for your health than almost anything else.
And we might dismiss the effect of being ‘Billy No Mates’. But you do so at your own peril.
A study by Brigham Young University found social isolation has a worse effect on your life expectancy than obesity.
And it is not just worse, it is roughly twice as bad for your life expectancy as obesity.
So we all need friends. But is there an optimum number of friends for you to stay healthy?
Stats from Oxford University suggests you need at least two to three close friends for optimal health.
Before you lapse into Start Trek mode after all those stats and facts…as Mr Spock would say, “Live long and prosper.” I would like to provide a thought as your virtual mentor.
Why not invite some casual friends over for a home-cooked meal? Then walk to the store to get the groceries. When they arrive, you ditch the fizzy drinks and television for the evening while you eat at a leisurely pace and chat.
Who fancies dinner? I am cooking.