The top road block to overall good health is smoking. It's the leading cause of cancers of the lung, mouth, sinus, throat, esophagus, stomach, kidneys and more. Serious diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, arterial sclerosis, and strokes are also caused or exacerbated by smoking. It can raise your cholesterol and your blood glucose levels. If you have diabetes and you smoke, your risk for heart and circulatory damage goes way up, and diabetic complications can progress with more devastating effects.
2. Fast Food and Processed Foods
Fast food and processed foods pack a calorie and fat wallop.
A fast food burger and medium fries has 650 calories and 32 fat grams. A homemade burger, made with 95 percent lean ground beef, with oven-baked fries, has 418 calories and 8 fat grams. Making your own burger and fries saves you 212 calories and 24 fat grams.
Also, a store-brand chocolate chip cookie has 136 calories and 6.4 fat grams, while a homemade chocolate chip cookie using a low-fat recipe is 65 calories and 2.3 fat grams. A homemade cookies saves you 71 calories and 4.1 fat grams per cookie.
3. Not Getting Your "Five a Day"
Eat more fruits and vegetables. The USDA recommends at least 5 servings a day for health. Getting more of these nutrients may reduce risk for Type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases. A diet rich in vegetables and fruits gives your body the nutrition it needs to function properly. Fruits and vegetables are naturally lower in calories and sugar and higher in fiber than processed foods and are helpful for weight loss.
4. The Fiberless American Diet
The typical American diet is woefully devoid of fiber. Getting more fiber is very beneficial in many ways. Foods high in fiber take longer to digest and keep blood glucose from spiking. Fiber also keeps you full longer and helps you stay regular. Experts recommend 25-50 grams of fiber a day. That's a lot of fiber. The new high fiber cereals and snack bars may help you reach that goal. Just watch the sugar content of these products. Sometimes it can be quite high. Drink plenty of water when you increase your fiber intake, to help move things along.
5. A Sedentary Lifestyle
Getting more exercise will lower your blood glucose levels and improve your circulatory health, and it will help you lose weight by burning more calories. It keeps you more flexible, more mentally alert, and increases energy.
Try to exercise more on a regular basis. Park farther away from stores. Walk around the mall and window shop. Don't use the TV remote control. Dance to music while you're housecleaning. I've done it. You might want to make sure there's no one else home when you break out the Shakira CD. Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine.