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Everyday Health: How Do You Rate?

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THE DAILY HABITS YOU SHOULD RECONSIDER IF YOU WANT TO BE TRULY HEALTHY. BONNIE VAUGHAN INVESTIGATES.

Have you ever wondered how risky your nightly wine habit really is, or if you should take more time off between workouts? We asked the experts just how worried – or not – you really should be about some everyday habits.

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YOU SKIP WASHING YOUR HANDS AFTER GOING TO THE TOILET OR PATTING THE DOG.

VERDICT : VERY BAD

“If you don’t wash your hands after going to the toilet you can make yourself and others sick by passing on microbes that cause ‘gastro’and respiratory-type infections – and in the very young and very old, these infections can be deadly.

Those microbes will also be transferred to the surfaces you touch, like door handles, and can then pose an infection risk for the next person who touches them.

As for the family pet, you don’t always know what Fluffy has recently sniffed, licked or rolled in, so especially before eating you should wash your hands.”

– Dr Meredith Hughes, senior lecturer in the Department of Microbiology at Monash University.

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YOU DON’T USE SUNSCREEN EVERYDAY

VERDICT : NOT TOO BAD

“If you’re the type who burns easily then you’re at greater risk of skin cancer than someone who tans very easily. It also depends on your activities – whether you’re out in the sun for long periods of time or just for incidental day-to-day exposure, such as walking to and from the train stop or driving to work.

The main thing to remember is that it’s all about cumulative sun exposure – if you do it on a regular basis it will all be adding up. I recommend using a broad spectrum sunscreen of 50+ if you’re out in the sun, but for those day-to-day activities using a 15+ with your moisturiser is fine.”

– Dr Andrew Ming, dermatologist

YOU DISCOVER YOUR FRIEND HASN’T VACCINATED HER KIDS AFTER YOUR KIDS HAVE PLAYED WITH HERS.

VERDICT : NOT BAD

“There’s no point in worrying about it. All you can do is look out for signs in your child of whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella or chickenpox – those are the main conditions unvaccinated children are at risk of having that could be passed to your children. It shouldn’t be a problem if they have been vaccinated, but take them to the doctor without delay if you notice any symptoms.

The occasional interaction is nothing to be alarmed about – the bigger worry is grandparents or aunties and uncles – people who are cuddling and getting affectionate with your children on a regular basis. Many vaccines fade over time.”

– Dr Ginni Mansberg, GP

YOU DRINK TWO TO YOUR GLASSES OF WINE DAILY

VERDICT : BAD

“Alcohol consumption contributes to cancers in the liver, neck, bowel and breast. And your risk rises with increasing consumption, starting at zero. While drinking two standard drinks each day (the equivalent to two 100ml glasses of wine) is considered to have a low risk, the more alcohol you consume over time, the higher your risk of developing an alcoholrelated cancer, as well as other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, liver cirrhosis and pancreatitis.

Whether you drink regularly each day or have the same amount per week but only drink at weekends does not change that risk, and nor does the type of alcohol you drink.”

– Professor Ian Olver, director of the Sansom Institute for Health Research

CLEANING

YOU USE CLEANING PRODUCTS CONTAINING CHEMICALS THAT YOU THINK MIGHT BE TOXIC.

VERDICT : NOT BAD

“If you read the labels on products like detergents, surface sprays, toilet cleaners and disinfectants and use them the way they’re intended, they’re very safe. But you shouldn’t overuse them. If you use anything to excess, you’re flushing lots of chemicals down our waterways and into the environment. You also end up destroying the good bacteria along with the bad, which can produce strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

Of course, it’s important to clean your kitchen and bathroom on a routine basis, but you don’t need to be obsessed with killing every last germ in your home – a little bacteria is fine.”

– Dr Christopher Thompson, associate dean at the School of Chemistry, Monash University

YOU TAKE ANTIBIOTICS EVERY TIME YOU GET A BAD COLD OR FLU

VERDICT : PRETTY BAD

“Antibiotic overuse helps breed bacteria that can no longer be killed by antibiotics. Overuse happens when you take antibiotics when you don’t have a bacterial infection. This means normal bacteria that are not causing any problems become unnecessarily exposed to antibiotics.

There’s a greater chance that some bacteria will adapt and keep growing in the presence of antibiotics, becoming antibiotic-resistant. These bacteria can then share their resistant properties with other bacteria and spread to the community. If the resistant bacteria cause an infection, antibiotics may no longer work.”

– Dr Mark Blaskovich, senior research chemist at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience

sport girl

YOU DON’T TAKE A DAY OFF BETWEEN STRENGTH TRAINING SESSIONS.

VERDICT : BAD

“Your muscles absolutely require rest and recovery time between workouts. Training your entire body more than twice a week will likely result in loss of lean muscle tissue due to inadequate repair, lethargy, loss of strength, inflammation
and ultimately, injury.

Ideally, I’d recommend strength training either two days on and one day off (for example, Monday and Tuesday, then rest on Wednesday), or every second day (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). But if you choose to train every day, you need to devise a split routine, where each muscle group is only worked a maximum of twice a week – and not on consecutive days.

– Donna Aston, fitness trainer

YOU EAT SHORTLY BEFORE GOING TO BED

VERDICT : NOT BAD

“Not all food has the same impact on the body, so some foods can affect sleep more than others. Eating any foods full of refined sugar before bed can spike your blood sugar levels, causing glucose irregularities during the night that can interrupt sleep. That means not having meals using bottled sauces, no white rice or white bread, and no soft drinks, sweet desserts or chocolate.

If you must eat late, aim for a serve of protein such as chicken, fish or eggs – these contain tryptophan, an amino acid used to make melatonin, the hormone which sets our sleep cycle and helps us fall asleep. And have some low-starch vegetables such as broccoli, carrots or leafy greens.”

– Zoe Bingley-Pullin, nutritionist

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