Everyone has heard that a lying tongue, hands that shed blood and a false witness are three of the seven deadly sins found in Proverbs 6. Just as there are “spiritual” sins, there are sins we commit against our bodies. I am going to discuss the seven deadly sins that people commit everyday. By sins I really mean “mistakes,” or in other words things that we do to impede our own health. We have come to understand that these seven deadly sins, or mistakes are bad habits. Whatever you wish to call it, it doesn’t matter because the end result is the same.
Dr. Breslow, a researcher from Alameda County, California followed the health habits of a group of 7,000 people over the course of thirty years, and found that the more a person engaged in these seven sins (mistakes, habits) the more likely they were to die within ten years. Or, if they happened to live, they lived with chronic disability.
Lets examine these deadly sins right now:
*lack of exercise
*drinking too much alcohol
*sleeping too much, or too little
*eating large amounts of food between meals
The study found that a combination of these “sins” could double a persons risk of dying prematurely. In the journal of Preventive Medicine, Dr. Breslow, professor emeritus at the School of Public Health of the University of California at Los Angeles claims that even when these practices don’t lead to early death they still increase the risk of contracting a physical or medical limitation that impedes the quality of [later] life.
Dr. Breslow also wrote “With people of the United States now living typically into their 70’s and 80’s, the personal and social importance of maintaining health into the later years is mounting.” It seems that people are increasingly more concerned now than ever on how to avoid disability during their longer lives.
The problem is how do we teach our young children to care now about what will happen to them later? Are parents and schools doing enough to teach these important principles? It seems that we send our children to school to learn the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, and off to church to glean spiritual insight, but what are they learning about the true wealth, which is enduring health? Without a long life of health what difference does a Masters Degree make? I suppose it is a matter of opinion and perspective, but I would be willing to bet that the amount of money made over the course of a lifetime would have been willingly traded for superior health. The problem is people don’t know this now, until it happens to them later.
I research America’s trends of health and some of the studies seem promising, and it seems as if Americans are getting more health conscious. Fast food restaurants have had to provide lists of ingredients and calories, and they are now providing smaller portions. Some schools have been implementing nutritional training and providing more fresh fruits and vegetables in salad bars. For those schools that provide physical education daily, they are to be complimented. I wonder about the schools that only provide one year of mandatory physical education? When I was a child in the 60’s and 70’s we had physical education everyday.
The promising stories of health consciousness are coming up when I research it, but what I see with my own eyes tell a different story. As I look around, I don’t see any fewer fast food restaurants, and when I drive by I still notice long lines. Everywhere I turn I see people puffing on a cigarettes, and I wonder if I am living in a Twilight Zone, I mean people do know it causes lung cancer don’t they? Young people are still talking about “getting drunk” at some party somewhere. When I go to the store, everywhere I look I see aisles upon aisles of junk and processed foods. I don’t have to look far to see young people getting diabetes and other degenerative diseases.
Somehow there is a disconnect between what we know and what we do, and I am amazed at the amount of people who will knowingly keep making these same mistakes over and over, and yet when they finally get a chronic disease condition they will act surprised, and then they will get somebody at church to pray for them and expect the Almighty to cure them. This is the time that they will suddenly care and start living the principles of health, which is good but not good enough. We need to care before we get sick and suffer from degenerative disease. Fortunately, starting to care about your health later is better than never, and some conditions can be turned around, at least partially.
Two other things I’ve witnessed with my own eyes are people who stay up all hours of the night, I mean way early into the morning. I thought young people only did that, and I am finding that middle aged people are still engaging in this bad habit. It is hard for me to make friends with these people because they sleep in half the day, and then they are ready to “visit” and party half of the night. I notice how tired they are, and I know how hard it is to change a habit.
Time magazine recently did an article on those who abuse prescription drugs, people who love a “high” more than they love their kidneys. Why don’t they care about the disastrous side-effects of the drugs on their bodies? How can we teach someone to love themself? Yes, we are a generation of people who have knowledge at our fingertips, but what good is knowledge if we aren’t willing to change when the truth is presented?
Dr. Breslow said “People do not choose their health habits in a vacuum; rather, they are strongly influenced by their social environment.” So, as much as things might change, some things stay the same.
Our children are more influenced by the things we do rather than the things we say. It is more likely that our children will do what we do, rather than do what we say.
They say it takes twenty-one days to change a bad habit, and as far as our health goes we must remember that regularity in ones living habits seems to be important to health and longevity. Changing a habit is never an easy task, but I can guarantee that if you make the decision today to change your habits for tomorrow, that in a few short years you will be glad that you did.
www.timemagazine.com August edition