8 things that may be making you sick and you don’t even know it

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Jorge Camilo Mora, M.D., M.P.H.

Staying healthy can be a challenge. Enemies of good health are all around us—germs, pollution, stress. But there are many other health risks that are not as obvious.

Dr. Jorge Camilo Mora, a family and geriatric medicine specialist and associate professor at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, says: “There are many things that may be making you sick, and you don’t even know it.”

Here are eight culprits with Dr. Mora’s suggestions on avoiding and/or reducing your risk.

1. Blue light
Blue light has a dark side. At night, blue light can disrupt your sleep cycle. Avoid looking at bright electronic screens (cellphones, tablets, computer screens) two to three hours before bed.  Use blue light blocking glasses/filters and red lights for night lights.

2. Endocrine Disruptors
That intoxicating ‘new car’ smell is phthalates, one of many common substances that can mimic hormones in your body and cause developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune problems. Try to avoid or reduce your exposure to plastics, pesticides and fragrances.

3. Cellphones
Having trouble remembering cell phone numbers, birthdays, directions? The brain is a muscle that needs exercise. Using cell phones to look up everything is creating issues with our working memory. Cellphones also can produce anxiety by creating a fear of missing calls or texts. And the constant access to news reports, often bad news, can lead to depression.

4. Heavy metals
Heavy metals are everywhere from foods to the environment. They are linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes, obesity and dementia.

Did you know that overindulging in brazil nuts can cause selenium toxicity? Tuna and other large fish contain the most mercury. Tiny sardines, not so much. Rice, especially brown rice, contains arsenic. Try to avoid these toxins as much as you can.

5. Disruption of circadian rhythm
Messing with your internal bodily clock can cause sleep and mental disorders, and obesity. Studies show that if you work at night you have a higher risk of diabetes, cancer and cognitive issues. Also, dieters lose more weight by eating during the day than at night.

6. Social media
From FOMO (fear of missing out) to cyberbullying to feelings of inadequacy, spending too much time on social media can affect your mental health. Cut back your screen time, and remember that not everyone has the perfect life and body they show off on social media.

7. Social networks
Birds of a feather flock together. The people you hang out with—family, friends, colleagues-—are extremely important. Laughter is contagious; obesity, smoking, depression and alcoholism can be, too.

8. Driving
If you drive more than 30 minutes a day, you are at higher risk for obesity, poor quality of life, stress and more like to smoke and consume alcohol. Uber anyone?


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