This continues our series on NEWSTART, the 8 secrets for optimal health. If you haven’t yet read the article on Essentials, you might want to hop over there and read that before continuing with this installment of How to Achieve Optimal health. You can catch that right HERE.
The first “T” in NEWSTART stands for Temperance. That’s a word we don’t hear too often anymore and for some people conjures up images from the prohibition era. In this acronym, NEWSTART, however, temperance addresses two principles that are vital to optimal health. The first principle is moderation in all things that are good and the second principle is abstinence from all things that are harmful. Either one requires that a person practice self-control. Only through the intentional application of these principles can we achieve the balanced life that is the result of true optimal health.
What is moderation?
Moderation is the idea that even if something is good, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Let’s take healthy food for example. Even if everything on your plate is healthy, if you consume too large a quantity, more than your body actually needs based on your activity level, that would be overeating. Overeating is not good for your health. We can take another example of sleep. Sleep is good for your health, but studies show that people who spend more than 9 hours a day sleeping actually have poorer health outcomes than those who spend 7 or 8 hours a day sleeping. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
Where does Abstinence fit in?
It’s actually just good common sense – if something harms our health, we need to avoid it if we want to enjoy optimal health. Many people have developed habits that impact their health negatively and might not even realize it. We live in a society where addictions are so commonplace some people have actually started thinking that it’s normal to be addicted to something. The truth is, addictions are like chains of iron, and unless we are willing to do what it takes to be free, we cannot enjoy optimal health. The good news is that there is hope for freedom from addictions and applying the other 7 secrets of health that we talk about in this series actually helps us to break the bad habits that keep us from enjoying balance and freedom in life.
What are the most dangerous addictions?
That’s a hard question to answer as all addictions contribute to ending your life prematurely unless they are overcome. But here are some widespread ones.
Tobacco and nicotine
Whether you smoke, chew, or use e-cigarettes or patches, this drug quickly puts it’s hooks right into your brain. It is now common knowledge that tobacco use greatly increases your risk for lung cancer. But that’s not all. It increases your risk for many other cancers such as those of the mouth and throat and bladder and increases your risk for other diseases such as heart disease and stroke. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, “Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in America.” Tobacco causes more deaths by heart attack and strokes than it does lung cancer. Chronic smoking often causes emphysema, which is destruction of the lung tissue and ends in death by suffocation. The good news is that as soon as you smoke your last cigarette your body begins to heal. Within hours your blood levels of carbon monoxide start to go down, your blood pressure decreases and your smoking related risk for heart disease starts to decrease rapidly. The risks and dangers continue to decrease as the weeks and months go by. Quitting is the single most important thing you can do for your health and longevity. You will also enjoy better breath, whiter teeth, and fewer wrinkles. You can get support for quitting by checking out the free website – Breathefree2.com.
Alcohol and the Body
Another destructive habit is the use of alcohol. Even small amounts of alchol cause irreparable damage to the brain. It increases your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and damages the heart muscle. It depresses your breathing. In men, alcohol can damage reproductive cells causing impotence and sterility. It is also linked to birth defects in infants and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It affects your liver more than any other organ leading to fatty liver disease, kills liver cells from alcohol poisoning, and can lead to cirrhosis which is eventually fatal. It also weakens your immune system making you more vulnerable to infections and cancers.
Alcohol and Society
According to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency, alcohol is closely linked with virtually every negative aspect of society: suicide, violent crime, birth defects, industrial accidents, domestic and sexual abuse, disease, homelessness, and death. It is the number one drug problem for people from all walks of life. It knows no racial, ethnic, social, or economic barriers. One of the most subtle ways that this has made inroads in our society is through the use of wine coolers. These are sold in attractive colors and flavors and often resemble soft drinks with the illusion that somehow they are less dangerous than other forms of alcohol. In reality, they often contain more alcohol than a beer or glass of wine, more calories than a soda, and in some cases, not a drop of real fruit juice! It is a huge challenge to keep our young people drug and alcohol free these days. Family support and education can all be tools to address this issue. One of the most important is good parental example. Statistics show that young people that grow up in nonalcoholic homes are much less inclined to have problems when they reach adulthood.
Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages such as Mountain Dew, fountain Root Beer, and energy drinks. Smaller amounts are also found in chocolate. Caffeine can produce higher blood sugars, increases in blood pressure, elevated blood fats, more severe PMS symptoms, tremors, irritability and nervousness, aggravates panic attacks and anxiety disorders and causes irregular heart beats. It also irritates the stomach and stimulates the production of excess acid which can lead to ulcers. It is also associated with osteoporosis and irritates the kidneys. Getting off these beverages cold turkey can lead to severe headaches and malaise. If you stop all caffeine for a week and experience physical symptoms like headaches, lack of appetite, nausea, and cravings, you are addicted.
To cut these out of your life here are some things you can do to diminish withdrawal symptoms:
- Gradually reduce the amount of caffeine you are using
- Replace it by drinking more water
Slow down your daily activities
- Exercise in the fresh air
- Get the support of others around you
- Reward yourself for taking such a positive step
Here’s your challenge:
Try cutting down on coffee, tea, colas, and other caffeinated drinks then eventually skip them altogether. See how you fare. At the end of a week, review this material and give serious consideration to making your body a caffeine-free zone.
It really boils down to just saying, “NO”. Remember, God promises us that we can do all things through Christ, who gives us the strength. (Philippians 4:13)
Health by Choice, not by Chance by Drs. Diehl and Ludington
Proof Positive, by Neil Nedley
Hello Healthy, by Dr. Wes Youngberg