Sometimes we need fresh inspiration to quit old habits. Here, we've put together a few new ways to help you shed your bad habits—and lengthen your life.
We all know that smoking, drinking too much, sitting around and eating junk food are all effective ways to shorten our lives.
Sometimes, though, we need new inspiration to quit old habits or a good old-fashioned doctor's warning: "People may have discussions with health professionals about their well-being, or they see what happens to people who make different decisions," says Dr. Tim Stockwell, director of the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C. at the University of Victoria. Fortunately, at this age, we may be better equipped to change harmful behaviours once and for all. "As people are older, they have more resources," Stockwell notes.
We've put together a few new ways to help you shed your bad habits —and lengthen your life.
1. Dial Back the Drinking
If you've bought into the belief that moderate drinking makes you healthier, we're sorry to tell you that a research review by Stockwell and his team last year disputed this claim. The truth is drinking moderately leaves you no better off than people who drink only occasionally or not at all. Heavy alcohol use, on the other hand, is linked to cancer, liver disease and heart disease, especially as you get older. Here are three ways to reduce the hooch.
Do it for charity. Embarrassed to tell your boozy friends you're cutting back? Tell them you're having a dryathlon—an alcohol-free month to raise money for charity, like the "Dry Feb" event organized by the Canadian Cancer Society. When you have a just-water-thanks month, it does make a difference. A 2016 study of dry athletes in the U.K. found they retained better drinking habits even six months later.
Give your liver a two-day timeout. Instead of just limiting how much you drink each day, go completely alcohol free for two days in a row every week. This has been shown to help the liver recover and stay healthier in the long-term, compared to drinking a bit every day.
Pick reduced-alcohol options. Why not choose weaker wines containing six or seven per cent alcohol compared to 12, or beers with three per cent instead of five? In an experiment, Stockwell found that drinkers who were given unlabelled beer couldn't tell whether it was regular or reduced-strength. "There's a strong placebo effect," he says. "People enjoy themselves just as much."
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