Is Modern Life Ruining Our Health?

Mobile Phone Addiction

Getting your fix can be a hard habit to break. How many times a day do you reach for your phone? Do you feel anxious without it? If so, you’re not alone. Diana James from Queensland University of Technology has studied problematic mobile phone use for many years and says that, although we depend on our phones, “constant connectivity is a big burden,” she explains.

“I call it emotional tethering you’re tethered to the phone and tethered to the technology and there’s no escape, which is both emotionally and physically draining.”

There are now more mobile phones in Australia than people, and when we start to rely on our phones as “adult pacifiers”, as one expert puts it, the health risks can be serious. Mobile phone users in James’ survey reported everything from dips in productivity to sleep deprivation (which is also linked to weight gain).

The jury is still out on whether mobile phones cause brain tumours (watch the video below for more), but some researchers insist children are more at risk.

Reduce Your Risk

By setting boundaries, says psychologist Jacqui Manning, from the Darling Street Health Centre in Sydney. “Establish a rule to switch your phone off at a certain time each night so you’re forced to have some wind-down time, instead of your brain always being ‘on-call’,” she explains, “and aim to switch it off or check it only once or twice on weekends, until that reduced usage becomes a habit.”

About 90 per cent of Australian children own a mobile phone by the time they’re 15, so if you’re a parent, you may also wish to limit your children’s mobile phone usage, says Manning.

H20 Hassles: Should We Bin the Bottled Water?

There’s been some hype about the dangers of plastics used in bottled water, babies’ bottles, cans and food containers, due to the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is an endocrine disrupter, and reports have suggested it may migrate into the contents of the plastic containers, and be passed onto us. The jury’s still out, but studies indicate low levels of BPA may have an effect on fertility, and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is reviewing the levels.

Buy a glass or BPA-free water bottle instead of buying a bottle of water whenever you need one, says Massage. “I think we rely too much on bottled water, especially in Australia where we have very healthy tap water,” he says. Check out the range of bottles at www.bpa.freedrinkbottles.com.au.

Popping Pills

Health HabitsAre you taking medication instead of making crucial lifestyle changes? You’ve got a headache. Period pain. A sore knee. The flu. Before you can say Grey’s Anatomy, out comes the painkiller, a decongestant or a prescription antibiotic. We pop more than 40 million pills a day in this country, and medication use across Australia has risen 37 percent since 1993.

How much of that medication could be ditched if we made healthy lifestyle changes instead? A lot, predicts Dr Leon Massage. “Many medications only treat the symptoms and unless you absolutely have to soldier on, there might be better techniques to try first, like getting more rest, drinking more fluids, or taking the day off if you’re battling a cold or flu.

“Another common example of this involves drugs like Xenical a pricey weight-loss drug people take to give them diarrhoea if they eat too much fat. But Xenical only decreases fat absorption by 20 to 30 percent, so why not just lower your fat intake by that amount instead of eating a fatty meal, taking this drug, ending up on the toilet and paying for the privilege?”

Safe examples of weight loss supplements are HCG drops and Phen375. Both of these supplements are claimed to be made from natural ingredients which are at least safe for the human body.

By treating health issues with lifestyle changes, rather than just masking the symptoms with medication. Aim to take medication only when you absolutely need to and this includes antibiotics, which are abused by far too many people, warns Massage.

“Many GPs are put under pressure to prescribe antibiotics when patients don’t need them, which is causing a higher rate of antibiotic resistance. We’re reaching a stage where many antibiotics are becoming totally ineffective against the diseases they’re supposed to treat. So if you can avoid taking antibiotics, you should.”