When it comes to our health, the internet puts so much much emphasis on diet and exercise that it's easy to only focus on those two factors when taking care of ourselves. However, there are a number of other areas of your health that you're probably forgetting, but just because they're not as obvious doesn't mean they're not just as important. Paying attention to all aspects of your wellbeing is important to live a long and healthy life, and you might be surprised at how each area of your health relates to the other.
"It's easy to forget about certain areas of your health for a few reasons," says health coach Alexandra Napoli over email. "First, medicine teaches us to think about the body in sections instead of as a whole. We have to look at symptoms holistically to truly find a solution. Second, we are so disconnected from our bodies we often ignore the messages it sends us. And finally there are many bodily functions considered taboo so we ignore them or are too embarrassed to talk about them."
Even if you're trying to eat well and hit the gym everyday, try not to neglect these 11 areas of your health you're probably forgetting. You'll thank yourself later.
1. Heart Health
"Women in particular often forget to take care of their hearts because there isn’t one easy test to figure out if you have a heart problem or at risk for one," says Dr. Nieca Goldberg, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center, and Medical Director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women's Health, over email. "The best way to get started on a heart evaluation is to make an appointment for a check-up. At the check, up you will have your blood pressure taken and labs for cholesterol and blood sugar."
"The largest organ of our body is skin, and we should take care of it," says family physician Dr. Jennifer Caudle over email. "Unfortunately, many damage their skin by using tanning beds or spending time in the sun without proper protection. Sun damage can cause many problems down the line like premature aging and skin cancer, and one bad sunburn can make a difference."
"Our feet are super important, but in our quest to wear the perfect shoes, we often neglect the health of our feet," says Caudle. "High heels can cause foot, leg, and back pain. They can also cause us to feel unbalanced and contribute to foot and ankle injuries." It's best to cut down on how often you wear heels, but if you can't go without them, Caudle recommends sticking to heels that have a thicker heel or platform sole to help with distributing weight. Also, avoid a narrow toe-box that can squeeze toes.
For those who don't wear glasses or contacts, you're probably not thinking much about getting your vision checked out. However, routine eye exams are important regardless of your age or physical health to check for vision impairments as well as signs of disease. It's also important to protect your eyes by limiting screen time and wearing sunglasses, according to WebMD.
If nothing seems to be wrong with your teeth, it's easy to skip dentist appointments or neglect to floss. But waiting until something feels wrong isn't exactly the way to go. "That’s a big mistake, because by the time something hurts, it’s probably a pretty big problem, instead of a small problem," says dentist Dr. Bill Dorfman over email. "It’s best not to wait and to instead be on a preventative program: See your dentist twice a year for cleanings and check-ups and once a year for x-rays to make sure everything is good."
6. Reproductive Health
"Women often ignore their menstrual cycle as it's one of our body's "taboos," says Napoli. "Instead of embracing the changing flow of energy, we feel like we have to go-go-go all the time and burn ourselves out, when biologically there are times of the month when we should rest and practice self-care. We also assume that painful periods are normal even though they aren't, so we put up with a lot of negative symptoms that could be fixed through diet and lifestyle changes."
"Taking some 'me' time is an area that is commonly overlooked but important for our well-being," says certified health coach Robyn Lanci over email." Too often, we're so focused on being someone's mom or dad, or someone's employee, that we unintentionally neglect ourselves and our partners. That's why it's vital to carve out some time to do something for you — even if it's small like a weekly manicure and a stop at your favorite coffee shop."
8. Vitamin D Levels
Three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D, according to a study from the Archives of Internal Medicine. Low levels of vitamin D is linked to a number of diseases, according to WebMD. Spend a little time outside each day, make sure to eat foods enriched with vitamin D, and talk to your doctor about supplements.
9. Mental Health
"Women may not receive adequate treatment for mood due to not discussing these symptoms with their doctor or not feeling they have the time/resources to adequately address their symptoms," says Dr. Courtney Johnson, neuropsychologist at Indiana University Health Neuroscience Center. "Women are more likely to be diagnosed with some mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, and there are effective treatments that can address these symptoms and improve quality-of-life."
For busy people, sleep usually isn't a priority, but getting enough sleep can play a huge role in our health. Sleep deprivation can cause everything from memory loss, heart disease, diabetes, increased risk of anxiety and depression, skin aging, and even a shortened lifespan, according to WebMD. Make sleep a priority, even if you're still able to function the next day with only a few hours — it will help you in the long run.
It's not uncommon for people to have allergies, but some of the sources of your allergies can actually be fixed if you pay a little bit of attention. Certain household items such as candles, perfumes, plastics, and more can cause allergies, so it might be time to clear out your house and focus on those respiratory issues.
Paying attention to your overall health is important, so make sure certain areas don't fall through the cracks, even if they're not as widely talked about.
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