You’re Increasing Your Risk of Diabetes and Alzheimer’s With This 1 Horrible Habit

You’ve heard it before — your high-sugar diet is increasing your risk of diabetes, and all those loud concerts up your chances of developing Alzheimer’s. And that’s not to mention how your genetic makeup may be working against you. Cleaning up your diet and getting regular exercise are key in disease prevention, but that’s not all there is to it. There’s still one horrible habit most of us let slide — and it could be the one that kills you.

Alzheimer’s and diabetes are inflammatory diseases

Young man smiles as he lounges on his stomach in bed.

Stop thinking about a healthier lifestyle … get to it! | iStock.com

So, what do Alzheimer’s and diabetes have in common? They’re both diseases that can result from chronic inflammation. Let’s be clear — your inflammatory response is actually designed to protect your body, but chronic inflammation can really hurt you and lead to a wealth of issues. And if the chronic issue goes untreated, it can damage your cells and tissue over time, which contributes to the development of these lifelong ailments.

Your bad diet and poor exercise routine can contribute to inflammation, but so can the following habit you need to stop asap.

Binge-watching TV is killing you

Man and woman facing each other on a couch eating pizza with the TV on in the background.

Consider flipping to a healthier lifestyle. | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

According to researchers from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, there’s a crucial (and deadly) link between binge-watching your favorite show and the development of chronic inflammatory disease. The researchers surveyed 8,900 adults and found “every extra hour per day spent watching television led to a 12% higher risk of death linked to inflammation … ”

So, who’s watching the most TV? Older folks, current and ex-smokers, those with lower household incomes, and those who have a lower quality diet are the most likely to binge-watch. Even if you just watch a few hours a day, it’s best to cut back.

If you get colon cancer, watching TV may decrease your survival rate, too

A man flips the channel on the television with a remote.

Parking in front of the TV for hours can mess with your health. | iStock.com

Here’s something scary to consider — your bad TV habit may decrease your chances of surviving colon cancer. A study from the Journal of Clinical Oncology found those who spent a decent chunk of their time in front of the television before and after their cancer diagnosis were more likely to die from it. And the more time spent binge-watching, the higher the mortality rate.

The good news is the same study found those who participated in light leisurely activity for around seven hours a week after diagnosis lowered their risk of death by 31%. So when in doubt, get moving.

It can also raise your blood pressure

Doctor checking a young man's blood pressure.

TV marathons could lead to high blood pressure. | iStock.com

Not only is your television hurting your brain and insulin levels, but it’s also harming your heart. ScienceDaily cites a study that found children who spend more than two hours a day in front of the TV or computer increase their odds of developing high blood pressure by 30%. And matters get even worse if they’re not exercising at all, as getting less than an hour of physical activity daily increased the risk to 50%.

The researchers may have studied children in this case, but it’s even more crucial for adults to watch their blood pressure, as a high reading can quickly lead to heart disease.

And your sleep may suffer, too

A woman falls asleep at work while taking a break on a chair.

Turn off your TV before heading to bed. | Sam Edwards/OJO Images/Getty Images

Think falling asleep to the TV is the best way to drift off into dreamland? Guess again. The light from the screen actually sends a signal to your brain that it’s not bedtime, thus totally screwing up your sleep cycle. You’ll probably end up staying up way later than you initially intended, or you won’t be entering REM sleep, which is the most restorative. Do yourself a favor and keep your bedroom a screen-free space. 

The good news: Sitting isn’t exactly the problem

Potato chips in white bowl on a wooden table.

Watch out for those junk foods you might munch on during a late-night TV binge. | GooDween123/iStock/Getty Images

If you work at a desk all day, your health-conscious friends have probably been on your case about how bad your sedentary job is for you. It turns out, however, that not all sitting is created equal. CNN reports sitting for your job isn’t actually strongly associated with the development of disease. This is probably because many people who work at a desk are at a higher socioeconomic position, thus they have the money to eat healthier and hit the gym. Those who watch a lot of TV are typically of a lower status, so their diet may not be as clean, and they most likely don’t get as much daily exercise.

Here’s what you can do to save your health

Female hands lacing running shoes.

Skip those cheesy network movies and lace up those sneakers. | Fizkes/iStock/Getty Images

When it comes to the development of inflammatory disease, there are tons of ways to decrease your risk. We’ll start with the obvious by suggesting at least 60 minutes of light physical activity a day can help combat the negative effects of TV. And your love of sugary foods is also making matters worse, especially when it comes to diabetes.

On the other hand, healthy fats, foods high in vitamins C and E, and low-glycemic carbs (think quinoa) can actually help chronic inflammation. If you need an easy list of inflammation-fighting foods, check these out.