Kate Cook’s Wellness Guide – Chapter 4: Daily habits – smoking and drinking


This series is a release of the book chapters from Kate Cook’s Wellness Guide 2016. To buy the book  click here: http://www.infideas.com/books/kate-cooks-wellness-plan/

In this chapter, learn about all the ways in which smoking and driking slowly but surley kills your body.

Chapter 4

It’s the things that we do every day that kill us.

If we had just the occasional drink and cigarette a month our bodies would probably cope. However, twenty a day and a bottle of wine each night will do us in eventually. What if each day we were to do small, positive things to enhance our health instead?

Habits maketh man

Habits make or break us. Twenty years ago I remember looking at a friend of mine and admiring his discipline, tenacity and drive. Twenty years later, he’s got it all – a lovely wife, a gorgeously huge home, perfect kids, dogs, and a summer place abroad. He’s strong, fit, healthy and, what’s more, he’s a really nice guy. Don’t you just hate him? Habits have made him and have included getting up early, exercising, not smoking or drinking to excess and having a calm mind every single day. We all have mates who have gone down the other road, which was classed as the much cooler road when we were younger. This is the getting trollied road and the doing no exercise road. The trouble is, if you take this road you’re likely to wake up at 45 years old, fat, drunk and stupid and that’s no way to go through life. You’ll pay for that ‘animal house’ philosophy in the end, however boring it might be in the short term. So what can those of us who overindulge expect?

Smoking gun

The ill effects of smoking take a while to become apparent. To begin with it’ll be small things, things that you feel you can cope with because they don’t really seem to be doing you any major harm.

Your love life sucks

Smoke smells. Smells linger. Smoke smells linger longer. Clothes, hair, furnishings, cars are all neon signs that say, ‘We smoke and we stink but we don’t care!’ Oddly enough, this is not an attractive prospect to non-smokers, so it cuts down your choice of partners by around 75 per cent.

Smoke and mirrors

Smokers can expect to look old before their time with premature sagging and wrinkles as the habit dries out their skin. Your hair grows thin and loses its bounce and lustre. Your fingers yellow, along with your teeth and you get those delightful hairline wrinkles around your mouth. All classic signs of a smoker.

In the red

Your bank balance will be showing signs of strain as your habit builds up and you begin smoking more and more. Not to mention the higher premiums you’ll have to pay for insurance (they expect you to die younger, you see).


Breathing is a brilliant idea. Everybody does it. Your lungs really like it and so does the rest of your body. Strangling yourself is cheaper and a swifter, less painful, option than smoking.

An early sign of lung problems is the well-known smoker’s cough. This rapidly becomes a morning ritual, whereby you spend a considerable amount of time coughing up as much accumulated rubbish from your airways as the body can expel. Then there’s the cough you seem unable to shake off all winter long. The dry cough is caused by the heat scorching your lungs and air passages. This can sometimes be uncontrollable, taking several minutes to clear.

As time goes on, it’s the breathlessness that hits. The stairs become a mountain, small hills are an Everest and you can’t run for more than a few yards. Any physical activity leaves you short of breath and your chest hurts if you exert yourself too much.


Coronary heart disease is nicotine’s biggest gift to you. Money may make the world go round but, more importantly, your heart makes your blood go round. No heart, no you. Damage your lungs and you damage your heart. As your smoking cuts down the amount of oxygen absorbed into the blood, so the heart has to work all the harder to pump the necessary amount of oxygen to keep the muscles and vital organs going.

The longer you smoke, the more clogged up the lungs become, the harder the heart has to work. Chest pains are a worrying sign and ought to be a serious warning to you that the heart just can’t take it any more.

The problems you’ll be causing your blood vessels can lead to a stroke, which can kill you or leave you disabled or unable to speak. Classic warning signs of an impending stroke are double vision, terrible headaches or difficulty finding the right words.

Circulation problems can lead to amputation, particularly of toes, feet and legs. Your teeth will also start to loosen as your smoking causes bone disease and your gums recede.

The only real answer is to stop now. One year after stopping, your risk of having a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker and within 15 years falls to a level similar to that of a person who has never smoked. Within 15 years of quitting, an ex-smoker’s risk of developing lung cancer reduces to only slightly greater than that of a non-smoker.

Sorry guys but I am not convinced this is without side-effects. Emerging research is throwing up all kinds of issues, including that vaping could induce certain cancers and be as bad for your heart as cigarettes. The flavourings are also a concern since they contain a cocktail of chemical compounds.

Secrets of wine

The wine industry might try to promote wine as an intrinsic part of a healthy diet, but there is no doubt that the effects of heavy drinking are calamitous. On an almost weekly basis some new study is published promoting the benefits of wine consumption and is contradicted by another blaming alcohol for a catalogue of ills. 

A recent study concluded that even one drink per day is too much. I think we’ll find that in time the safe level of alcohol consumption will be dependent on the type of alcohol consumed  and the underlying health of the person drinking it. Still, it is probably not a health product.

The grim truth

However much the pro-wine lobby might champion the cause of wine consumption, alcohol is known to be linked to liver and brain damage, cancer, nerve and muscle wasting, blood disorders, raised blood pressure, strokes, skin infections, psoriasis, infertility and birth defects. Alcohol consumption can also be blamed for all sorts of collateral damage such as road accidents and domestic violence. There is no doubt that excessive alcohol consumption has a detrimental effect upon health. If it had been invented in the twentieth century it would almost certainly have been banned. But all studies into health constitute an inexact science. You have to make up your own mind about what you consider safe levels of consumption – and what risks you are prepared to take. What complicates the matter is that alcohol consumption affects us all in different ways. Much depends on our size, gender and metabolism.

Sobering, isn’t it? 

One fact that undermines the case of the pro-alcohol lobby is that much of the research is sponsored by those who have a vested interest in the continued growth of alcohol consumption. Yet, aside from the rash claims made by studies published by various universities (many of which happen to be located in winemaking regions such as Bordeaux and Burgundy), there is fairly convincing evidence that moderate wine consumption does have some benefits. Drinking moderately, say a glass of wine a day, is believed to reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease, although it is unlikely that it’s the alcohol element of the wine that is beneficial – the same benefits could be achieved by drinking grape juice. Despite technically being toxic, alcohol in the form of red wine offers such benefits as controlling the levels of blood cholesterol and blood-clotting proteins.

The problem of cheap alcohol

A growing problem in recent years that is rarely highlighted is the falling price of alcohol; for example, where wine is concerned, the combination of better technology and increased volume of wine being produced has meant that the cost of a bottle has fallen dramatically over the last twenty years. The fact that alcohol is no longer a luxury and so much more accessible has helped to drive up consumption. 

One of the great planks of the wine–health debate is based on what is known as the ‘French paradox’ – the discovery made by US documentary makers that, despite a relatively high intake of alcohol, the French were generally much healthier than people in Anglo-Saxon countries. If this is true, then one of the contributory factors – besides the ‘Mediterranean diet’ high in fresh fruit and olive oil – might be the rate at which alcohol is consumed. The tendency in many Northern European countries is to binge, i.e. to concentrate drinking into a relatively short period of time. In France, since wine is an intrinsic part of the gastronomic experience, the rule seems to be ‘a little but often’.

There is also an argument that those who see drinking as a source of sensual pleasure are likely to drink less wine than those who drink simply to get drunk.

You might find chapters 22, 33 and 77 especially helpful.

More information

Kate Cook is a nutrition and wellbeing expert of over 20 years and author of 8 books – to read more please click here: www.katecook.biz

To book a call with Kate, please click this link: https://go.oncehub.com/KateCook

To buy the book  click here: http://www.infideas.com/books/kate-cooks-wellness-plan/

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