10 Everyday Habits That Are Actually Bad for You
It’s now common knowledge that smoking is bad for your health, but of course, that wasn’t always the case. Most of us would like to try and live healthier lives, but might be sabotaging ourselves and putting our health at risk without even knowing it. From constantly checking your smartphone to sleeping in too long, there are plenty of seemingly harmless behaviors that could be taking years off your life.
1. Drinking Unfiltered Water
By unfiltered water, we’re talking about straight out of the tap. (Drinking water from a stream is always a bad idea and full of harmful microorganisms.) Tap water is certainly a major upgrade from well or creek water, but it’s far from perfect. It’s full of impurities that it picked up along the way to your faucet, including everything from unhealthy levels of lead and chloramines to traces of pharmaceutical drugs. If you’re really curious about what’s in the tap water of your specific area, you can find out at the tap water database – or just play it safe and use a filter.
2. Spending Too Much Time on Social Media
Getting by without a smartphone or social media can be next to impossible in today’s society. That doesn’t mean all that scrolling isn’t taking a toll on your physical and mental health. Social media was designed to make people more connected, but it has also made society more divisive than ever by allowing people to filter out points of view that don’t align with theirs. Researchers have also found that people who spend more than two hours a day on social media were more likely to have feelings of depression and isolation from peers.
If that wasn’t enough, all that staring down at your smartphone has led to a spike in neck pain among frequent smartphone users.
3. Not Washing Fruits and Vegetables
Not washing your fruits and vegetables before consumption is playing with fire, even if you only buy organic. Because many vegetables like potatoes and carrots grow in the ground, they’re at increased risk of contaminants that live in soil. There’s also the issue of pesticides. Even though the kinds of pesticides used are under strict supervision, it’s still an unnatural chemical on your food and washing it off is a preventative measure.
But what if you only buy non-gmo fruit that was organically grown by a sweet old lady at your local farmer’s market? Well, there’s no telling how many hands fondled that tomato before you bought it. Studies have shown that washing removes 90% of pathogens from fruits and veggies – another reason to spend the extra 10 seconds to wash your food in the future.
4. Drinking Diet Soda
Your dentist was right about sugary sodas harming your teeth, but what you might not be aware of is how damaging a diet soda substitute can also be. The can might have fewer calories, but researchers have found that frequent drinkers of diet cola were more likely to have poor blood circulation, thus leading to an increased risk of strokes and dementia. “The right direction to go in is to have plain water,” or other beverages that do not contain artificial sweeteners, said Dr. Paul Wright, chairman of neurology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York.
5. Taking Dietary Supplements
The benefits of taking vitamins has long been debated, with various studies claiming that they provide little to no benefit. But what about the harm that some of them might even create?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration outlined the potential danger in 2017, issuing a warning to consumers about the risks of taking high doses of the B-complex vitamin biotin. According to studies, high levels of biotin in the blood can hinder medical tests that may otherwise detect the potential risk of a heart attack. How much biotin can interfere with these lab results is unclear, but 30 micrograms are the recommended daily amount of biotin and some supplements contain far more than that. And because so many supplements have far higher than the daily recommended percentage, taking too much can damage your organs. For example, too much Vitamin A can lead to liver failure.
6. Watching TV or Using Electronics Right Before Bed
Watching one more episode of Game of Thrones or checking out that last goofy YouTube clip before bed is tempting, but it’s not helping your sleep cycle. For one, the light emitted from TVs and electronic devices suppress the brain’s production of the hormone melatonin, making falling asleep more difficult. Even if you feel your eyelids getting heavy while staring at that screen, the blue light can still lead to a delay of REM sleep and drowsiness the next day.
Then there’s the issue of what you’re watching before bed. If you find yourself tossing and turning, it could be linked to watching the news or something scary, heightening anxiety when your brain needs rest.
7. Getting Too Much or Too Little Sleep
Sleep is an absolute must for good health – if it wasn’t, evolution would have phased it out centuries ago. Some people can function on less than the recommended eight hours of sleep, some need a little more. The key is getting the right amount. Too little and you’re groggy all day and might have trouble focusing. Too much can also be bad; researchers found that older women who slept more than 9 hours a night had a higher risk of developing heart disease than women who slept seven to eight hours a night.
Your heart isn’t the only thing that can suffer from snoozing too much. Spending too much time in bed can raise your blood sugar, leading to increased risk of diabetes. Perhaps most disturbing, is that people who oversleep are more likely to die younger – probably from the aforementioned heart disease or diabetes.
8. Wearing Skinny Jeans
So that pair of skinny jeans makes your legs and butt look incredible? Well, they’re also cutting off the blood flow in your legs. Ouch! Reports of otherwise healthy young people developing compartment syndrome, caused by bleeding or swelling within muscles, are becoming more and more common. Tight-fitting denim has also been linked to back pain and the unpleasant-sounding condition of twisted testicles.
Kurtis Kim, a vascular surgeon and the director of the vascular laboratory at Mercy Medical in Baltimore, offered up some practical advice for anyone concerned if their pants are too tight: “If people wear some skinny jeans and their legs swell up when they sit down, or if their feet or toes or those distal parts of the leg become numb and tingly—when people feel those things when they wear jeans, this is not a fitting jean for them.”
9. Sitting For Long Periods of Time
The sad reality is that for many people, spending hours behind a desk in unavoidable. That desk job with the great benefits though is costing you your health. Sitting for long periods of time has been linked to heart disease and increased risk of cancer. The lack of movement hinders your blood flow, not to mention the havoc it can wreak on one’s back. The best thing to counteract these health pitfalls is regular exercise, and getting up at least once every hour for a five-minute walk around the office.
10. Wearing Toxic Cosmetics
You might love your raspberry lipstick or jade eyeshadow, but with ingredients like cadmium and aluminum, your makeup arsenal could be poisoning your face. With 60% of what you put on your skin finding its way into your bloodstream, using harmful cosmetics is more than a little risky. Many drugstore brand liquid foundations include chemicals that are considered “endocrine disruptors,” meaning they can affect the brain and nervous system.
With the cosmetics market having no legal obligation to report health issues from products to the FDA, the health risk could be substantial. Parabens like ethyl, methyl and butyl are estimated to be used in 75% of cosmetics and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors.