Think you know what's good for you? You may be surprised. Take a look at these seven seemingly good habits that can actually be bad for your health.
While we are probably all familiar with the advice to drink eight glasses of water a day, more recent research has suggested that there is actually no scientific evidence supporting this recommendation and that drinking excessive amounts of water can actually be dangerous by lowering the concentration of salt in your blood.
Health-conscious water drinkers should also be wary of the trend for drinking bottled water, as studies have suggested that the chemicals (phthalates) from plastic bottles can leach into water and disrupt hormone levels.
Talking over your problems
Talking through your problems can be a great way to gain some perspective and get things off your chest. However, studies have suggested that, after a certain point, rehashing and dwelling on problems can actually be bad for your health. According to research, revisiting and analysing the same problems with friends ("co-rumination") can lead to anxiety, stress disorders and depression.
Next time a problem arises, by all means talk it over with a friend, but try to focus on problem-solving rather than simply dwelling on the issue.
Sipping on mocktails
You may think that by swapping cocktails for mocktails you are doing your health a favour, but this may not actually be the case. While cutting down on alcohol is beneficial for your wellbeing, mocktails are often high in refined sugar which research suggests is just as damaging and addictive as alcohol. For a safer swap and a shot of nutrients, make sure you stick to mocktails made from pure fruit juices instead of those made from syrups.
Early morning workouts
While a daily workout is great for your health, studies suggest that getting up for early morning exercise may not be as ideal as it seems. A study by a researcher from Brunel University, Middlesex, found that heavy training sessions early in the morning can compromise the immune system and put athletes at increased risk of bacterial and viral infection. While a morning jog or gentle exercise session is unlikely to put you at risk, it may be better to save heavier workouts for later in the day.
Taking nutritional supplements
We all know that vitamins are good for us, but relying on nutritional supplements can actually be bad for your health. Separate studies have shown that high doses of vitamin supplements including iron, magnesium and vitamin B6 raise the death rate of older women, while taking vitamin E can increase men's risk of prostate cancer. While certain people may be required to take vitamins (those with low levels of vitamin D, for example, or vegans who may be deficient in vitamin B12), for most people a better approach is to opt for a varied diet full of fruit and vegetables which will give you all the nutrients you need.
Slathering on sunscreen
Official advice for many years has warned about the dangers of skin cancer, causing many of us to take measures to cover up in the sun at all times. However, while it is extremely important to protect your skin, experts have more recently advised that little and frequent sun exposure is good for us, preventing vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to rickets, osteomalacia and depression. Official advice in the UK, where rickets has recently made a comeback, is to spend 10 minutes in the midday sun without sunblock each day before covering skin up.
Switching to low fat foods
When getting started in healthy eating, it is tempting to opt for low fat foods in order to help keep off excess pounds. However, cutting out 'good' fats such as omega-3 fatty acids could be detrimental to your health. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish, walnuts and flaxseeds, not only help to keep skin supple and wrinkle-free, they are also essential for good brain and heart health and can help prevent arthritis.
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Many of us have been brought up to believe that losing our temper is the ultimate social faux pas. To an extent this is true (nobody wants to hang out with that person who is always losing their cool and shouting their mouth off), however research has found that losing your temper could actually be good for your health. Venting your emotions is believed to reduce the effects of stress, while a Swedish study found that men who bottled up their anger when unfairly treated at work doubled their risk of having a heart attack. Find out which 'good’ habits are bad for your health
In recent years, official advice has been that we should cover up in the sun at all times to protect ourselves from skin cancer. However, more recently experts have stated that actually little and frequent sun exposure is good for us. In the UK, where vitamin D deficiency is common, seven leading health groups and charities have issued a statement advising everyone to spend 10 minutes in the midday sun without sunblock in order to avoid rickets. Meanwhile, a US study has stated that the vitamin D produced by the sun could help ward off colds and flu. However, experts have stressed that people should cover up after 10 minutes, and skin should never be red at the end of the day.
Although constantly giving into junk food cravings is a sure-fire way to sabotage your healthy eating success, allowing yourself the odd treat will not only boost your happiness, it will also help you keep motivated to stay on track. Also, as many people crave the foods that they most attempt to resist, allowing yourself a little of what you fancy can actually help to reduce cravings. If you have imposed extreme restrictions on your diet and cut out entire food groups, cravings could also be a sign of a nutrient deficiency in your diet. Do these 5 things make you slim?
Many of us view daydreaming as a sign of laziness or form of procrastination; however, researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that letting your mind wander can actually help boost your problem-solving abilities. The study found that when participants minds wandered, the parts of their brain associated with problem-solving became more active than when focused on routine tasks. So, while daydreaming can increase the time it takes to complete your present task, it can allow you to unconsciously sort through other important problems in your life.
Feeling guilty about your weekend lie-in? Don’t be! Research has found that sleep can help you live longer, boost your memory and reduce stress, while not getting enough can lead to accidents, weight gain, and increased risk of heart disease. Furthermore, delaying your morning workout in favour of some shut-eye may have health benefits, as research from Brunel University found that heavy training sessions early in the morning can compromise the immune system.
Swearing: it’s not big and it’s not clever... but studies suggest that in certain situations it may actually be good for you. According to a study by the University of East Anglia, swearing at work could help employees cope with stress and maintain solidarity. Meanwhile, researchers at Keele University’s School of Psychology found that swearing can provide effective short-term relief from pain. However, the study also notes that swearing should be reserved for crises only, as the higher the daily swearing frequency was for participants, the less pain relief they experienced.
OK, so repeatedly missing showers may not win you any friends, but if you are ever tempted to skip a shower here and there, research suggests that you could be doing your health (and the environment) a favour. Daily washing not only strips your skin of the natural oils that keep it hydrated and supple, it could also strip your skin of good bacteria that help to prevent disease. If you do decide to skip a shower, just try to do it on a day when you won’t be vigorously working out!
It’s the bane of school teachers everywhere, yet research suggests that fidgeting may be no bad thing – at least in us adults. Research suggests that fidgeting can burn up to 350 extra calories a day, helping you to keep off those excess pounds. To further increase your calorie burn, try to squeeze in more incidental exercise, such as getting up to change the channel rather than using the remote control. Have you tried these 5 fun diet and fitness alternatives?
Although drinking too much coffee can be detrimental to your health, in smaller quantities the popular hot drink can actually be good for you. When drunk in moderation (no more than three cups per day), caffeine can speed up your metabolism, boost exercise endurance and reduce your risk of gallstones and kidney stones. A study by the Harvard Medical School has also found that women who drink two or more cups of coffee a day are less likely to be depressed, while separate research has shown that drinking three cups cuts risk of age-related diabetes.
Most of us love a good gossip, whether we’re giggling over a colleague’s new romance or passing an opinion on someone’s outfit choice or behaviour, and the good news is that gossiping could actually be good for us. Not only does listening to gossip help us to learn more about the characters of those around us, bonding and having a laugh with your peers also releases feel-good hormones which help to relieve stress and anxiety.
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