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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