13 Everyday Habits You Think Are Unhealthy but Aren’t
If you're feeling guilty for engaging in one or more of these common behaviors, don't. They're actually not bad at all—and some of them are even good for you!
You don’t have to choose between being sweaty and cancer-free. The myth that antiperspirants cause breast cancer spread like wildfire via email about ten years ago, and the “science” sounded convincing: It claimed that aluminum-based ingredients in antiperspirants were carcinogenic and could be absorbed through small cuts in the skin after underarm shaving; antiperspirants stopped the body from sweating out the toxins, so they accumulated near the breasts and caused cancer. The American Cancer Society cites a number of studies that debunk this myth, while WebMD also rules out the likelihood that antiperspirants can cause Alzheimer’s and kidney disease.
Once upon a time not too long ago, eggs were thought to be as bad for your heart health as cigarettes (seriously) because of their cholesterol. But, according to a new study from China published in the journal Heart, eating an egg a day—yolk and all—may actually lower your chance of developing cardiovascular disease. How much? Researchers found a 26 percent decrease in the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, a 28 percent decrease in hemorrhagic stroke death, an 18 percent decrease in death resulting from cardiovascular disease, and a 12 percent decrease in ischemic heart disease. Eggs also contain protein, vitamins, phospholipids, and carotenoids, all of which are good for you. Don’t miss the 50 best healthy-eating tips of all time.
Having a beer after work
You may have heard about the benefits of drinking wine…but beer? There’s a growing body of evidence that a moderate amount of beer can help with a host of health issues, according to Men’s Health. Various studies show that beer can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and kidney stones, as well as prevent cataracts and strengthen bones. One big, fat caveat: In nearly every study, scientists note that benefits come from averaging about a beer a day; too much more than that can be very unhealthy. (This is one of a few secrets from the countries with the lowest heart disease rates in the world.)
Not showering every day
Daily showers remove bacteria from your body, which—believe it or not—is a bad thing. According to scientists at the University of Utah’s Genetic Science Centre, showering too much can harm the normal “human microbiome:” the bacteria, viruses, and microbes that reside in and on everyone’s bodies. As gross as they sound, these microorganisms are essential to keeping your immune system, digestive tract, and heart functioning properly. Showering every day can also strip the skin and scalp of necessary moisture, making it dry and lackluster. Check out these 51 brilliant health tricks you’ll want to make a habit.
Stop stressing about the fact that you’re stressing. According to a study from the University of California, Berkeley, a moderate amount of stress over a limited time period is motivating and can push you just to the level of optimal alertness and behavioral and cognitive performance. Other studies have suggested that the effects of stress are mitigated by perspective. For example, when people think of stress as a challenge instead of a threat, they can act in more constructive ways and also experience fewer negative physical repercussions.
Not working out every day
You might feel guilty for skipping the gym for a day or two, but you shouldn’t: Your body needs some R&R. When you don’t take the time to rest and instead overtrain, your muscles don’t have time to repair themselves properly and you could injure yourself or hit a weight-loss plateau, according to the American Council on Exercise. Weirdly, white men need to pay extra attention to these findings: When they exercise more than seven and a half hours per week, they’re 86 percent more likely to develop coronary artery calcification (CAC), a buildup of plaque in the arteries, and twice as likely to develop heart disease than men who are moderate exercisers. Bottom line: Sometimes less really is more. Here are 9 more healthy habits you might not realize you’re overdoing.
Scientists once theorized that profanity could exacerbate feelings of helplessness and physical pain, but the opposite is actually true. Research out of Keele University in Staffordshire, England, shows that a well-placed expletive (or a whole colorful string of them) can actually increase pain tolerance, while other studies have found that it can promote bonding among people and even be indicative of increased intelligence. Still, you’ll definitely want to avoid dropping an accidental F-bomb at an important meeting or at Thanksgiving dinner with the family.
A nutritional label sometimes doesn’t reveal the whole story of a food. While cheese does have ample amounts of fat, cholesterol, and sodium, Time cites a number of studies that reveal why a little fromage may be fantastic for you: It contains significant amounts of protein, calcium, and vitamin B12; it’s been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke; it doesn’t raise your blood pressure; it can promote gut health; and, because of the fatty acid palmitoleate, it may even combat type 2 diabetes. Still, you shouldn’t take this as a license to frolic in fondue; moderation is key in terms of health and weight maintenance.
Don’t feel guilty reaching for a snack when your stomach starts to rumble between meals. One magical method of eating doesn’t work best for everyone—and that holds true for what you’re eating as well as when you’re eating it. A wealth of studies debate the pros and cons of snacking, and the jury’s still out on exactly how it affects your metabolism, weight, and blood sugar. But, as experts note, it’s better to eat something when you’re starving so you don’t overeat at your next meal, as long as the snack isn’t overly processed, sugary, or salty. Snacking is only unhealthy when you’re eating unhealthy snacks. Don’t miss these 8 fat-releasing habits to help you slim down.
As long as you’re not acting like an extra from Mean Girls, gossiping can potentially reduce stress and promote bonding by raising oxytocin levels in women, according to one Italian study. Psychology Today explains that it can also help you figure out what’s bothering you about the situation at large, as well as suss out what’s appropriate and inappropriate in different situations. Just make sure to use gossip in a sparing and evaluative way, and don’t fall down a toxic rabbit hole, which will get you viewed in a negative light and end up causing you more grief and stress.
Well, the sweetened stuff is actually pretty bad for you, since it can increase your risk for cavities—but if you go sugar-free, you may actually reduce that risk as well as slow the buildup of plaque. Your brain might also benefit. According to British researchers at Cardiff University, chewing gum can help you focus on tasks that require “continuous monitoring” for longer periods of time, as well as improve your reaction time and accuracy. Other studies show that chewing gum can help your alertness and mood while dealing with stress, as well as reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Here are 8 more healthy habits that will keep your mind sharp.
Believe it or not, there’s a right way and a wrong way to complain. Science suggests that the wrong way can lead your brain to rewire itself for negativity and cause a number of physical problems, including weakening your immune system and raising blood pressure. So how do you complain correctly? According to a Clemson University study, by being more “mindful” about your complaints. In essence, good complainers try to figure out a way to make things better, not just moan about things that they feel they can’t change. Venting and cathartic complaining, especially after a traumatic event, can also help people make sense of whatever just happened and aid in the healing process.
Sleeping in on the weekend
You can’t make up for too little sleep during the week…or can you? Sleep science experts have claimed that snoozing till noon (or even 10 a.m.) will mess with your circadian rhythms and increase your likelihood of developing diabetes and heart disease; however, Swedish researchers found some surprising benefits when people catch up on their sleep. People under 65 who got less sleep on weekdays and more sleep during the weekends lived as long as people who got a dreamy seven hours of sleep every night. When elderly folks got less sleep—and didn’t make up for it on the weekend—were 50 percent less likely to live as long. However, some routines are surprisingly unhealthy. Here are 10 habits that you didn’t realize are actually dangerous for your health.