10 Common Habits That Are Making You Sick

Updated: Mar. 01, 2021

Many of our daily habits could be sabotaging longevity, according to the thought-provoking book The End of Illness. Here are some of the worst culprits that might harm your health.

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Your flu shot fear

Each time you encounter the intense inflammation that can accompany the flu, you release chemicals that damage blood vessels and may raise the risk of inflammatory-rooted diseases like heart disease later in life. Learn the daily habits of people who never get sick.

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Your unpredictable schedule

One of our biggest stressors is not finances or marriage but the lack of a regular routine. Even simply eating lunch an hour later than usual can spike levels of the stress hormone cortisol and disrupt your body’s ideal state. Try to eat, sleep, and exercise at the same time every day, 365 days a year. Watch out for the silent signs stress is making you sick.

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Your fruit and veggie selections

By the time produce travels from its source to store shelves, it has lost many of its disease-fighting compounds. Buy fresh veggies locally or when in season. If not, stick to frozen, which is prepared at peak ripeness to lock in nutrients. We recommend these foods that boost your immune system to get you started.

Running workout in the city.

Your gym workout

Even if you exercise vigorously, spending the rest of your day sitting could affect cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Find little ways to get moving all day long, including these sneaky ways to stay fit without working out.

blisters, woman on high heels has difficulties to walk in her shoes

Your heels

You know that stilettos aren’t comfy, but the pain they cause is also a sign of inflammation linked to chronic disease. While Dr. Agus doesn’t say that heels trigger heart attacks, he does believe that sticking to comfortable shoes can protect your body from inflammation’s long-term damage. Can’t give up your perfect pair of pumps? Here’s how to wear heels and still feel comfortable.

Lonely non-social Asian man with his smartphone in his bedroom apartment. Man bites nails.
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Your nail biting

Nail biting is more than just a bad tendency; it can also wreak havoc on your health. In a small Turkish study, 76 percent of nail-biters tested positive for diarrhea- and vomit-causing bacteria like Escherichia coli, compared to just 26.5 percent of non-biters. Doctors say these little habits hurt your health, too.

Healthy eating for lunch to work. Food in the office
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Your “sad desk lunch”

Your office is a breeding ground for bacteria—and unfortunately, your keyboard is one of the germiest spots. In fact, a 2013 study discovered that in just one day, more than 50 percent of surfaces and employees can become infected with a virus. Eating lunch outside (or at least away from your desk!) can reduce how much bacteria you are exposed to on a daily basis.

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Your smoking habit

If the cancer risk alone wasn’t a good enough reason to quit this vice, here’s one more: Smoking can decrease your immune function, making you more likely to catch the flu, cold, or pneumonia. Don’t miss these clear signs you’re getting sick.

rumpled bed with white messy pillow decoration in bedroom interior

Your unwashed bed sheets

Bad news: Dust mites love your warm, dark bed as much as you do. While they are relatively harmless by themselves, their droppings and discarded body fragments can trigger asthma and allergic reactions, according to the Daily Mail. To avoid these unwanted guests, this is exactly how often you should change your sheets.

Too lazy to get out of bed, a woman covers her face with a pillow
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Your lack of sleep

While we should be sleeping for seven to nine hours every night, only half of Americans reach that goal. But skimping on your shut-eye can do more than just decrease your energy levels. Not sleeping enough can also leave you vulnerable to illnesses, because your cells can’t fully recharge while you snooze. Bonus: You can literally lose weight in your sleep, too.

Sources: The End of the Illness (Free Press), by David B. Agus, MD; Men’s Fitness; Bustle

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest