Staying fit and fine, it seems, is just more than eating the right food, running the right distance, and sleeping the right hours. As medical pundits have put it, certain habits that we have long followed and trusted to be the allies of health, could be actually bad. No, daily exercise and eating healthy are still good habits, so let's not get any wrong ideas!
The habits, that we are going to discuss here, are not downright evil or unhealthy (something like smoking, drug abuse, or being a couch potato), per se. It is just that, they come with the too-much-of-anything-is-bad
tag. Let us know what these habits are, and how they can be reshaped so that they do not interfere with our healthy lifestyle.
For most of us, the very concept of good personal hygiene begins with a daily shower. Lathering up with a nice-smelling soap and washing it down with hot steaming water leaves you feeling fresh and clean. But is it bad for the health of the skin? Let's see.
Recent studies have shown that, daily bath, especially using hot water and harsh soaps, can strip the natural oils from the outer layer of your skin, leaving it dry, scaly, or prone to infections. Also, scrubbing too hard with loofahs or washcloths may further irritate the skin and cause itching.What you can do
Skip shower every once in a while, possibly on weekends or when you plan to stay at home all day, or when you are not working out. However, if you still cannot do without a bath, then instead of hot water use warm water (even better, lukewarm or cold water) and a soap or shower gel that is gentle on your skin. You can exfoliate your skin two to three times a week. After taking a shower, pat the skin dry with a soft towel and apply a moisturizer to prevent dryness.
Using Hand Sanitizers
The use of hand sanitizers has become increasingly popular over the years. They help kill disease-causing bacteria, are convenient and quicker than soap and water for disinfecting your hands (you just need to squirt and rub), come in small bottles, and are handy to carry. They are especially popular in hospitals, schools, and workplaces to prevent the spread of infections. The manufacturers also claim that hand sanitizers remove 99.9% of germs. Let's see how far this is true.
Hand sanitizers are gradually replacing the traditional hand washing method (with soap and water), which is in fact, the best way to kill germs and prevent the spread of diseases. What most people are unaware of is the fact that sanitizers are not effective when used for cleaning hands covered with dirt, stain, grease, or blood. In such cases it is necessary to thoroughly wash the hands with soap and water. Furthermore, certain sanitizer brands contain an antibacterial agent called triclosan, which kills the good bacteria along with the bad, and contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Most sanitizers available in the market contain alcohol as their active ingredient, which is effective in killing germs. However, make sure that it contains at least 60% alcohol.
There are some side effects of alcohol-based sanitizers. If ingested, they can cause alcohol poisoning in small children. So keep out of the reach of children. Persistent use of hand sanitizers is not good for young children as their immune systems have not been fully developed. If children are raised in a completely germ-free environment, they may develop various diseases and infections later on in life. What you can do
Use hand sanitizers only when water and soap is not available. It is important to supervise children when using sanitizers. Ensure that they use only a small amount and rub their hands properly until the liquid dries out completely.
Brushing Immediately After Meals
It is definitely a good habit to brush your teeth twice daily - once in the morning, and once after meal before going to bed. This helps keep bacteria away and reduces plaque formation in the mouth, thus aiding in maintaining clean and healthy teeth.
But dentists say that brushing immediately after meals can damage your teeth. This is especially true if you brush right after having sugary and acidic food like tomatoes, citrus fruits, juices, etc. These foods contain high levels of acid which may soften the tooth enamel. So brushing right after meals can erode the enamel and damage your teeth. What you can do
After meals, wait for at least an hour before brushing. This will allow the saliva in your mouth to neutralize the acid and restore the normal pH balance of your mouth, reducing the risk of any damage.
Too Much Cleanliness
It is a good habit to keep our home and surroundings clean and germ-free for a healthy living. Cleanliness may be next to godliness, but too much of it may invite the devil right into your house. If you have been feeling low about not cleaning your room or house for a day or two, then cheer up! Keeping your house ultra clean may please you or your guests, but not your child's immune system.
While keeping one's house and surroundings clean may help reduce contact with germs, the practice of keeping everything spic-and-span, may increase the likelihood of allergies and asthma in children. You may ask how? Research suggests that children who are not exposed to germs during childhood are more likely to develop various diseases later in life. This is because, their immune system has never learned to fight against bacteria and disease-causing germs. Exposure to germs and microbes strengthens the immune system and helps fight off infections. So, a little dirt here and there, may actually make your children less sensitive to allergies and infections.What you can do
So, how can you protect your kids from nasty, infectious diseases and at the same time, allow them to get exposed to germs so that they do not develop allergies later? There is one simple solution - let your kids be kids. Do not panic if your child picks up something from the floor and puts it in his mouth, or douse him with antibacterial soap or liquid if he comes home wet and muddy; relax, it's okay.
Hiding from the Sun
Slathering the skin with sunscreens and covering up the body whenever you are out in the sun, helps lower the risk of many skin problems, especially skin cancer. But the benefits of all these precautions come at the price of an essential nutrient, which is vitamin D.
The body produces this vitamin D in response to sun exposure, thus it is also called the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D deficiency may be associated with various conditions such as, rickets, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, cognitive impairment, asthma, etc. What you can do
People who do not get enough vitamin D from sunlight, must include foods like, egg yolk, fish, cheese, and soy products in their diet to make up for the loss. In addition, it is also recommended to take supplements to make sure that the body's needs for vitamin D are met. While it may not be determined how much sun exposure is good for you and how much is bad, health experts stand by the safety of spending little and frequent time in the sun.
The present world's new mantra for good health is a fat-free diet. Chucking out Mr. Fat completely from your diet, may give you a flat tummy or a conspicuous collarbone, but it may mess up with your overall health.
According to medical experts, a totally fat-free diet may do more harm than good. So, what's wrong with fat-free foods? Health experts say, such foods lack taste, so to make up for this, ingredients like sugar, flour, salt, etc. are added to these products, which in turn, ups the calorie content. It's believed that frozen yogurt is low in fat, so one can have as much as they want. Even though it's fat-free it contains high amounts of sugar which increases the calorie count. Hence this does not serve as a healthy option when consumed on a regular basis.What you can do
While it is important to keep the fat content in your diet below 30%, one must also pay attention to the type of fat consumed. Include foods rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (these are known as "good fats") in your diet. These include vegetable oil, nuts, legumes, seeds, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna. Avoid saturated and trans fats, such as red meat, processed and fast food, etc.
Stretching Before Workout
How old is the recommendation or belief that stretching before any workout is a good habit? Age-long I'll say! Doing a couple of stretches before working out, is believed to make you more flexible and reduces the risk of injury right? However, fitness experts now beg to differ with this idea. Stretching before exercise may not only be unhelpful in preventing injuries, but it may, in fact, increase the risk of the same.
Common stretching activities like bending over to touch the toes, do not help relax the muscles, but they actually make them tighter. This may keep the body from moving fast or freely, thereby increasing the risk of injuries during workout.What you can do
It must be noted that, stretching is not the same as warming up. For instance, walking before running is an ideal warm-up exercise and so is slow cycling before intense biking. So, basically you are warming up your body before a rigorous workout. This is not the case with stretching, which is why, it is more helpful when done after working out, or at the end of the day.
To sum up, most of these habits are not technically bad, but they may have negative implications on your health, if not followed in moderation.