We all have them — habits we think are healthy because we heard them somewhere on the news or from a health-conscious friend. And no matter how much we hate them, we just keep doing them because we think they're good for us.
Take avoiding gluten, for example. Is it really healthy? Or taking a daily multivitamin. Healthy habit or a little bit of nonsense?
The answers to these questions might surprise you.
Using A Standing desk
A recent long-term study looking at data on nearly 4,000 US adults found no benefit in terms of overall risk of dying from standing as opposed to sitting.
In the short-term, however, standing does burn more calories per minute; so if losing weight is all you're worried about, stand on!
Using Toilet Seat Liners
Viruses like HIV and herpes are fragile, meaning they don't survive very well outside of a nice, warm human body. By the time you sit down on a public toilet seat — even if it was recently shared by someone else — most harmful pathogens likely wouldn't be able to infect you.
Plus, your skin is an effective block against any microbes. (Unless, of course, you have a cut or open wound there, which could allow the bacteria to get in.)
Unless you're one of the 1% of Americans who suffer from celiac disease, glutenprobably won't have a negative effect on you. In fact, studies show that most people suffer from slight bloating and gas when they eat, whether they consume wheat or not. So go ahead and eat that bagel.
Drinking Almond Milk
Alternatives to dairy milk have been surging in popularity in the last few years, chief among them almond milk. Yet almond milk is practically devoid of nutrients.
By themselves, almonds are protein powerhouses. But a typical glass of almond milk, by volume, is just about 2% almonds and contains almost no protein. And all the vitamins inside are added. So if you're looking for a truly healthy alternative, opt for soy, skim, or low-fat milk.
When you juice fresh fruits and veggies, you remove all of their fiber, the key ingredient that keeps you feeling full and satisfied until your next meal.
What you keep is the sugar. In the short term, a high-sugar, low-protein diet means constant hunger pangs, mood swings, and low energy. In the long term, you can lose muscle mass since muscles rely on protein.
The practice of ear candling — yes, ear candling — involves putting a lit, cone-shaped candle inside your ear. People who do it say it's helpful for relieving earwax and treating some infections. According to the Mayo Clinic, not so much.
"Research shows," they write, "that ear candling is ineffective at removing earwax and is also not an effective treatment for any other conditions." Plus, the practice can end up pushing earwax deeper into your ear. Even worse, you can burn your face, hair, scalp, or ear. So don't.
Avoiding The Microwave
We've all heard the rumors about how "nuking" foods robs them of their nutrients. Fortunately for most of us, this is entirely false. Microwave ovens cook food using energy waves. The waves cause the molecules in food to vibrate quickly, building up their energy as heat.
Of course, some nutrients begin to disintegrate when heated, whether it's from a microwave, a stove, or something else. But since microwave-cooking times are typically much shorter than oven-cooking times, microwaving something often does a better job of keeping its vitamins intact than other cooking methods.
Applying Hand Sanitizer
If you wash your hands regularly throughout the day, hand sanitizer is almost entirely unnecessary. Plus, it can't kill all the germs that plain old soap and water can.
Norovirus and C. difficile, for example, are immune to sanitizing gels.
That isn't to say we don't need small amounts of vitamins to survive — without vitamins like A, C, and E, for example, we have a hard time turning food into energy and can develop conditions like rickets or scurvy. Here's the thing: Research shows we get more than enough of these substances from what we eat, so no need for a pill!
Monosodium glutamate is an ingredient added to many foods to enhance their flavor. It's completely safe to ingest.
MSG is often associated with a series of symptoms, from numbness at the base of the neck to a general sense of fatigue, that are commonly lumped together and called "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome." Eating too much is the more likely culprit here, not eating MSG.
Not Cracking Your Knuckles
Until recently, it was common knowledge that knuckle cracking was not only annoying but also terrible for your joints. Several new studies have upended that idea, however. Some suggest it might serve as a good indicator that a joint is well lubricated.
Commenting on a recent study in PLOS One, Greg Kawchuk, lead researcher and professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Alberta, said, "Although speculative, we wonder if being able to crack ones joints is a sign that the joint is actually healthy and that the inability to do so could be a sign of joint problems to come."
Going On A Detox Diet
No one needs to detox. Unless you've been poisoned, you already have a super efficient system for filtering out most of the harmful substances you eat. It's made up of two toxin-bashing organs: the liver and the kidneys.
While our kidneys filter our blood and remove any waste from our diet, our livers process medications and detoxify any chemicals we ingest. Paired together, these organs make our bodies natural cleansing powerhouses.
All images credit: Mike Nudelman/Business Insider
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