Surprise! Five Healthy Habits That Really Aren’t
By Gwendolyn Harris
No matter where you are in your health journey, it’s always a good time to check in and correct those sneaky habits you may have picked up along the way that are “supposed” to be good for you, but actually do more harm than help. Here’s five that will surprise you:
1. Brushing after every meal
Your dentist hasn’t been lying to you all these years, we promise! Brushing after meals is a healthy habit that helps prevent plaque build up and other dental disasters, but the key is to brush at the right time. Experts recommend waiting at least 30 minutes after eating highly acidic foods before you brush. The acid from foods like citrus fruits and soft drinks can soften your tooth enamel and speed up the acid’s erosion effects.
2. Drinking bottled water
You MUST drink water! Drinking at least half your body weight in ounces daily is ideal for overall wellness. However, reconsider drinking bottled water. The plastic containers may cause some bottled water to become tainted with chemicals and bacteria. Invest in an aluminum or BPA-free water bottle, or a water filter for your tap.
3. Squatting over toilet seats
The idea of sitting on a public toilet seat is gross, but according to one doctor, squatting may increase women’s risk of urinary tract infections. “Squatting causes the pelvic muscles to contract and tighten around the urethra,” says Elizabeth Kavaler, MD, urologist. This prevents the bladder from emptying all the way, setting up a perfect environment for UTIs. Instead of squatting, use the paper toilet liners most restrooms provide (or line with tissue) and have a seat.
4. Sitting up straight
Good posture is good for your health, but sitting up straight can also be bad for your back. Researchers found that sitting in a reclined position is best because it takes stress off of the spinal disks in the low back. Too much sitting – “sitting disease” – is also common and has been linked to serious health issues like heart disease. If you sit for long periods of time, take breaks to stand and walk around.
5. Catching up on sleep
Most of us are living for Friday just so we can rest and sleep on the weekends, but trying to catch up on sleep is like trying to catch the wind: you can’t! “It’s a myth that if we miss sleep over the course of the workweek we need to catch up on an hour-for-hour basis on the weekend,” says Gregory S. Carter, MD of UT Southwestern Medical Center.” The best thing you can do is get yourself in the habit of going to sleep earlier during the week and getting at least seven to nine restful hours of sleep a night.