We all do things every day that harm our health. Some we know we shouldn’t, such as scarfing down that bag of chips at lunch. But, surprisingly, there are other common habits you may not have any clue are harmful.
Quit these health harming habits TODAY
Following are five common health harming habits you should stop today.
1. Using cotton swabs in your ears:
Let’s get this one out of the way first, because so many folks are guilty of it. NEVER use cotton swabs, such as Q-Tips, to clean out the inside of your ears.
Cotton swabs inserted into your ear can—and often do—cause injuries to the ear drum, hearing bones, or inner ear. This can lead to hearing loss, dizziness or balance problems later.
Plus by pushing wax deeper into your ear, cotton swabs can cause the problem you’re trying to correct to get even worse, clogging the canal and making it harder to hear.
Your ears are actually self-cleaning, and the wax they produce serves a very important purpose. Ear wax coats your ear canal to keep dirt, dust and dead skin cells from being pulled deeper into the ear. This helps prevent injury and infections.
If you’re bothered by wax in your ears make an appointment to see your doctor.
2. Brushing your teeth right after eating:
Many of the foods you eat contain acids that temporarily soften the enamel on your teeth. Brushing too soon after a meal or beverage can cause damage and acid erosion. According to the Mayo clinic you should wait for at least 30 minutes after eating before picking up your toothbrush.
And if you’re going to be eating acidic foods such as citrus fruits it’s better to brush before eating, and then drink a glass of water after. In fact, many dental pros suggest making brushing before you eat a regular habit, no matter the meal.
Toothpastes are actually designed to fight plaque, not remove food. If you’re bothered by food particles after eating, an oral irrigator—such as a Waterpik—should do the trick.
And while I hope you’ve already ditched soft drinks by now, if you haven’t avoiding enamel damage is one more great reason to do it. The phosphoric acid in sodas eat away at your teeth.
3. Eating artificial sweeteners:
I get it. Whether you’re dumping some of the pink stuff into your coffee, or drinking a diet soda, you made the switch to artificial sweeteners because you wanted to do something good for your health.
Most folks use artificial sweeteners because they want to lose some weight or avoid gaining any more. But unfortunately they will do neither of those things for you. In fact, studies stretching as far back as the 80s link these fake sugars to weight gain. And waist size goes UP not down when you regularly drink diet sodas.
Artificial sweeteners appear to effect insulin levels, according to experts. And they may increase your risk for type 2 diabetes too. Plus they can trigger sugar cravings. Unlike real sugar artificial sweeteners don’t signal your brain to release the satisfying dopamine your body expects when your taste buds detect something sweet.
The result? Overeating that causes you to gain even MORE weight.
4. Head to toe sunscreen before stepping outdoors:
Somewhere along the line perfectly sensible advice about avoiding skin cancer—such as preventing sunburns—warped into an all-out phobia about being exposed to sunshine. And we’re paying the price with our health.
Countless folks aren’t getting the sunshine they need to maintain healthy vitamin D levels, and everything from our heart health to our sex lives are suffering. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with heart disease, depression, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon and rectal cancers and more.
When your bare skin is exposed to sunlight your body turns the ultraviolet B (UVB) into vitamin D3, which gets shuttled to your liver where it’s converted into active vitamin D. This essential hormone then plays a role in everything from helping to build stronger bones to fighting cancer.
Stop avoiding the sun completely. Spend a little time every day outside with your arms and head exposed (legs too if you can, the more skin exposure the better). Just be sure to cover up and head for shade in about half the time it would take for your skin to start turning a bit pink if you’re fair skinned.
At least 10 minutes in the summer months is a good starting point. But the amount of time will vary with where you live, the time of year, and your skin tone, so you’ll need to use your own best judgment or check online for some guidance (the Vitamin D Council is a great resource). Your doctor can check your D levels for you with a simple blood test or you can look for a testing kit online.
5. Holding in your sneezes:
If you feel that familiar tickle that signals a sneeze is on the way, don’t try blocking it. Simply grab a tissue and sneeze into your elbow.
Sneezes, which travel at up to 100 miles an hour according to some experts, serve a purpose. Just like a reboot on your computer they reset your nasal passages. They clear them of irritants including dust, pollen, animal dander, pollutants and germs.
Blocking that nasal reset can lead to painful sinus infections, according to research published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. And in some extreme cases holding in sneezes has led to nose bleeds, nasal cartilage fractures and even detached retinas!