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.
Here are 11 habits that are not as beneficial as you think they are:
1. Using a standing desk
A recent long-term study looking at data on nearly 4,000 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!
2. Using toilet-seat liners
Viruses like HIV and herpes are fragile, meaning they don’t survive very well outside a nice, warm human body. By the time you sit down on a public toilet seat — even one that was recently used by someone else — most harmful pathogens probably won’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.
3. Avoiding gluten
Unless you’re among the 1 per cent of Americans who suffer from celiac disease, gluten probably 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.
4. Swapping dairy for almond milk
Alternatives to dairy milk have been surging in popularity in the past 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 per cent 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 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.
6. Slathering on hand sanitiser
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.
7. Holding your breath after someone sneezes or coughs
When people sneeze or cough without covering their mouth or nose, bacteria enter the air at speeds approaching 50 to 200 mph.
If you’re nearby, holding your breath won’t do much good in preventing them from landing on your mouth, nose, or eyes. It’ll stop you from pulling in any bacteria hanging directly in front of your face, but that’s about it.
8. Taking tons of vitamin C to ward off a cold
While a little extra vitamin C can boost an underperforming immune system, taking too much will make you sick.
The upper limit for an adult is 2,000 milligrams a day. Any more than that will most likely cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, headaches and other side effects.
9. Taking multivitamins
Regardless that many people take vitamins daily, decades’ worth of research hasn’t found any justification for the pill-popping habit.
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!
10. 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.