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Healthy habits that aren’t so healthy

Now more than ever, there is a lot of health advice given on a daily basis by the media, the Internet, by experts and by random people. But before you consider adopting various tips, you may first want to reassess them as some could be ineffective or worse still, harm your body, writes Evelyn Makena

1. Sleeping in on the weekends

Getting enough sleep and good health go hand in hand. And it makes sense to want to compensate for the lost sleep during the week on a weekend. However, getting extra zzzs on the weekend may throw the sleep schedule into confusion for the next few

days and make one wake up feeling groggy. Try waking up and going to sleep the same time of the day. To catch up on the lost sleep, you could take naps in between the day.

2. Cleaning the ears

Cleaning the ear feels so good. That combined with the need to get rid of the gooey and messy wax, gets people sticking cotton swabs and other objects inside the ear. Turns the ear is a self-cleaning organ, which relies on wax to keep out dirt and dust.

Cleaning the ear with cotton swabs or other objects is, therefore, counter productive. It gets rid of the ears protection from dirt and risks pushing the wax further in causing earache, hearing loss, and itchiness. There is no harm in wiping wax from the outside of the ear but one should not stick anything in the ear canal.

3. Juicing

Drinking fruits or vegetables in juice form as opposed to eating them has become a buzzword in the healthy living circles. Juices are believed to have a detoxifying effect and also help the body better absorb nutrients. A past survey by the Harvard School of Public Health, USA, however, found juices to be a less healthy option compared to real fruits.

The juicing process destroys beneficial compounds, antioxidants and removes fruits natural fibre. Due to the absence of fibre to slow down the absorption of fruit sugar, juices were found to increase the risk of diabetes and child obesity.

4. Brushing the teeth immediately after a meal

Brushing your teeth less than an hour after eating could be doing more damage than good.  Enamel, usually a hard substance works to protect the teeth. But acids accumulated from food wear away the enamel causing cavities.

When taking acidic foods, the acid levels are high and the teeth are at their weakest. Brushing right after a meal accelerates the breakdown of the enamel. One is advised to brush at least 30 minutes to an hour after eating to allow the saliva naturally stabilise the PH levels in the mouth.

5. Putting on sunscreen

Applying sunscreen daily prevents sunburns, enhances a healthier skin, prevents premature aging and lowers the risks of contracting some cancers. But you need to be aware of the ingredients.

Certain chemical compounds such as octinoxate often used in sunscreen and skin care products are classified as a huge health hazard. Dermatologists recommend choosing sunscreens that physically block the harmful UV rays and are not absorbed into the skin such as those with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. 

6. Overly cleaning the vagina

Many products that promise to keep the vagina ‘clean’ have emerged in the recent past. It’s a rather ridiculous promise to make, especially given that the vagina is self-cleaning and interfering with the natural way of doing things can cause more harm.

By excessive cleaning the vagina with the hygiene products, one risks itching, irritation and infections by disrupting the natural balance of bacteria. For healthy results, it’s advisable that one uses water and unperfumed soap to gently wash this area.

7. Avoiding all carbs

Reducing the carbs intake is believed cause weight loss. Actually, by getting rid of the potatoes, chapatis, mandazis and bread the scale will go down. However, since carbohydrates are the body’s source of readily available fuel, a no carbs diet means low energy levels and an irritable mood. One should never completely eliminate carbs from the diet.

8. Eating several meals a day

Feeding the body every two to three hours means that it burns fuel from the food eaten as opposed to utilising its fat reserves. When the small regular meals are healthy, the body stays energised all day and does not store fat.

But if the small meals are high in sugar, one ends up consuming more food, little micronutrients and have frequent hunger pangs since sugar is fast burning. Simply put, eating frequently does not encourage the body to burn fat. Having three meals on the other hand forces the body to burn the fat to produce energy.

9. Using hand sanitiser

Hand sanitisers offer a quick and easy way to clean hands even in the absence of water. But by using these products, one risks killing both good and bad bacteria that covers the body.

Soap and water still remains a more effective way of eliminating certain germs. Prolonged use of hand sanitisers could result in antibiotic resistant bacteria. Hand sanitisers ought to be used sparingly and only in situations that warrant it.

10. Strict ‘clean’ diet

The obsession to eat ‘clean’ is an issue of concern. It may lead to eating disorders including orthorexia, which is unhealthy obsession with clean eating. Such strict diets are also not sustainable and only beget short-term results. Consult a professional dietician or nutritionist to help figure out a more effective and sustainable eating plan.

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