Healthy Things That Actually Hurt You

    5. “Saving” Calories For Later

    “Women have gotten into the habit of saving their calories for the fun stuff later on,” says Danine Fruge, MD, associate medical director at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Miami. For example, many people will hold off on eating lunch so that they can have a few glasses of wine to unwind at the end of the day. Not a problem as long as you’re carefully allocating your calories, right?

    “Unfortunately when you don’t eat breakfast or lunch you can develop cravings and irritability, which can lead to overeating later on in the day,” she explains.

    A smarter approach to eating: Fill up on protein-packed meals and nutrient-rich snacks that’ll keep your satisfied all day, so when dinnertime or cocktail hour rolls around you won’t be tempted to fill your plate with calorie-rich and high-fat foods.

    6. Only Drinking Bottled Water

    By reaching for a bottle of H20 you may think you’re doing your body some good by avoiding tap water, which can be filled with who-knows-what. But that’s not the case.

    “Bottled water contains no fluoride, and we’re seeing more and more adults suffer from a fluoride deficiency, which can lead to tooth decay,” says Dr. Diamond. “Instead, fill your glass with water purified by a Brita or PUR water filtration system” which will keep your water free from impurities commonly found in tap water, but still allow you to reap the benefits of fluoride.

    7. Cleaning With Disinfecting Products

    While keeping your home pristine and germ-free may seem like the path to perfect health, using cleansers that boast antibacterial or disinfecting properties could have the opposite effect.

    “These products haven’t been proven to be any more effective than regular cleaning products, and there is significant evidence that the chemicals in these disinfecting cleansers—called quaternary ammonium compounds––can lead to asthma,” says Rebecca Sutton, PhD, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group.

    Other cleaning product chemicals to avoid include 2-butoxyethanol, which the Environmental Protection Agency considers a human carcinogen and has been linked to cancer; alkylphenol ethoxylates, which can disrupt hormones; and ethanolamines, which can cause asthma. But because cleaning product companies aren’t required to list most ingredients on their product labels (you can call or go online instead), it can be tough to know what to buy.

    Dr. Sutton emphasizes that when it comes to ousting germs, the key is cleaning often and thoroughly—not blasting every surface with the harshest cleaner you can find. “Your goal should be to clean regularly,” says Dr. Sutton. “That way you’ll get rid of dirt, so there’s no place for bacteria to grow.”

    8. Taking Too Many Nutritional Supplements

    When it comes to vitamins and minerals, more is better, right? Not always, says Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, professor emeritus at Georgia State University.

    “People often take nutritional supplements without really understanding what they’re consuming, or if they really need them.”

    A 2009 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that in the absence of a deficiency, eating food instead of taking supplements should be the primary way to fulfill nutritional requirements and deliver health benefits. Dr. Rosenbloom also notes that because so many foods are fortified these days, chances are many of us don’t have any major nutritional deficiencies.

    There are also more serious side effects of carelessly popping pills: Vitamin A in large amounts can be toxic to a developing fetus, vitamin C in large doses can cause gastrointestinal distress as well as interfere with glucose readings in people on diabetes medications and too much vitamin B6 can cause nerve damage. If you do learn that supplements are the best choice to remedy a deficiency, look for “USP” printed on the label, which signifies that the pill meets the standards of the testing organization U.S. Pharmacopeia.

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