Healthy Living: Are These Habits Really Healthy?


Cleanses involve fasting, drinking or eating only certain foods or drinks or taking supplements to remove toxins or lose weight.

Cleanses, sometimes called detoxes, involve fasting, drinking or eating only certain foods or drinks, or taking supplements or herbs in order to remove toxins from your body or lose weight. But they're more likely to cause harm than do good. There isn't much scientific evidence to back up their claims, and some programs can even be unsafe.

CALORIE COUNTING

Your body burns calories differently depending on what kind of food you eat and your metabolism.

It seems to make sense: Eat fewer calories, and you'll lose weight. But not all calories are equal. Your body burns them differently, depending on the kind of food you eat, your metabolism, and even the type of organisms living in your gut. A more sustainable plan for a healthy weight: quality foods, exercise, good sleep, and a doctor's guidance.

DAILY SHOWERS

Showering too frequently may strip your skin of protective oils and helpful bacteria.

Turns out you can overclean your body. Washing with soap every day can strip your skin of protective oils, leaving it dry and more prone to infection. And if you're using antibacterial soap, that risk goes up further -- you can kill off the "good" bacteria on your skin and lower your immunity. Switch to three to four showers a week instead.

LOW-FAT FOODS

Eating too many low-fat foods may mean you miss out on necessary fiber, protein and amino acids while consuming too many carbs.

Low-fat doesn't always mean healthy. Often when you subtract fat, you also cut fiber, protein, or amino acids from your diet while adding a lot of carbs. A better plan is to cut trans fats and saturated fats while keeping good fats from foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and salmon in your diet.

VITAMIN C FOR COLDS

Get your vitamin C from foods instead of supplements.

There's no doubt vitamin C is great for you. It's an antioxidant; builds skin, blood vessels, and bone; and helps wounds heal. But when it comes to treating colds, there's no proof it cures symptoms. Keep it in your diet, but take it off your cold remedy list.

BRUSHING AFTER A MEAL

Brush at least an hour after eating, especially if you've had acidic foods, to protect your tooth enamel.

Healthy teeth and gums are vital to overall good health. But when it comes to brushing, be smart about timing. Wait at least an hour after eating -- especially if you eat acidic foods or drink soda. That gives your enamel time to harden back up before you brush.

TAKING A DAILY MULTIVITAMIN

Rely on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy to get your nutritional needs met instead of a multivitamin.

While multivitamins aren't bad for you, they won't provide protection from heart disease, cancer, or mental decline. You'll get the same (or even better) nutritional benefit from a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.

ANTIOXIDANT SUPPLEMENTS

Get vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene from foods to help fight free radicals.

Your body needs antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene to help fight off free radicals -- chemicals that can damage cells and genes. But antioxidants in supplements aren't the same as the ones you get from food. To do their best, these free-radical fighters need to work along with nutrients, plant chemicals, and other antioxidants.

B12 INJECTIONS

B12 shots will not help with weight loss or energy if your levels are within a normal range.

If your vitamin B12 levels are low, shots and pills can help you with memory, trouble walking, and weakness. But they're not a general health boost for people with normal levels. Despite claims they can help you lose weight and have more energy, there's no proof you'll see these perks if your B12 levels are already fine.

MAKING THE BED

Use dust-proof allergen covers, wash sheets and blankets weekly, and remove carpet and curtains from the bedroom to fight dust mites.

A British study from 2005 reported that leaving your bed unmade could help reduce allergens in your house by getting rid of dust mites. But before you cross bed-making off your chore list, know that there's not much research to back these claims up. You're better off using dust-proof allergen covers, washing sheets and blankets weekly in hot water, and not using down comforters or pillows. Keep curtains, wall-to-wall carpeting, and upholstered furniture out of the bedroom, and use a quality filter in your air conditioner.

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