We all have our daily habits, and some of them are considered to be beneficial to our health and wellbeing. However, things are not always as straight forward as advertising and media lets us believe.
Drinking Diet or Zero Sugar Drinks
Due to their name, it would make sense to assume that drinking diet or zero sugar drinks are the healthier alternatives to their non-diet, full sugar counterparts. This may be true in regards to the sugar levels and the number of calories these alternatives offer, however, a review by the Imperial College London claims that there is “no solid evidence” that low-calorie sweeteners (something that diet and zero sugar drinks are full of) are any better for weight-loss.
In fact, an American review suggests that the artificial sweeteners contained by these diet drinks could have side effects that can lead to serious health problems such as weight gain, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar level, abnormal cholesterol levels, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Another issue that can sometimes come to light when consuming diet drinks is the compensation behaviour, where people believe that by swapping their regular sugary drink for a diet ‘healthier’ version, they can compensate by either having more of it or some other, often very unhealthy food.
Instead of having to make a choice between sugary or diet drinks, why not opt for a healthier alternative, the Telegraph suggests water or tea (either green or herbal).
Exercise can be undeniably great for you. It can provide a huge number of health benefits and can drastically reduce the risk of developing many health issues including type 2 diabetes and depression. However, over-exercising can have negative side-effects on your health and wellbeing.
Over-training is when an individual attempts to work out more than they can physically tolerate, their bodies requiring more than the standard 2-3 days’ rest. It can be dangerous as some people do not even realise that they are over-training until they reach a stage where they cannot continue and need a few weeks to recover.
Some common signs of over-exercising are insomnia, depression, an increase in sickness, and an increased number of injuries.
It’s difficult to tell how much exercise is too much as it all depends on the individual, however, there are steps that can be taken to prevent over-training. An article from the Telegraph recommends that you, ensure that you always rest, recover, replenish your fluids and sleep well.
The NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and strength exercises per week, over two or more days, for adults aged 19+, including for those over the age of 65.
Showering Every day
Whilst many believe that a daily shower may be the best way of staying clean and healthy, research has suggested that it could lead to health problems. Daily showers may have evolved not out of necessity, but following the social norms of how people are expected to behave and to smell.
The Genetic Science Centre at the University of Utah claim that daily showers can damage something called the human microbiome, which is a collection of bacteria and other microbes that live on your body and are essential to your health. Research has shown that disrupting these “microbial ecosystems” can cause harm to the immune system, digestion and even the heart.
Not only is a daily shower thought to be potentially damaging to the microbiome, it could also be damaging to the skin by making it dry because the natural oils found on the skin surface are washed away. This can lead to cracked skin allowing germs to slip through, potentially leading to infection.
An assistant professor of dermatology at George Washington University suggests that we only need to shower once or twice a week, if you frequently wash your hands, armpits and nether-regions as these are the areas that produce strong smelling secretions.
Removing Fat from Your Diet
We have been repeatedly told that fat is bad for us, leading many people to opt for the low or no fat options when it comes to food. This could potentially be counterproductive and cutting out fat from the diet could be bad for an individual’s health. The NHS states that “a small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy balanced diet” as fats are a good source of energy for our bodies. They recommend various sources of unsaturated fats (good fats) such as nuts, avocados, oily fish and extra virgin olive oil rather than the options which generally contain high amounts of saturated fats (bad fat) such as fatty cuts of meat and cheese.
An option that has become increasingly popular nowadays is the purchasing of reduced or low fat foods. While it’s true that these options contain lower amounts of fat, research has shown that a lot of these low fat options have a tendency to contain more sugar (in some cases over five times more than their full fat counterparts).
For a healthy diet, rather than completely avoiding fat, it is recommended by the BHF that individuals should try to consume less saturated fat. However, nutritionist Christine Bailey has claimed that if you are not getting enough fat in your diet, you could experience symptoms of depression, dry or ageing skin, behavioural problems and even difficulty losing weight. Further research is still required in this area.
Making a small change to your life by improving on some of these habits may not have an immediate effect on your general health and wellbeing, but research suggests they could make a significant difference in the long term.