Vitamins, wholegrain foods and proper sleep are all part of a healthy lifestyle. But have you thought that some of the habits you consider healthy may actually be harmful?
Switching to diet drinks
It is definitely good to cut your refined sugar intake. This could be done in different ways, but the majority of people believe switching to diet drinks is the best course of action. While it may seem logical when you are also trying to lose weight, a recent US study has revealed that that the regular consumption of artificially-sweetened beverages could triple your risk of having a stroke or suffering from dementia.
The Boston University report reveals that diet drinks pose higher health risk than their non-diet counterparts. Furthermore, diet drinks may initially help you slim down but in the long term they cause sugar cravings, which eventually results in weight gain.
A study, published in the Diabetes journal, proves that diet drinks could cause people to pile on the pounds. The research has found that adults who drank daily diet drinks saw their waistlines expand five times more over a decade than their peers who did not drink any.
The good news is that there is a better alternative to both sugary and diet beverages. If you are addicted to soft drinks, try switching to sparkling water with a slice of lemon or orange for flavour.
Taking vitamins in the morning
Another potentially harmful habit is taking vitamins at breakfast.
Seven out of 10 people take their vitamins in the morning without realising that certain breakfast foods and drinks could prevent the proper absorption of the supplements. For example, the hot oatmeal can reduce the iron absorption threefold, while the polyphenols contained in coffee and tea can prevent the absorption of other valuable minerals such as zinc, magnesium and calcium.
The solution, according to nutritionist Dr. Sara Brewer, is to take your vitamins immediately after a meal, when the already activated stomach acids will help digest them. In fact, just a few bites of food before taking your vitamin pill will trigger the breakdown process.
Oh, and take your vitamins only with water. You also better wait at least 2 hours before drinking coffee, tea or other beverages.
We may all know this but it is worth being noted — one diet does not fit all. Do not follow all dieting advice without making sure they are right for you.
For example, you may have heard specialists’ popular advice to eat more whole grains. They certainly support good health, but if they cause you stomach bloating and gas formation, you may suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and it is better to replace them with foods that are suitable for your body’s digestive system.
As with food advice, we should also be careful with UV radiation protection.
Of course, I’m not telling you to stop using sunscreen… but do not forget about the importance of vitamin D, whose lack leads to depression. Recently, we discussed this matter at the “Beauty Avenue” show.
On the one hand, scientists have been exploring the link between sun exposure and skin cancer for over 20 years. Thus, we have been advised to use creams and lotions with a sun protective factor (SPF) to fight against the damaging effect of UV rays.
On the other hand, however, today most of us suffer from an extreme vitamin D deficiency. This is because our bodies rely on sun exposure to make 90% of this vitamin, which is essential for healthy bones and a strong immune system. Furthermore, there is mounting evidence that vitamin D is also important for a healthy heart.
What to do then? According to dermatologist Johanna Ward, the solution is to take vitamin D as a supplement.
Nutritionist Rob Hobson reveals another common “healthy” mistake — swapping sugar for honey due to its nutritional benefits.
“Although it is a natural sweetener, honey still contains 17 grams of sugar in a teaspoon, which is more than twice as much as the recommended intake of 6 grams per day,” Hobson notes. He adds that honey contains valuable minerals, such as iron, but we have to eat at least 123 teaspoons to get even a small amount.
Syrups are no better either — they are denser than sugar, so excessive consumption would eventually affect your health and weight. So, no matter what type of sweetener you use, use it in moderation.
Getting too much sleep
Lastly, a mistake we often make is oversleeping.
Yes, our bodies need sleep to recover, but sleeping more than 10 hours a night is just as harmful as the lack of sleep. Scientists from the American Association of Sleep reveal that the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, stroke or diabetes is higher among people who oversleep.
Furthermore, people forced to stay in bed for 2 additional hours a night suffer of back pain, depression and inflammatory processes. According to Professor Shawn Youngstedt, all this is due to the longer period of inactivity.
Scientists agree 7 hours of sleep are optimal for adults. And if you struggle falling asleep, try keeping the hour before bed screen-free – that means no TV, tablets or smartphones.