AV 041 – Surprising Daily Habits That Are Harming Your Health
We are constantly under an influence of media promoting products that are promising tons of benefits, convenience and the ability to save us time.
However very little attention is paid to health and safety of them. Before we know it some of the advice will even become deeply ingrained habits we think are doing us good, but are actually hindering our health!
Below are ten of the most common daily habits that are actually wreaking havoc on people’s health and well-being.
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1. Using Hand Sanitizer
Lately, it seems that every supermarket has a hand-sanitizing station conveniently displayed near the doors. In fact, the trend of using hand sanitizers has really ramped up in recent years, with more people carrying around their own personal-size versions.
And why not? Hand sanitizers seem like the perfect way to stay clean and disinfect on the go and don’t seem to have any downside. Unfortunately, there are some hidden downfalls lurking in supposedly “clean” hand sanitizers that could lead to trouble with regular and repeated use.
While we want to keep our hands clean, we don’t necessarily need antibacterial hand sanitizer or hand soap. Many products that are labeled “antibacterial” contain chemicals that are detrimental to our health.
Triclosan, a commonly used agent, is an endocrine disruptor that interferes with the proper functioning of vital hormones like thyroid. It is linked to detrimental effects on the nervous system as well as to allergies and asthma. Beyond its direct effect on your health, it may also contribute to antibiotic resistance.
Triclosan can be absorbed through the skin and has been found in the urine of 75 percent of Americans sampled. But for all of that risk, there’s not even sufficient evidence showing that it is effective. The FDA is working to review the research on triclosan and has concluded that it is no more effective than regular soap and water at removing bacteria and provides no additional benefits.However, it may take time to remove this ingredient from products on the market, so check labels to make sure you’re not exposing yourself to it.
While not as convenient or trendy, getting back to basics and just using soap and water is really a better, time-tested way to clean your hands. But there are also natural hand sanitizers appearing on the market which don’t contain yucky chemicals. It’s always nice to support companies that create products that have ingredients in them that you can actually pronounce.
2. Diet Soda
There are few foods on the planet that offer absolutely zero nutritional value, and soda is one of them. I’m always surprised at how many people ask me if diet soda is really that bad for you. If you’re not convinced, here are some facts that hopefully will help you to ditch soda forever!
- It messes with your skin
- It could lead to weight gain, not weight loss
- It’s associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes
- It ruins your teeth
- It alters your mood
Find a refreshing substitute for your diet soda habit, such as sparkling water with some lemon or lime juice. By replacing your diet sodas with real water you hydrate and cleanse your body, which helps reduce cravings. Often cravings for junk food are just a disguise for thirst. If caffeine is what you crave then try iced coffee or tea instead
3. Energy Bars
Most energy bars are intended for very active people or for those who are serious about their workouts — some are intended as meal replacements. Some energy bars are more like candy bars, sneaking saturated fats,sugar and hydrogenated oils into their ingredients — the calories can be equal to a popular chocolate candy bars.
Calorie to calorie, a Powerbar Protein Plus Chocolate Brownie energy bar, for example, has 360 calories while a Snickers bar, in comparison, has 250 calories. Unless you’re engaging in high-intensity training workouts, neither is a good snack option. Both have more sugar than most adults need in one day!
Make sure the energy bars you enjoy on are snack-sized — that’s between 100 and 200 calories per bar — and keep the sugar and carbohydrates low. Compare nutrition labels to find natural, whole food bars. And if you’re engaging in high-intensity workouts, look for energy bars that deliver a good protein source.
4. Sports Drinks
If you’re paying attention to eat well, don’t derail that healthy diet with sports drinks. Sports and energy drinks are popular among adults and teens, and in 2011, Americans spent roughly $9 billion on them [source: Johnson]. But what you’re getting is more sugar and more empty calories — for many people it’s more than what they’re burning (and that’s what leads to weight gain).
Let’s look at two popular sports drinks. One bottle (20 ounces) of Powerade contains 125 calories and 34 grams of sugar, which is about 8 teaspoons of sugar. Compare that to 20 ounces of Gatorade, which contains 130 calories and 35 grams of sugar, about 8.3 teaspoons of sugar, and you’ll begin to see why nutritionists recommend water over sports drinks. Just like energy bars, sports drinks are designed for replenishing the bodies of athletes; if you’re not engaged in high-intensity activity, you can skip them.
Stay hydrated with infused water, coconut water or make your own post workout recovery drink – check out this recipe.
5. Multigrain bread
Words like “multigrain” “wheat” and “7 grain” don’t mean all that much. Many breads labeled this way actually contained refined grains, which lack the fiber of whole grains and can make your blood sugar spike faster after eating, leading to cravings.
Be a smarter bread shopper! If the first flour listed on the label is refined (look for “bleached” or “unbleached enriched wheat flour”), it’s not really a whole grain product. Also don’t be fooled by the colour of the bread. Just because it’s nice and dark, doesn’t always mean it’s wholesome. Many companies use coloring and fillers (like molasses) to make their product appear “healthier”. Sneaky marketing, huh?
Just let’s examine:
“Wonder Bread, Soft, 100% Whole Wheat”
INGREDIENTS: Whole wheat flour, water, wheat gluten, high fructose corn syrup, contains 2% of less of: soybean oil, salt, molasses, yeast, mono and diglycerides, exthoxylated mono and diglycerides, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium iodate, calcium dioxide), datem, calcium sulfate, vinegar, yeast nutrient (ammonium sulfate), extracts of malted barley and corn, dicalcium phosphate, diammonium phosphate, calcium propionate (to retain freshness).
Seriously what is diammonium phosphate and what is it doing in my bread???
Look for whole grain sprouted breads, read the ingredients, it should look more like this:
Ezekiel Sprouted Whole Grain Bread
Ingredients: Organic Sprouted Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Spelt, Fresh Yeast, Organic Wheat Gluten, Sea Salt.
6. Reduced-fat Peanut Butter
Reading the nutrition label on your jar of peanut butter may surprise you — it’s a go-to food in many homes in North America, and it’s also high in calories and fat. Don’t let those two things stop you from indulging, though. Just be smart about the type you do eat.
Reduced-fat peanut butters may sound like a good idea. Less fat is good, right? The trouble with reduced-fat peanut butters is they usually make up for their loss with added sugar, which is not an improved trade over fat. Two tablespoons of Skippy creamy peanut butter, for example, contains 16 grams of total fat and 3 grams of sugars, while the reduced-fat version has 12 grams of total fat and 4 grams of sugars. Too much sugar in your diet can lead to insulin sensitivity or high blood sugar, which may lead to type 2 diabetes and other health problems.
The best nut butters are the most natural. People often complain that natural peanut butter is not as ceamy. Realy? Well there is a reason for that. For you to enjoy the “creaminess” you are also ingesting whole bunch of crap!!!!
Look at the ingredient list:
Skippy LOW FAT version:
INGREDIENTS: ROASTED PEANUTS, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, SUGAR, SOY PROTEIN, SALT, HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OILS (COTTONSEED, SOYBEAN AND RAPESEED) TO PREVENT SEPARATION, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, MINERALS (MAGNESIUM OXIDE, ZINC OXIDE, FERRIC ORTHOPHOSPHATE, COPPER SULFATE), VITAMINS (NIACINAMIDE, PYRIDOXIDE HYDROCHLORIDE, FOLIC ADIC).
Now lets look at Adams 100% natural peanut butter:
INGREDIENTS: PEANUTS, SALT
Always look at the nutritional label, check for the ingredients before you buy. Tip: After opening, stir your nut butter well and store it in the fridge. Also try to make your own nut butters, that will allow you to be creative, adding cocoa, cinnamon, cardamon and so on into the mix. Check this out: ROASTED CHOCOLATE CINNAMON ALMOND BUTTER
7. Dryer sheets
…and liquid fabric softener are full of toxic chemicals. Chemicals that sneak it’s way into the clothes we wear, which in turn get on our skin and absorbed into our body. Time to ditch dryer sheets!
According to the health and wellness website Sixwise.com, some of the most harmful ingredients in dryer sheets and liquid fabric softener alike include benzyl acetate (linked to pancreatic cancer), benzyl alcohol (an upper respiratory tract irritant), ethanol (linked to central nervous system disorders), limonene (a known carcinogen) and chloroform (a neurotoxin and carcinogen), among others.
Since fabric softeners are designed to stay in your clothes for extended periods of time, such chemicals can seep out gradually and be inhaled or absorbed directly through the skin. Liquid fabric softeners are slightly preferable to dryer sheets, as the chemicals in dryer sheets get released into the air when they are heated up in the dryer and can pose a respiratory health risk to people both inside and outside the home.
7 Non-toxic alternatives to conventional dryer sheets:
- Add 1/4-1/2 cup of vinegar to your wash.
- Add baking soda to the wash-cycle.
- Air dry your clothing.
- Try adding a ball of aluminum foil in the dryer. (I have never personally tried this method, so I can’t vouch for their effectiveness.)
- Use wool balls (where to buy) to use in place of dryer sheets. You can add a safety pin to the wool ball to also help with the static.
- Make your own. Grab a cloth, spray vinegar or essential oils such as lemon or lavender (where to buy therapeutic grade essential oils) and toss in the dryer with your clothing. Additionally, you can add a safety pin as well.
- Lastly, if you feel that you still need to buy some dryer sheets, there are a number of green fabric softeners (where to buy) on the market that are made with natural scents or are scent-free.
8. Toxic Shower Curtains
Did you know that many PVC (plastic) shower curtains contains nasty chemicals that can be released into the air?
Yes you read it correctly many shower curtains and shower curtain liners are made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, which contains a number of toxic chemicals. If your shower curtain has that “new shower curtain smell,” you can be pretty sure that it was made with PVC. The chemicals released , may cause respiratory irritation; damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys; nausea, headaches, and lack of coordination. The most common symptoms that occur with exposure to such chemicals include eye irritation, nose and throat discomfort, breathing problems, allergic skin reactions, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness and nosebleeds.
The solution is to avoid shower curtains and liners made with PVCs. Instead, look for PVC-free shower curtains, which are widely available. A number of major retailers plan to offer more PVC-free shower curtains and two, Ikea and Marks & Spencer, are switching over to PVC-free products. You can also find products made out of organic cotton and hemp.
9. Toothpaste and Mouthwash
Would you allow your family to brush their teeth with engine degreaser or rat poison? The fact is, they probably are and you don’t even know it.
Dental hygiene products that you and your children use every day may contain toxins that have been linked to cancer, blindness, and even death. Have you checked out the ingredients in your toothpaste or mouthwash lately?
Many name-brand toothpastes and mouthwashes contain potentially harmful ingredients, which are made up of very small molecules that may penetrate through the tissue of your mouth, enter the blood stream, and build up in the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, and tissues. Over time it can really add up and cost serious health challenges.
Did you ever wonder why manufacturers are required to put the warning label on toothpastes?
Just read the label on any major brand toothpaste or mouthwash. You’ll see they are loaded with dangerous toxins and chemicals such as sodium fluoride, triclosan, FD&C Blue Dye #1 and 2, sodium lauryl sulfate, and hydrated silica. All of these common ingredients have been found to be harmful to humans.
Sodium Fluoride: One of the main ingredients in rat poison and toothpaste!
Many people are probably aware that most toothpaste and many mouth rinses contain fluoride because that’s what dentists have recommended for years to prevent cavities. But did you know that most popular toothpastes contain enough fluoride in four ounces to kill a small child within 2 to 4 hours?
Ok enough scary info, what is our alternative?
Health risks from chemicals and toxins in oral hygiene products are the most avoidable of all the health risks we face. You don’t have to be a biochemist to get these risks out of your life. It’s as simple as changing brands.
10. Teflon coated products
Nonstick cookware has been a real time saver in our kitchens. Unfortunately there’s some serious health concerns associated with Teflon and in particular a chemical that it releases in certain conditions called PFOA.
While its use is slowly being phased out, unless you’ve recently purchased cookware that is specifically labeled PFOA-free, then it’s likely that the nonstick pans in your kitchen are a source of this potentially dangerous chemical.
PFOA and other hazardous toxins have been shown to be released from nonstick cookware when heated to high temperatures.
These kind of temperatures aren’t that hard to reach if you leave a pan on the hot plate for a while or heat it up on a high setting. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually have to use metal utensils on your nonstick cookware for it to be dangerous.
2010 research found higher blood levels of PFOA to be associated with a greater risk of thyroid disease – a serious health issue that has skyrocketed in recent years. Studies have also linked exposure to the chemical to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, even at relatively low levels.
These are longer-term serious health concerns, but heated Teflon can have a more immediate effect on your body. High-temperature cooking with these type of pans can lead to a condition known as ‘Teflon flu’ from inhaling the gases released over your hot plate.
Symptoms of Teflon flu are actually said to be quite similar to suddenly developing influenza, with headaches, chills and fever, along with coughing and chest tightness.
While there are a growing number of new cookware options on the market, we don’t know enough about them to know if they’re safe — even if they’re advertised as “green” or “not non-stick.” We continue to recommend cast iron and stainless steel cookware as safer options for stove-top cooking, and oven-safe glass or SilPat non-stick mat for baking. These safer pans might be a little harder to clean, but your health is worth it.
Alright, did we overwhelm you with all the info? Please don’t get scared and turn your back to what you have just learned. If you’ve made it all the way here I suspect you are interested in improving your own and your family’s well-being.
You don’t need to aim for a complete transformation all at once. Small changes in your daily habits can make a big difference in your overall health.
Dedicated to you health & well-being