7 surprising bad habits you need to give up in 2014

7 surprising bad habits you need to give up in 20147 surprising bad habits you need to give up in 2014

Catching up on sleep

When the world has been spinning on fast-forward and you’ve been scrimping on sleep to keep up with it, having a good lie-in is the responsible thing to do, right? Not always. Catching up on sleep over the weekend may cause headaches, “due to the effect oversleeping has on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin”, explain health experts at Web MD

Grazing on food all day long

We often hear that the secret to staying svelte is small, frequent meals throughout the day. However, a study undertaken by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has revealed that those of us who graze in a 14-16 hour time frame may be making ourselves fat. Instead, “our bodies metabolize calories much better if we eat during the daytime, within a 10- to 12-hour range," says one of the Salk Institute researchers. So for example, if you have breakfast at 7 am, try to have your tea before 7pm to enable your body to burn calories more effectively.

Squatting over the toilet seat

Who wants to sit on the same toilet seat as every other person who’s done their business there before us? Not us! But seat-squatting increases your risk of contracting a urinary tract infection (UTI). Indeed, “squatting causes the pelvic muscles to contract and tighten around the urethra. This prevents the bladder from emptying fully. Relaxed pelvic muscles will optimize flow and flush out bacteria", explains urologist Elizabeth Kavaler, MD.  In 2014, stop the squatting and put some toilet paper on the seat before you sit down instead.

Brushing your teeth

We all know that brushing our teeth is essential for good oral hygiene, but brushing them too often or too vigorously can increase your risk of tooth decay, as well as darkened teeth and thinner enamel. “To avoid these problems, brush (and floss) gently twice a day”, advises Freeman.

Cleaning your kitchen

Giving your kitchen a good scrub down with a cloth can “increase rather than reduce exposure to E. coli, salmonella, and other disease-causing microbes”, warns Freeman. This happens when the cloth you use spreads “virulent bacteria around the kitchen. […] Imagine all the bacteria dividing and happily munching on spoiled food since the sponge’s last use”, says Margaret Lewin from Weil Medical College in New York. Instead, Lewin suggests wetting the cloth you plan to clean with and blasting it in the microwave for 60 seconds to rid it of bacteria.

Always ordering salad

When happily munching our way through a colourful salad, it’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking we’re eating a low-fat, healthy meal. However, restaurant and take-away salads can be more fattening than you might think. We’re not suggesting you scratch salad off the menu; it’s good for you – but not if it’s dripping in sour cream and sprinkled with croutons.  To ensure your salad is healthy, either make your own or avoid the fatty add-ons when you eat out.

Getting a “base tan” before going on holiday

Building up a “base tan” before you jet off for a sun-soaked holiday isn’t going to help protect you from the sun when you get there.  This myth is put to bed by June Robinson, MD, from the Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, who explains: “the pigmentation in tanned skin amounts only to an SPF of about 4, so getting a base tan provides almost no additional protection from the sun”. So whether you get a tan before you go on holiday, or whilst you’re there, the sun is still bad for you.

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SWAP: Sandwiches for wraps

Nutritionist Vicki Edgson says: "Commercial bread is full of sugar (amongst other things) to guarantee rising and make the loads uniform."

As flat breads don't need to rise ... more 
SWAP: Sandwiches for wraps

Nutritionist Vicki Edgson says: "Commercial bread is full of sugar (amongst other things) to guarantee rising and make the loads uniform."

As flat breads don't need to rise they don't have as much sugar, so opt for these at lunchtime. less 
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Rex Features
Thu, Sep 5, 2013 15:00 BST