11 Habits that Damage Our Health Without Us Even Knowing

10 months ago

Things we’re used to aren’t always as simple as they seem. Some of them are harmful, and others may be downright dangerous.

Bright Side made a list of 11 ordinary things we do that can cause damage to our health, with us none the wiser. Take care!

1. Crossing your legs

The first to speak about the harm caused by crossing your legs in was a food complement manufacturing company in 1999. They even launched a large-scale campaign in the US called The Great Cross-Out, which wasn’t just an ad trick: numerous studies confirm that sitting with your legs crossed (on a chair or on the floor) results in hypertension, varicose veins, and nerve damage.

2. Feeding birds

Feeding pigeons is one of the favorite outdoor activities parents like to do with their kids. Unfortunately, it’s not only fun, but also dangerous. The chances of a city bird carrying a contagious disease are more than 50%. Pigeons carry ornithosis, colibacillosis, histoplasmosis, salmonellosis, tuberculosis, listeriosis, rabbit fever, Newcastle disease, toxoplasmosis... Are you sure you want to know the full list?

3. Wearing poor quality sunglasses

In their striving to save money, manufacturers use cheap plastic that doesn’t protect your eyes from UV, which, in bright sunlight, can lead to retinal burn. The shading makes your pupils dilate and receive a double dose of ultraviolet, which is even more harmful than not wearing sunglasses at all. Excess UV may cause cataracts, damage your eyes, or even result in cancer.

4. Drinking lots of water

Yes, you read that right: drinking a lot of water isn’t always healthy, although so is drinking too little. Researchers insist that the body’s water needs are individual. If you move a lot and do sports, drink more; if you have kidney or cardiovascular issues, better drink less. In either case, the best way to find your daily requirement is thirst — if you don’t feel it, then don’t push it.

5. Treating yourself with a hot water bottle

Applying cold or heat to a painful spot is our favorite way to relieve pain, but there is a whole list of ailments that specifically do not require use of hot water bottles. These include bleeding, acute inflammation in the abdomen (appendicitis, cholecystitis, pancreatitis), and in the first few hours and few days after a sprain or injury. Thermal procedures are also harmful as cancer treatment.

6. Preparing popcorn in a microwave

It’s not about the way you cook it — it’s about the contents of the corn for home use. The danger here is in a chemical called diacetyl. It’s a synthetic oil and a flavoring 2-in-1. Vaporizing when heated, it gets into your lungs and damages them. You can reduce the risk to your lungs by letting the popcorn cool down before eating it.

7. Eating at your work desk

There are various different kinds of work place, yet most of them aren’t suited to eating and, more dangerous still, accumulate tons of bacteria that aren’t exactly good for your digestion. If that’s not enough for you, remember that the smell of your food may bother your colleagues, your brain needs rest, your legs need a workout, and your stomach can’t digest food because your brain isn’t concentrating on consuming it.

8. Wearing open footwear in cities

Wearing open everything is a must in summer, including footwear, as many think. What are the risks, though? There is a good chance that you’ll get your feet cut in open shoes, and any small wound, be it an insect bite or a blister, is easily infected. And that infection may spread to your whole body eventually.

9. Drinking fat-free milk

It may seem to be same as milk just without the fat, but it actually isn’t. Zero-fat milk is not even close to regular milk in terms of usefulness. When fats are extracted from milk, vitamins go with them, replaced by synthetic substances that aren’t quite good for you. Many manufacturers "strengthen" fat-free milk by adding milk powder, which may oxidize the cholesterol in milk. There isn’t any clinical evidence yet, but animals consuming oxidized cholesterol have been known to have experienced a build up of arterial plaque that could increase the risk of heart attack.

10. Not minding your posture

Ekaterina Gapanovich

Correct posture means the symmetrical position of all the organs. Take care of your spine — adjust your office chair and monitor it correctly. Here’s the checklist:

  • The height of your chair should correspond with the length of your thigh, and its seat should be firm.
  • Your buttocks should fill no less than 2/3 of the chair.
  • The back of your chair should fit your spine.
  • Lean on the chair with your back so that your spine is placed firmly against it.
  • Make sure your shoulder blades are brought together, your shoulders are on the same level, and your stomach is relaxed.
  • Don’t cross your legs — this will hinder your blood circulation.
  • Move smoothly so that your spine doesn’t hit the back of the chair.
  • Take up a position that puts your weight onto your hips while your head looks forward and up.
  • Don’t hurry to change your pose when you start feeling uncomfortable. Let your muscles get used to the correct position. Part of them will gradually relax, making this pose a habit, but that won’t happen at once.

11. Sleeping on your side or stomach

Many of us prefer sleeping in a position we fall asleep better in. However, this habit can cause different health issues, some of them quite serious if not addressed in a timely manner. When you sleep on your side, in the so-called foetal position, you prevent your diaphragm from moving freely, which causes various issues, including back pain and lung problems. Sleeping on your stomach is, in its turn, even more dangerous as it puts pressure on all of your organs, leading in the long run to nerve damage and heart issues. That leaves sleeping on your back, which is best because it is the most natural of the three. The only case where you should avoid this position is if you suffer from sleep apnea.

Illustrated by Alena Tsarkova for Bright Side
Based on materials from Top 10s


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Thanks for the sleeping advice but it's almost impossible to fall asleep on your back.


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