1. Touching Your Face
People often fail to notice when they rub their eyes or scratch their chin, especially when they’re too preoccupied with work or some other activity. In fact, most people don’t even suspect that this seemingly-harmless and very intuitive habit can actually make them sick.
Doctors point out that, in most cases, viruses get into our bodies through the mouth and nose, and we’re the ones introducing them to our bodies. By rubbing your nose and eyes, or by biting your nails you are letting the bacteria and viruses migrate into your body, especially when you’re in a public space.
Apart from introducing the flu and other infections, touching your face can cause acne, as well as worsen already-existing acne by spreading it to other areas of your skin. So, be mindful, notice when and where you’re touching your face and avoid it whenever possible.
2. Taking Vitamins & Supplements That You Don’t Need
It is common sense that depriving your body of essential vitamins and other nutrients is a terrible idea, but did you know that having too much of the good stuff can also make you sick? Because most people's diets are already so rich in nutrients, we can easily overdo it by adding even more vitamins and other supplements to our diet.
The fat-soluble vitamins are usually more likely to cause adverse symptoms when taken in excess, as they are more difficult to filter out of the organism. If you take too much vitamin D, for example, it can manifest the following symptoms: vomiting, weakness, frequent urination, bone pain and kidney problems.
Water-soluble vitamins can also cause adverse effects. If you consume more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C in a day, for example, it can lead to heartburn, vomiting, headaches and insomnia. Finally, watch out for possible interactions of over-the-counter supplements with other medications you are taking, and never decide to take a supplement without consulting with your doctor.
3. Not Introducing Good Hygiene Habits When Interacting With Your Pet
Cuddling and playing with our beloved pets is one of the main reasons why we have them to begin with, but it is important to remember that even a healthy and vaccinated pet can have some potentially-dangerous cooties. We’ll use the example of dogs, but keep in mind that cats, ferrets and birds can also have different contagious diseases that you could catch.
The main culprit in dogs are parasites, like roundworms, hookworms and scabies, all of which can be passed onto you from your pet. Fortunately, you can’t catch the flu from a dog, but infections, such as leptospirosis and salmonella are a potential concern, even though they are less common and can be transferred only through dog urine or feces.
That’s why it is important to wash your hands before and after playing with your pet or handling their toys, litter boxes or bedding.
4. Washing Your Hands With Antibacterial Soap
The disadvantage of most antibacterial agents is that they don’t discriminate against good bacteria, but they majority of bacteria in our body (and on the surface of our skin) are essential for our health. In 2016, the FDA even banned several antibacterial ingredients used in soaps because their investigations showed that these ingredients promoted bacterial resistance and affected people’s endocrine health.
By regularly washing your hands with antibacterial soap, you are wiping out the beneficial microorganisms that live on your skin and protect you from harmful bacteria. In fact, it was estimated that our skin hosts over 500 species of good bacteria, and they are a vital element of our immune defense system.
While it may be beneficial or necessary to wash your hands with an antibacterial soap when your immune system is compromised, or when you know you’re in a contaminated environment, it is crucial not to do so at home, as it can cause frequent colds, the flu, and other infections. Just stick to regular soap and water.
5. Drinking From a Public Water Fountain
Drinking fountains are a known source of contagious viruses and bacteria, since its users, often unknowingly, can contaminate it. Because the problem isn’t with water quality, in most cases, you can still drink from the water fountain by simply avoiding contact or cleaning the tap.
Still, some germs can withstand cleaning, so it’s always the safest choice to carry around your own multi-use water bottle.
6. Following the 5-Second Rule
For those of you who are lucky not to know that "the five-second rule" is, let us explain first. According to this rule, it is safe to eat fallen food if you picked it up from the floor within 5 seconds because it takes more than 5 seconds for the germs to contaminate your food.
This rule has no scientific basis behind it, and, frankly, it’s just an excuse. By eating food that fell on the floor or any furniture, you may be risking your health.
The truth is that bacteria get on your food the moment it reaches the ground, and there’s nothing you can do about it, so if you want to play safe, just toss the unfortunate ice cream into the trash and satiate your craving with a different treat.
7. Defrosting Food at Room Temperature
If you’re used to defrosting your meat, fish or fruit and vegetables on the kitchen counter, you may want to reconsider this decision. The USDA warns that any perishable foods (foods that spoil fast, both frozen and not, such as meat, dairy, fish, fruit, vegetables, etc.) should not be left to thaw at room temperature, as after the 2 hour mark, as it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.
In fact, this process starts at 42°F (5°C) and most pathogens can continue to multiply up to a temperature of 135°F (60°C). So, instead of defrosting your foods on the counter, use the microwave or let it thaw slowly in the fridge.
8. Ignoring Minor Cuts and Scratches
Even the smallest cat scratch, a paper cut or a skinned elbow can become infected. Doctors explain that this is because all of us already have germs on our skin, but the skin barrier prevents them from entering our bodies.
An injury is the chance for the bacteria to get into our bloodstream, so it’s necessary to disinfect each and every minor wound you get. Dry and clean the wound and make sure you’re touching the affected area only with clean hands. Then, bandage the wound and let it heal. If any itching, redness or swelling occurs, get it checked by a doctor.
9. Washing Raw Meat
A surprising discovery I’ve made while writing this article is that by washing raw meat, you are actually increasing the likelihood of getting food poisoning.
Yes, it is true that contaminants may sit on the surface of the meat, but because you’re going to cook it and destroy most of them in the cooking process, you might actually be better off not washing raw meat. When you wash the meat, the bacteria can spread all over your sink, cooking gear and nearby food through water.
That’s why you should have a separate cooking station for meat and the rest of the food, use separate cooking utensils and keep the meat as far away from foods you’re not going to cook. Also, wash your hands thoroughly when you’re switching from handling meat to other foods.
10. Dismissing Oral Health & Hygiene
As we’ve mentioned above, our mouths are, unfortunately, the gateways for infection. The infection doesn’t have to come from the outside, however. Often, poor or inconsistent oral health may worsen certain conditions, or even cause others in various body parts and organs.
For example, heart disease and type-2 diabetes were both linked to gum disease. According to the National Health Service, developing periodontitis, a type of gum disease, can even increase your risk of stroke. Furthermore, certain dental procedures can even cause endocarditis, a type of infection of the inner heart lining, in immunocompromised patients. So, don’t skip dentist’s appointments and have a steady schedule of brushing and flossing your teeth.
These were all the dangerous habits we had for you today. To learn about more common habits that could affect your health, follow the link The 12 Common Habits That Undermine Your Health.