The commercials sold you to the hand sanitiser and the bottled water. But are they really good for you? Experts argue not. Turns out several of the habits we have cultivated over the years, from being wary of germs to brushing teeth after every meal are not only unnecessary but could actually rob us of good health in the long term. Read on to find out how.
Brushing after meals
Obsessed with your pearly whites, you have taken to brushing your teeth after every meal. But your mommy told you only to brush your teeth twice a day — before breakfast and before bedtime. Turns out she was right.
Dental experts say that rushing to the bathroom immediately after a meal is not good for your teeth. The breakdown of food in the mouth leaves an acidic residue which weakens the enamel the protective layer on the teeth. Brushing the teeth when the enamel is weak, can strip the enamel permanently, causing tooth sensitivity.
Instead: It’s a good idea to wait for at least an hour after the meal before reaching out for the toothbrush. If you must dislodge food particles that remain after eating, rinse your mouth with water.
Using the hand sanitiser
Do you have a habit of reaching out for the hand sanitiser each time you touch the handle on the train, especially after the last person to hold it was a noticeably sweaty commuter? You might be doing yourself more harm than good.
While hand sanitisers are a convenient method of cleaning hands and getting rid of germs, it’s important to use them properly. According to a research conducted by University of California Davis, US, most hand sanitisers contain a chemical called triclosan which gets absorbed easily by the skin. As it enters the blood stream, it disrupts cell communication necessary for muscle coordination. Long term use can leave the skin dry and cause problems such as infertility, early puberty and poor heart function.
Instead: When possible, use the time-tested method of washing your hands with soap and water.
Ditching weights for cardio
Nothing is as good as a run or swim in the morning. Especially if compared to lifting weights at the gym. While this could work if your aim is just to stay fit, if you plan on losing weight, you need to stop being exclusive with the cardio.
The body gets accustomed to the same type of exercise and stops burning calories. Celebrity trainer Satyajit Chaurasia says including some weight training along with cardio is the fastest way to lose weight and gain muscle mass alongside. “Alternating between cardio and strength training keeps the heart rate up while also giving the whole body a workout. It keeps the body in shock and doesn’t let it get used to a particular type of routine, where burning calories becomes stagnant.”
Instead: If you are an outdoors person and don’t like to join a gym, Chaurasia suggest that you find a bench and a pair of dumbbells. “For beginners, these will be enough to work your upper body,” he says.
Changing your cosmetics
The luxe cosmetic brand just announced a new product and you have already bought the new bottle of cream, ditching it for the tube you just bought last month. While pumping money into a new skin-care product is bad for your wallet, it also does great harm to your skin.
Dermatologist Dr Manohar Sobhani says, “The human skin has a pH (potential Hydrogen) level of 5.5. Cosmetic makers differ from each other on the pH value of their products. When people, who have sensitive skin, experiment with products of varied pH values, it may result in red, patchy or inflamed skin. For instance, most soaps have a pH value higher than 5.5 and are alkaline (harsh for the skin).”
Changing cosmetics once every few weeks can damage your skin leaving it ridden with rash, pimples or acne. And no, reaching for another product won’t help.
Instead: Sobhani recommends going only for trusted brands, and always reading the pH value mentioned at the back of the product.
Wearing flip flops
You are afraid that heels will kill your knees and ankles, and think flats are the way to go, especially in Mumbai where the weather permits it. Right? You couldn’t be more wrong.
Podiatrist and mobility consultant Chaitanya Shah says flip flops are not good as they do not provide any arch or structural support to the feet. “While walking, the toes have to constantly grip the slippers to control and balance them from slipping out. This alters the natural foot lift-off and landing and could lead to problems such as plantar fasciitis — inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot,” he says.
Instead: It is a good idea to wear flip flops at home, but ditch them when stepping out.
Drinking only bottled water
Bottled water is processed water and has been stri*ped off minerals. In tropical climates such as Mumbai, it serves the purpose of hydration. But in the long run, it can leave your body lacking in essential minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, silica and sulphate. These minerals perform various functions in the body such as energy production and cell and muscle repair.
Instead: Fill your glass with water purified by a filtration system or carry a bottle from home.