Misleading Myths: 5 Unhealthy Habits You Didn’t Know Were Bad for You

Every day, you’re bombarded by stories about the latest discoveries in health. While this seems helpful, it can be source of irritation. It seems like what was good for you yesterday has now been shown to be detrimental, and vice versa. There are many things that science has labeled as being good for us, but really aren’t. It can be difficult to know what to believe, but in the end, it all comes down to scientific proof. Here are a few habits you may have thought are good for you, but can actually cause you harm if you aren’t careful.


With a growing focus being placed on fitness, people are being lead to believe that more is better. However, regularly participating in strenuous activities like running for long distances can actually cause serious health problems. The body produces huge amounts of cortisol, the stress hormone, under these conditions. This causes inflammation, accelerates aging, obliterates muscle mass and promotes hormonal imbalances. Furthermore, long-distance running causes thickening of the heart muscle over time, leaving you prone to sudden cardiac arrest and heart attacks. The human body is not built for such abuse.

Eating Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils are considered to be a healthy alternative to butter and other animal fats because they’re not saturated. This ill advice came from a study on the health effects of saturated fat in the 1960s. The study used rabbits as an animal model, but there was one problem. Rabbits can’t metabolize saturated fat. When the rabbits became ill, researchers assumed the effect would be the same on humans. Meanwhile, in places of the world where refined vegetable oils began replacing traditional saturated fats like coconut oil and lard, the once-negligible heart disease rates began to skyrocket. A similar scenario is happening in America today.

Eating Soy

You’ve heard that eating soy can support good health, but everything about this is wrong. Soy is one of the highest sources of plant estrogens, which mimic natural estrogen in the body. Unless you’re struggling with estrogen deficiency, this is not good. In one serving, soy products contain more estrogen than is considered healthy even for an adult female. In women, it can cause infertility, mood swings, increased cancer risk, depression, weight gain, irregular periods, severe menstrual cramps and heart problems. In men, it can cause hair loss, low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, low libido, low sperm count and motility, muscle loss, low energy, mood disorders, prostate inflammation and prostate or testicular cancer. Excess estrogen has even been linked with heart problems, metabolic disorders, blood clots and dementia.

Drinking Alcohol

If you think a glass of red wine each day will help you live longer, think again. Alcohol, even in small amounts, has been tied to an increased risk of breast cancer, colon cancer and stomach ulcers. Alcohol is also neurotoxic, which means that it kills brain cells. In addition, regular drinking may cause blood sugar disruptions that can give rise to diabetes and related conditions. If that isn’t enough reason to avoid the substance, according to a dentist in Salinas, alcohol can contribute to teeth erosion. The acids in certain alcohols will lead to your teeth eroding quicker, and since it dehydrates you, it eliminates the amount of saliva in your mouth that is used to fight off bacteria. Many people know that excessive or binge drinking is unhealthy, however, some don’t realize that even a glass every day can have some heavy consequences. There are so many substances you can swap out for alcohol, so consider finding a new favorite drink to have with dinner every night.

Caloric Restriction

Are you cutting calories in order to slim down? If so, you may want to reconsider. Eating more than you need isn’t healthy, but eating too little is dangerous. The commonly recommended minimum of 1,200 to 1,500 daily is actually too low, especially if you’re active. Your body, brain and heart need calories for energy, and when they’re routinely deprived, they stop working properly. Furthermore, overzealous caloric restriction can slow your metabolism. This means that if you resume normal eating habits, you’ll start gaining weight.
It’s not always easy to tell what’s truly good or bad for you, but it’s often simple enough to make your own assumptions. If something seems unhealthy, it probably is and should be avoided. But it’s not always so cut and dry. Myths can spread like wildfire, and even if there is some truth to a healthy habit, if often gets blown out of proportion. Use your best judgment when it comes to deciphering which health practices are best. The best philosophy is moderation in all things—that way you can’t go too overboard and hurt yourself.