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The Worst Health Habits

You might not realize it, but some of your supposedly “innocuous” health habits can be seriously harmful to your health.  Some bad habits are relatively easy to spot–clearly you should avoid eating McDonald’s Big Macs too frequently–but did you know that something as small as biting your nails can be harmful to your overall health?  Read on for more surprisingly dangerous health habits:

  1. Biting your nails or cuticles: it’s a habit that many pick up out of nervousness or boredom.  But did you know that chewing on your nails can weaken them over time and even cause bacterial growth?  In addition, chewing on your nails can damage your teeth.  You can easily remedy this problem by going for a professional manicure a few times a month, putting a nasty tasting product on your nails, or find other healthier ways to cope with anxiety (e.g. counseling, chewing on crunchy health foods like carrots or apples).
  2. Lying to your doctor: no one wants to admit their bad health habits to their doctor, but it could mean the difference between health and serious illness.  If you only tell your doctor part of the story, they could even misdiagnosis you.  Before you visit a doctor, you could consider making a list of 1) your medications; 2) any alcohol or drug abuse; 3) unsafe sexual practices; 4) moods and mental health; 5) sleeping and eating patterns; 6) physical activity level.
  3. Emotional overeating: let’s face it, if you’re devouring food because you’re feeling depressed, bored or angry, or any of the other myriad emotions, you’re likely eating too much food and the wrong foods.  Consider keeping a food journal to get a perspective on your eating habits: are you eating many high-calorie, fatty or sugary foods?  When are you eating those foods?  How hungry are you really when you consume food?  How are you feeling emotionally?  Don’t be afraid to ask for help with overeating either; research suggests that overeaters are triggered to overeat the same way that drug addicts are to use their preferred drug.
  4. Rarely flossing: this one could go along with the “lying to your doctor” bit.  It’s easy to tell the dentist, “oh yeah, I floss regularly”, but you and the dentist will probably know the truth when your gums are bleeding after your bi-annual checkup and cleaning.  It’s very important to floss as it prevents gum disease and can also stave off other non-mouth related diseases such as plaque buildup in the arteries and even cancer.  Incorporate flossing into your daily routine, the same way you shower at the same time each day or shave.  Also, consider purchasing an assisting device such as a floss holder; research suggests that those who use floss holders are more likely to stick to their flossing routine than those who don’t use a floss holder.
  5. Ignoring a low libido: it’s true, there are many factors that can lower a once robust sex drive.  But did you know that some of those reasons can be serious indicators of other health problems?  Women are more likely to experience a dip in sexual desire when they reach menopause, but something as simple as a personal lubricant can help to rejuvenate a dead or dying libido.  Also, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about your low libido; sex is an important part of life that contributes to self-esteem, your relationship, and even the well-being of your immune system.

This are but some of the surprisingly dangerous health habits that can have a profound effect on your quality of life and well-being.  You can also read about more dangerous health habits and the remedies you can use to address them.  I realize that many of these bad health habits can be embarrassing to admit to your healthcare provider, and sometimes even yourself, but it’s important to be honest and proactive to protect your health.

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