5 things you're doing 'for your health' that aren't so healthy


It seems like there are new health trends popping up all the time – some super food promising to make you live forever or some natural remedy guaranteed to make you look younger.

We may roll our eyes with skepticism, suspecting that the claims are usually too good to be true. But there are actually a lot of normal things we readily do for our health, even though there is no real scientific evidence they help at all.

Some things we simply accept as healthy choices are even potentially detrimental to our well-being. Here's a look at five such "healthy habits" that aren't really as healthy as you think.

>> Read more trending news 

1. Cleaning your ears

Who doesn't enjoy the feeling of using Q-tips to clean their ears after a warm shower? Well, the soft cotton gently removing the wax may feel good, but doctors warn against the routine activity.

In fact, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, unless ear wax is actually blocking your ear canal, you should just leave it alone.

Although about 5 percent of Americans may suffer from excessive earwax, the vast majority don't need to be concerned. Ear wax actually benefits us by transferring dead skin cells out of our ears. It's also antifungal and antibacterial, meaning it works to keep our ears healthy.

Doctors also warn that Q-tips simply push the wax deeper into our ears.

"The diameter of the Q-tip is greater than half the diameter of the ear canal," Dr. Mark Vaughan told INSIDER in 2017. "So any way you stick that in there, there's a portion of the wax that you can't get around. All you can do is push it in."

2. Flossing

Proper teeth care is hammered into us from an early age. Ideally, we should brush and floss three times per day, about 30 minutes after every meal. But that's only half true.

While brushing is definitely important, flossing actually isn't.

That's right, even though dentists have been recommending flossing for decades, there's minimal scientific evidence that it's actually beneficial. An investigative report by an AP journalist published in 2016 revealed the lack of science behind the recommendations.

The report cited a 2015 scientific review that said: "The majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal." Another cited study said evidence of flossing's benefits is "weak" and "inconsistent."

3. Using hand sanitizer

If you're one who constantly carries hand sanitizer or keeps a bottle on your desk, you may want to reconsider. It's not that hand sanitizer is necessarily bad to use, it's just that soap and water is so much better.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that the old-fashioned method is still the best way to fight off germs. Hand sanitizer may be better than not cleaning your hands at all, but studies suggest it isn't nearly as good at removing certain bacteria that can lead to illness.

4. Detox and cleanse diets

Next time you or a friend consider going on a detox or cleanse diet, don't waste your time. There's simply no scientific evidence that these trendy diets have any real health benefits.

Your liver and your kidneys, if functioning properly, are constantly detoxing your body

"Unless there's a blockage in one of these organs that do it day and night, there's absolutely no need to help the body get rid of toxins," Dr. Ranit Mishori of the Georgetown University School of Medicine told NPR in 2012.

5. Taking daily multi-vitamins or other supplements

If you're one of the 40 percent of Americans who take a daily multi-vitamin, you probably don't need to.

Three studies published in 2013 found no evidence that such supplements could reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease among well-nourished individuals. Essentially, if you're eating fine, you don't need to take the daily tablet.

When the studies were published, a group of doctors wrote an editorial specifically saying that there's "no substantial health benefit" to taking multi-vitamins. In fact, they could even cause harm to your health.

"Supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful," the doctors warned.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

Retired Marine with amputated legs turned away from Six Flags ride, park cites safety
Retired Marine with amputated legs turned away from Six Flags ride, park cites safety

A military veteran was dismayed to be turned away from a Six Flags Over Georgia ride the other day, but the park cites safety precautions. “We apologize to Mr. Jones for any inconvenience; however, to ensure safety, guests with certain disabilities are restricted from riding certain rides and attractions,” a statement from Six Flags said...
4-year-old ‘superhero’ on a mission to save Alabama’s homeless
4-year-old ‘superhero’ on a mission to save Alabama’s homeless

A 4-year-old boy in Birmingham, Alabama is saving the world one person at a time by handing out food and money to the local homeless community. He’s pitched in to build a new homeless shelter, donating $5,000, Birmingham mayor Randall Woodfin posted on Facebook: >> Read more trending news  Austin Perine wears a red satin superhero...
Alcohol, tobacco more dangerous than many illegal drugs, study finds
Alcohol, tobacco more dangerous than many illegal drugs, study finds

Legal drugs, such as tobacco and alcohol, cause significantly more harm to people globally than illegal ones, a new international study suggests. But researchers say that’s not surprising, considering the varying prevalence of each. >> Read more trending news  The research, which was published this month in the journal ...
Hawaii volcano: 'Explosive eruption' at Kilauea summit spurs concerns over ash, laze
Hawaii volcano: 'Explosive eruption' at Kilauea summit spurs concerns over ash, laze

An “explosive eruption” at Kilauea's summit on Hawaii's Big Island early Tuesday prompted officials to warn residents to protect themselves from ash fallout as the volcano eruption continues into its third week. More than 40 structures have been destroyed in the eruption that started May 3. It has since inundated almost 325 acres around...
K-9 finds 60 lbs. of meth first day on job in California
K-9 finds 60 lbs. of meth first day on job in California

The newest member of the West Covina Police Department was praised after locating about 60 pounds of methamphetamine during his first day on the job. K-9 Rye found the drugs during a traffic stop Saturday, according to the West Covina Police Department’s Facebook post:  Officers stopped the silver 2010 Nissan Rouge for a vehicle code violation...
More Stories