You Won’t Believe: These Bad Habits Can Actually Boost Your Health


Don’t feel guilty the next time you miss a workout or accidentally let out a curse word. You’d be amazed at the health benefits associated with some of these so-called ‘bad habits.’ Find out which habits are helping to keep your body healthy.

1. Drinking coffee could cut your cancer risk


Coffee might seem like a necessary evil because its main component – the energy-boosting caffeine has nothing on its real health superpowers. Studies have indicated that drinking coffee may minimize your risk for heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. According to Shelley McGuire, Ph.D., an associate professor of nutrition at Washington State University, this is because most chronic diseases are related to inflammation and coffee is abounding in anti-inflammatory compounds. Coffee also has more antioxidants than almost any other food. The key is not to have too much. Try to keep your consumption to one to two cups per day, which balances between health and not becoming too dependent on the effects of caffeine.

2. Devouring chocolate


In recent years, dark chocolate (with at least 60% cocoa) has been praised for its cancer-fighting power and the blood pressure-reducing ability of its flavanols. And more, those who truly enjoy chocolate in moderation or embrace the so-called ‘mindful eating’ are less likely to overindulge on sugar and carbs throughout the day.  For instance, a 2012 study at Ohio State University found diabetic patients who went through a ‘mindful eating’ course were just as successful at losing weight as those who took the typical nutrition program route. According to the study, learning how to pay attention to the body’s signs of hunger and satisfaction and to eat ‘in the moment’ was shown to be just as helpful as learning about reading food labels and choosing nutritious meals.

3. Skipping your daily workout


Skipping a workout can be a major guilt trip, but it doesn’t always have to be. Your body actually needs regular rest and the goal should not be to work out every single day. If you feel like your body is really beat up after yesterday’s visit to the gym, it’s okay to skip a workout to recover. The key is set limits on what excuses you from a workout. Feeling exhausted might be one thing, but just not feeling like it probably isn’t a good reason not to hit the treadmill.

4. Not choosing the ‘low-fat’ option


Although indulging in deep-fried foods or butter drenched popcorn is far from healthy, always refusing foods high in fat can actually be harmful. Fat is essential in the absorption of some vitamins and required by our body to produce hormones. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, unsaturated fats, including vegetable oils and nuts, reduce inflammation, regulate blood pressure and can improve blood cholesterol. Meanwhile, several studies published in recent years show that unsaturated fat found in olive oil, avocados and fish can reduce one’s risk of depression and memory loss.

5. Cursing can keep stress in check


A little anger may be a tonic for both your mind and body. For example, new studies suggest that riled-up people make better decisions. And researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that anger—as opposed to fear or anxiety—can prompt your brain to release less cortisol, the powerful stress hormone linked to problems like obesity, bone loss and heart disease. The researchers’ theory is that swearing can release adrenalin, which makes the body more resilient to stress and relieves pain. However, those who overuse curse words wear out their beneficial effect.

6. Snacking


The type of snack makes a big difference when it comes to whether or not you should be doing it. Snacking can actually help you to stay on track with a new diet or eating plan. Arriving at dinner starving can encourage you to eat more than you might have if you had a snack earlier in the afternoon. Stick to health snacks that are high in fiber or high in protein. Good examples are carrot sticks, apples, hard-boiled eggs, or raw almonds.

7. Not drinking enough water


Water is an essential component of keeping your body healthy, but not everyone is a fan of just straight water. Don’t let that keep you from getting your needed hydration. It’s okay to get your fluids in a different way. Teas and coffees can pack a serious nutritional punch while also getting you plenty of water. While caffeine can increase the amount of water you lose, that’s only the case if you’re not a regular drinker. Those who have daily coffee or tea get the hydration without the extra trips to the bathroom. Just make sure to keep the added sugar and cream to a minimum and keep an eye on your urine to make sure you get enough water.

8. Taking Naps


While some might call you lazy, you should never feel guilty about taking a nap as long as you keep it on the shorter side. Napping has been found to improve your memory, boost your mood, reduce stress and increase alertness. It can do many of these things in as little as 10 minutes of napping. If you don’t want to wake up groggy, stick to 20 minute naps. Try drinking a cup of coffee right before you go to sleep for an extra boost since the caffeine won’t kick in until after you wake up.

9. Drinking beer may benefit your heart and bones


According to Charles Bamforth, Ph.D., a professor of food science and technology at the University of California at Davis, research indicates that beer could be an even better heart-disease fighter than red wine. The refreshing stuff is made with malted barley, which happens to contain the same heart-protecting antioxidants that give red wine its good name. But beer also packs high levels of vitamin B6, which keeps our bodies from building up homocysteine, a chemical linked to increased coronary risk. And your whole body gets a boost in the form of silica, a compound that helps strengthen bones. The recommended dose is one beer a day. Also, look for brews made with ample pale malt and hops (i.e., pale ales), which are especially rich in silica.

10. Watching TV


The key to enjoying a TV marathon on the couch is to make use of commercial time to break up your sessions of sitting and squeeze in a little exercise. A typical hour-long show contains 15 to 20 minutes of commercials. Spend that time doing some squats, pushups or crunches while also getting your fill of TV time.

11. Surfing the Internet might tune up your brain


A new study at the University of California at Los Angeles found that just one week of frequent Web browsing can stimulate your brain’s complex-reasoning centers. ‘Time online may improve your ability to make decisions,’ says study coauthor and psychiatrist Gary Small, M.D. It’s possible that the more we surf, the more efficient our brains can become at strategizing, he explains. ‘It’s like going to the gym. After a while, you can lift more weight with less effort.’ Be cautious that clicking around all day and night is far from beneficial.