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Healthy Habits That Aren’t

Healthy Habits That Aren't from Using antibacterial soap You may be tempted to take a biological jackhammer to every microbe that dare touch your family, but the fact is there’s a lot we don’t know about the long-term effects of common, household use of antibacterials. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these chemicals have been shown, in the lab, to kill off only weak bacteria—leaving the tougher ones to reproduce. That’s led many medical experts to worry that anti-bacterial soaps might be contributing to the rise of stronger bacteria, capable of fighting off our attempts to kill it. So far, this theory hasn’t been proved in a real-life setting. What has been proved, however, is that washing your hands with anti-bacterial soap isn’t anymore effective at preventing disease than hand washing with regular soap Sitting up straight According to a study presented in 2006 at the annual conference for the Radiological Society of North America, so-called “perfect” posture might actually be contributing to back pain. Go ahead, call your mom and gloat. But make sure you get your facts right. When this story first came out last November, many newspapers incorrectly reported that slouching was the better way to sit. The problem turned out to be a "slanguage" barrier. In England, where the story was first reported, “slouching” refers to reclining backward, which is, according to the study, a great way to relieve pressure on your lower back. Translated into American slang, however, the news reports gave many people the impression that hunching forward was healthy, when, in fact, it’s actually worse than sitting up straight. Trusting your eyesight to carrots If you think these vegetables will improve your vision, think again. While carrots do contain vitamin A, which is a major player in keeping your eyes working properly, you really only need a small amount of it—and no matter how much vitamin A you consume, it’s not going to magically eliminate your need for glasses. In fact, if you eat too much vitamin A, you can end up with a toxic—although not usually fatal—reaction. The idea that more carrots means better vision might actually be a relic of a World War II-era military disinformation campaign. According to the online World Carrot Museum, British intelligence began spreading the myth during the blitz as a plausible explanation for why their fighter pilots were suddenly able to spot Nazi planes at night. In reality, the British had simply developed a better radar system and didn’t want the enemy to find out about it. Drinking eight glasses of water a day Admit it, this is one healthy habit that’s a royal pain. Luckily, it’s also completely unnecessary. For some people, eight glasses a day might actually be far too much, leading to sodium deficiencies and potentially life-threatening water intoxication, caused by kidneys not being able to keep up the intake of liquids. In 2002, a kidney specialist tried, in vain, to find any scientific evidence supporting the eight-glasses-a-day myth. His report, published in the American Journal of Physiology, concluded that this standard health advice was complete and utter bunk that, like many urban legends, stemmed from a tiny grain of truth. Apparently, the dietary guidelines provided by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council do say that humans need 1 milliliter of water for each calorie of food—adding up to about 10 cups a day. However, the same guidelines also say that we get most of this liquid from the water in solid food. There’s no need to drink more

03/24/2009 6:54AM
Healthy Habits That Aren’t
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