10 everyday habits that are actually bad for you

When your toothbrush is causing cavities and sanitiser is anything but clean, how can you know what’s doing more harm than good? Ellie McInerney investigates. 

1. Carrying your bag

Carrying a heavy bag on the same shoulder repeatedly can create muscular imbalances, leading to sprains, strains and poor posture. Alternate sides frequently and try to lighten the load when you can.

2. Brushing your teeth

If you’re using an electric toothbrush to clean your teeth, you could be causing abrasion cavities and gum problems. Dr Beeta Salek-Haddadi, a cosmetic dentist in London, says electric toothbrushes encourage you to apply more pressure when you brush which can strip away protective enamel — and there’s no way to get it back once it’s gone. Switch to a manual toothbrush instead.

3. Traffic jams

Toxic nano-sized particles in traffic fumes can get into our blood stream and damage our immune systems. New research found that antimicrobial peptides (that keep us free of infections) are weakened in response to traffic fumes.

4. Cleaning the house

Just a once-a-week exposure to cleaning products containing ammonium compounds (chemicals linked to bleach) can raise your chance of developing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, a fatal lung condition, by 32%. While organic cleaners might be more expensive, they’re much better for your health.

5. Not sleeping on your left side

When we sleep on our left side we help our lymph nodes process fluids and waste from our body. Our brains are also better able to process waste when lying on the left.

6. Locking your knees

We know not to lock out our knees on the leg press machine, but what about just standing around? Locking knees can put pressure on the kneecap and cause pain. Keep them soft to protect the knee and help blood move freely.

7. Bingeing on TV

Linked to depression, anxiety and feelings of loneliness, binge-watching might feel chill, but it’s anything but relaxing for your brain. Your mind is constantly on high alert, which drains your energy and is why you often feel lethargic after hours of TV.

8. Holding your phone

Whether standing, sitting or walking around, our phones are one of the biggest causes of neck strain and can contribute to tension build up in our shoulders. Switch to a laptop when you can, and a standing desk for even better neck health.

9. Hand sanitiser

Taking unnecessary antibiotics builds bacterial resistance, and hand sanitiser does the same thing. The US Food and Drug Administration has even deemed Triclosan — a key ingredient in hand sanitiser — dangerous for humans.

10. Neon signs

Bright lights through the night have been shown to cause havoc on our circadian patterns and our body’s ability to produce melatonin. And as exposure is increased, so is the risk of breast cancer.