17 'healthy' habits that aren't doing you any good!
Sometimes, age-old wellness wisdom isn't very wise.
Over the years, myths and misinformation have given rise to a swath of "healthy" habits that are popular but not actually backed up by science. At best, these habits are an ineffective waste of money. At worst, they could actually backfire and harm your body.
When the allure of a cleanse feels strong, just remember that your liver and kidneys do all the detoxing work for you: You don't need to do anything additional to help them out. Any company that tries to convince you otherwise is likely trying to "cleanse" out the contents of your wallet.
A small but growing body of evidence says it's backfiring. Some studies have found that viewing fitspiration images increases body dissatisfaction— a mental state that may lead to anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Fitspiration motivate you to hit the gym, but physical fitness shouldn't come at the expense of mental health.
"Too much 'cleaning' and seemingly helpful 'hygiene' products can actually cause itching, irritation, and even infection by disrupting our natural balance of bacteria," gynecologist Dr. Alyssa Dweck writes in her book "The Complete A to Z for Your V."
Additionally, these products hearken back to the sexist belief that women should eliminate the healthy, natural smell of their genitals in order to be desirable. That's just not cool.
It's not that lemon water is awful for you. It could be a great choice if it's replacing something like a daily soda, and it can give you some extra vitamin C. But it's just not a miracle beverage.
6. Cleaning out your ears with Q-tips (or anything)
As long as your earwax isn't blocking your ear canal or causing hearing problems, you should just leave it alone, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology (AAO).
In fact, earwax has a purpose. It's antifungal and antibacterial, and it helps move dead skin cells out of your ear. The AAO does say that about 5% of adults have excessive earwax that might require cleaning out, but most of us don't need to worry about it.
Whatever you do, don't try to clean out earwax with a Q-tip.
"The diameter of the Q-tip is greater than half the diameter of the ear canal," Dr. Mark Vaughan told INSIDER in August. "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."
7. Restrictive "clean" diets
There's no specific definition for "clean" eating, but broadly, it's a dietary pattern that eliminates most processed foods. In theory, it's a sound and health-promoting diet. In reality, has a dark side, as INSIDER reported in July.
"When new clients say they eat clean, I know that what they are doing is elevating certain types of food as 'good' and 'clean' while demonizing all other food as 'bad,'" dietitian Brittany Markides told INSIDER. "Because the thought that the foods they are craving are 'bad' is deeply ingrained, eating these foods causes guilt and shame."
Restrictive diets like clean eating may beget short-term results, but they're usually not sustainable. A registered dietitian can help you find an eating plan that keeps you physically and mentally healthy for the long term.
8. Taking biotin for your hair and nails
People take biotin supplements to improve their hair, skin, and nails, but the pills aren't doing much.
"Biotin deficiencies are really rare, mainly because it's found in so many foods, and also because you don't even need all that much," he told INSIDER in August.
And Bellatti said there's no strong evidence tha biotin supplements help the hair, skin, or nails of people who already have enough biotin in their systems. If you think you might be deficient, ask a doctor.
"For people that have been diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten is definitely a problem," Fear recently told INSIDER. "[But] for the population at large, do they need to avoid gluten? The answer is definitely no. And is it beneficial to avoid gluten? The answer also appears to be no."
Proponents of colon cleaning say that your intestines are full of toxic gunk that must be removed. So they recommend a procedure in which as many as 15 gallons of water shoot up into the colon through a tube inserted into the rectum. (Fun!)
"One of my biggest concerns is that it encourages you not to listen to your internal cues of hunger and fullness," dietitian Rachael Hartley told INSIDER in September.
Plus, foods that are labeled as "healthy" tend to make people overeat — an effect that's been observed in the study, after study, after study.
Rather than wolfing down a whole pint of watery "healthy" ice cream, why not slow down and enjoy a single serving of the real thing? Odds are you'll end up feeling more satisfied.
13. Avoiding MSG
Over the years, scare stories from "wellness" websites have drummed up irrational fear over the safety of MSG. But that fear isn't backed up by actual science.
MSG is a savory flavor-boosting ingredient. People once thought it was behind "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome" — a collection of symptoms that can include headaches, nausea, chest pain, and heart palpitations.
A trio of studies published in 2013 found no evidence that supplements could prevent or slow down chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer among people who are well-nourished (like most Americans).
Some people justify the loss of fiber because they believe that juices are "detoxing" and that they help your body absorb nutrients better. Mayo Clinic dietitian Katherine Zeratsky wrote that there's simply no sound evidence to support these beliefs.
Fresh juices aren't necessarily bad, and they could be a good replacement for, say, a sweetened coffee drink. But juicing is no healthier than just eating whole fruits and veggies.