Surely you’re familiar with the laundry list of common vices that are hazardous to your health. You know Big Macs aren’t good for you, and you’re up to date on smoking’s harmful effects. But what about those habits that have become part of your everyday life? You know, the ones that don’t necessarily scream “I’m going to kill you,” but are actually putting your life at risk?
Here are 10 everyday habits that are killing you — and what you can do about it.
1. Skipping flossing
If your M.O. at the dentist is fibbing about how often you floss, it’s time to check those lies at the door. As you probably already know, regular flossing will help reduce your risk of developing gum disease. But CardioSmart highlights some of the research linking gum disease with heart disease as well. The American Academy of Periodontology says heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes are associated with periodontitis.
Surely you have another two minutes to spare during your morning and nighttime bathroom routines.
2. Ignoring your snoring
There’s no doubt a person who snores isn’t exactly the best sleep partner. But more importantly, their health may be at risk, as snoring is a common sign of sleep apnea. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, this sleep disorder can have serious consequences, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, so see your doctor. There are plenty of devices out there, from pillows to breathing mechanisms, that can help keep you from sawing too many logs.
3. Watching too much TV
You may be surprised to hear that pretty much any amount of TV can ultimately lead to some serious consequences. According to research reported by USA Today, people who watched at least three hours of TV per day doubled their risk of an early death. In the same story, American Heart Association cardiologist Nisa Goldberg said, “Watching television is a passive, sedentary activity, and certainly people who do it for hours are not paying attention in terms of their lifestyle and in terms of their diet.” Furthermore, when you’re sedentary for too long, the blood vessels stiffen, thus resulting in a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries.
So, instead of plopping on the couch for hours on end, make a conscious effort to limit your television time, and trade couch time for other activities. If you have been sitting at work all day, consider taking a little walk in order to clear your head instead of relaxing in-front of your TV set.
4. Biting your nails
Since your fingers touch virtually everything you come into contact with throughout the day, your fingertips and nail beds are teeming with bacteria. Jim White, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells Men’s Fitness that salmonella and E. coli can be carried underneath the fingertips. According to the CDC, people can become very ill when infected by the most dangerous strain, E. coli O157:H7. Furthermore, the CDC says some people may also develop kidney problems or high blood pressure.
Lucky for you, this bad habit isn’t too hard to break. There are a ton of homemade remedies out there to help make gnawing on your nails sound unappealing.
5. Spiking your coffee (with sweets)
While there’s no denying the super effects coffee has on your productivity, we have some less-than-pleasing news regarding all the sugar you put into it. According to Health, you can add up to 50 calories just by mixing in half-and-half and a couple packs of sugar, which is enough to add five extra pounds to your frame in a year. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, too much added sugar can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Cutting back on the sweet stuff means your morning cup-of-joe won’t taste like a dessert anymore, but at least you won’t be sacrificing your health.
6. Popping pain killers too often
It’s in the name — pain killers are meant to alleviate whatever ailments you may be feeling at a given time. But just because you’re not popping oxycontin regularly, doesn’t mean you’re not at risk for developing a habit. Reader’s Digest mentions that overuse of pain killers could lead to serious health problems in the not-so-distant future. Over time, continued use of drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin can increase your risk for ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, high blood pressure, and heart attacks.
7. Skipping breakfast
Whether you like the idea or not, skipping breakfast isn’t good for you. You probably also know that eating shortly after you wake up triggers your metabolism to kick into gear for the day. So what happens when you skip this step? In a small study, people who skipped breakfast consumed more empty calories at night and tended to let stress drive poor eating choices. And according to SFGate, too many empty-calorie foods can cause weight gain and obesity, and can lead to type-2 diabetes and heart disease. If you’re someone who is always in a hurry in the morning, have something portable like fruit and protein bars.
8. Lying out in the sun
Just because you’re not spending all day lying out in the sun doesn’t mean you’re safe from its rays. You might forgo applying SPF daily, because what’s a half hour outside really going to do? Well, when it comes to your skin, it could do a lot of damage. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma accounts for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths.
Because the vast majority of melanoma cases are caused by the sun, slicking on some SPF is an easy fix. Applying a face lotion with SPF 15 or higher every day is a great start to reducing the risk of melanoma.
9. Binge snacking
While there’s definitely a case for snacking throughout the day, there’s a huge difference between chomping on an energy bar and mowing down a bag of Doritos. Not surprisingly, some exresearchers say the latter can increase your risk for obesity. Again, it all goes back to what you’re snacking on, so be sure you’re swapping junk food for super food. Have almonds or a string cheese on hand to eat midday. Even better, make sure you eat a satisfying lunch so you won’t be so famished when the afternoon snack attack hits.
10. Smoking and drinking
It’s not exactly a shock that smoking cigarettes and drinking aren’t healthy. Smoking causes 438,000 deaths in the U.S each year. Excessive alcohol use is its own animal, having resulted in 88,000 deaths each year between 2006 and 2010 in the U.S. According to the CDC, binge drinking includes consuming more than three drinks on a single occasion for women, and more than four for men. Heavy drinking comes out to more than seven drinks a week for women, and more than 14 for men.
The fixes here are self-explanatory. Next time you’re at the bar, think before ordering another round. Slap on that nicotine patch and have a water instead of another beer. If it really is too difficult for you to make these adjustments on your own, consult your doctor about getting a little help. There is no shame in asking for aid when it comes to stopping these habits from being the death of you.
Additional reporting by Chelena Goldman