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Healthy Bad Habits
Your parents and teachers have told you a million times – It’s a bad habit. Stop it! Cultures around the world have their own set of bad habits which is propagated as taboo for its members.
All those health headlines around you might put you under the impression that anything that tastes, feels or even sounds good is a sin and sabotages your goal in life. It’s not true. Research shows that a lot of our most common vices, like indulging a sweet tooth or grabbing post-work pints with the guys may actually have some positive side effects. EHC dwells into some of the popular “bad” habits and their healthy side effects.
Studies show that chocolate prevents heart disease. Most of the credit for this benefit goes to the flavonoids found in cacao, the bean from which chocolate is made. These antioxidant compounds increase the flexibility of veins and arteries and lower blood pressure. But don’t reach for any old chocolate bar. Our recommendation is to pick dark chocolate which blends with at least 70 percent cocoa, which has maximum heart-healthy benefits with the least amount of sugar.
We tend to call late sleepers lazy, but a recent study showed that people who wake up to an alarm rather than letting their body’s internal clock rouse them are three times more likely to be overweight. The more you rely on a device to wake you up, the further your circadian rhythm falls out of sync with your actual sleep schedule. This mismatch can cause you to eat at irregular times—often when your body isn’t primed for proper digestion—and may also cause your metabolism to slow. EHC recommends to follow your natural bedtime as closely as possible and let yourself wake up when your body is good and ready. It boosts metabolism.
Alcohol lowers heart disease risk. Unbelievable? Drinking in moderation is one of the three key behaviors that may help you live longer. The other two are eating right and getting enough exercise. That is because the ethanol (alcohol) acts like an anti-inflammatory and increases HDL or “good” cholesterol, which breaks up the bad cholesterol that gets stuck in your arteries. This results in a lower risk for heart disease and stroke. Be sure to stick to a two-drink maximum.
Beer adds up muscle mass. New studies found that the naturally occurring flavonoids in beer can increase muscle mass by preventing tissue breakdown during periods of inactivity. Antioxidants present in beer reduce the risk of heart disease. But like with liquor, limit your intake to one or two brews daily.
For sure it is not pleasant to have a stress-filled day at work. Research shows experiencing short periods of low-level stress can actually make your mind and body more effective. Stress causes heightened awareness, increased energy, and a surge in blood flow, all of which trigger a release of hormones that send protective chemicals into the bloodstream. This helps to boost immunity and reduce your risk for certain types of cancer.
People who face stressful life events develop a kind of emotional resilience that affords them better mental health and more life satisfaction than those who haven’t encountered such tough obstacles. While acute stress is generally short-lived, chronic stress is long-lasting, feels beyond your control, and may require support from a therapist if it endures beyond a few consecutive days. Left untreated, chronic stress can contribute to heart disease, depression and obesity.
Just because your favorite candy is not as healthy as, say, steamed kale, doesn’t mean that you should delete it from your diet altogether.
New research says that people who eat candy regularly have lower BMIs, smaller waist circumferences and lower levels of inflammation than those who completely shun the sugary stuff. While candy may taste just as sweet as other desserts, a single serving is typically lower in saturated fat and calories. Depriving yourself of sugar altogether can actually make you crave it more, leading you to overindulge when you finally give in.
You may reach for your sweet treats immediately after working out. That’s when your metabolism is high and muscles need quick-burning sugars for fuel. Limit yourself to a twice-weekly indulgence, and look for candy that contains less than 30 grams of sugar per serving.
It is not uncommon to respond to physical pain with a barrage of curse words. Turns out that unleashing a string of four-letter words can be cathartic in more ways than one. It actually increases pain tolerance, and reduces the perception of pain.
Our culture may value positive thinking, but expressing mixed emotions can actually yield better results than suppressing negative thoughts. Research on patients undergoing psychotherapy showed that people who expressed both happiness and sadness in personal narratives rated for emotional content had improved well-being compared to those who swung to one extreme or the other.
People who chewed gum for five minutes before a test actually had a performance advantage over those who didn’t, according to a series of experiments. Although these benefits only lasted for the first 15 to 20 minutes of the test, the gum chewers’ performance on a variety of difficult tests, as compared to non-chewers, were significant. The conclusion is that chewing gum increases brain power!
Those rumors you’ve been told not to spread are actually the antidote to bad behavior in groups—and indulging in some gossip over the water cooler can help keep your coworkers and teammates on their best behavior. That’s because knowing that you’ll be held accountable for your actions can actually improve them, so sharing the latest news in hushed tones can actually enhance group behavior.
Though most of us consider burping to be impolite, suppressing one of your body’s natural processes can actually be bad for you. In fact, it can actually trigger heart burn and chest pain. If you can’t let go of a burp in public, try changing your diet. Certain foods cause us to burp more than others, like carbonated beverages, beans and, for some people, sugarless candies. If you think you’re burping too much, see a doctor.