6 “Healthy” Items That Are Hazardous To Your Health
By Angelique Johnson
Sometimes you buy products thinking that they will improve your life in one way or another – antibacterial soap to kill germs, a humidifier to relieve sinus congestion…
But these everyday household items can actually be worse for you than you thought, triggering your allergies, causing skin infections and other problems, even if used correctly.
The good news is, fixing these “healthy” item purchase mistakes is unquestionably simple, marvelously quick and can help keep you and your family safe.
1. Antibacterial Soap
Washing your hands is easily one of the best ways to protect yourself against contracting or spreading a disease. However, contrary to popular belief, antibacterial soaps DO NOT help improve that protection. In fact, they can cause even worse problems.
Studies have shown that those who use antibacterial soaps and cleansers still develop flu-like symptoms, such as coughing, a runny nose, fever and a sore throat. Some people have even experienced vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms just as often as individuals who use regular hand and body soaps.
This is because most of these symptoms are caused by viruses. The viruses can’t be killed by antibacterial soaps any better than regular soaps. Even if some of the symptoms are caused by bacteria versus a virus, antibacterial soaps still offer no advantage over normal soap, making them completely worthless for protecting you more efficiently against getting sick.
In fact, research has shown that antibacterial soap can even give rise to superbugs as it kills the weaker bacteria, allowing stronger bacteria to thrive.
Most antibacterial soaps contain a chemical called triclosan. Triclosan is an ingredient added to many consumer products to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that antibacterial soaps with triclosan are no better at killing bacteria than regular soaps.
In fact, triclosan can actually hurt you as a study published in Toxicology Sciences showed that triclosan can cause hormonal imbalances and can suppress thyroid hormone in animal models.
Just use regular soap. Continue to wash your hands regularly, but avoid products that contain triclosan. Essential oils such as lavender, tea tree oil and rosemary are also great antibacterials and antifungals.
2. Your Loofah
It might make showering a pleasantly sudsy experience, but loofahs are actually a breeding ground for bacteria, fungi and mold. This is made worse by the humid, warm confines of your shower. As you bathe yourself, any tiny cuts or nicks you may have on your body are at risk of being infected. This could lead to conditions such as impetigo or folliculitis.
Don’t worry, you can still use a loofah, but only if you follow these essential loofah rules:
- Choose one made with natural fibers as they have enzymes that can help control mold, mildew and bacterial growths.
- Replace you loofah every month. Yes, every month!
- Rinse your loofah thoroughly after every use and wring out all the water after every use.
- Store the loofah in a cool, dry environment.
3. Your Humidifier
For those who live in drier and colder climates, a humidifier can be useful when you need relief from cold-weather ailments like dry skin and a stuffed up nose. However, if these machines are not cleaned properly and often enough, they can begin to grow a variety of pathogens and molds.
Those mold then have their spores misted into the air you’re breathing when you turn on the humidifier. Plus, too much moisture in a room can encourage dust mites to breed, which is a huge problem if you suffer from allergies.
The morning after using a humidifier, don’t just turn it off and let it sit there. Remove any water left in the bowl to prevent it from growing moldy and dry out the bowl completely.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, humidifiers must be cleaned out every third day of use by using a brush to scrub the tank and remove and film deposits left behind.
That yellow, gunky, oily substance in your ears, however unappealing, is actually there for a very good reason. Ear wax’s main job is to protect the very delicate inside of your ear from dust, debris and (eek!) bugs.
However, sometimes it builds up and may cause an earache or cause a clogged feeling in your ear. So what do most people usually reach for? A Q-tip. But surprise! Doctors want you to stop doing this immediately. If the Q-tip is accidentally shoved past the ear canal, not only are you shoving the wax deeper, but you may risk damaging your ear drum.
Just stop using Q-tips. Whatever can’t be taken out by your finger or by allowing water to pour into the ear and clean it while showering, should stay in there. It’s doing its job: protecting your ears.
However, if you do have an earache and you think it is related to wax buildup, see an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor).
5. Your Office Chair
You’ve heard it before and it’s definitely true: sitting is killing us. Heart disease, obesity – the list goes on; sitting is harming us more than we think. And research shows that even exercising regularly cannot offset the damage of sitting so much throughout the day.
While there’s no way to avoid sitting all day at your desk job (unless you have a stand up desk), there are some things you can do to help. Get up and stretch every couple of hours. Go take a quick two minute walk, which a study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology showed can help reduce your risk of mortality by 23%.
6. Your Blender
Question: do you wash your blender every time you use it to make a delicious smoothie? Of course you do. But do you wash the blender gasket (the rubber ring that helps hold the blade in place) as well?
A report published by NSF International found that out of all the items in the kitchen, the blender gasket was the third most disgusting item. Covered in germs, the blender gasket is home to Salmonella, E. coli, yeast and even mold if not cleaned properly.
After nourishing your body with a delicious juice or smoothie, pull the blender apart and wash the entire thing with the blender gasket. And yes, according to the NSF, you should do this every single time.
What was your unhealthy item report card grade? Are you guilty of practicing any of these hazardous health harming habits? Let us know in the comments below!
Angelique Johnson is a nutritionist from Miami, FL. Through her own journey in weight loss, she discovered her love for health and nutrition and realized she wanted to help others achieve a healthier lifestyle. Angelique has been featured as a nutrition consult on CBS4 Miami News and is a published author on many online health sites. She is passionate about debunking diet rumors and showing her clients how to have a healthy, balanced relationship with food.
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