TODAY   |  September 27, 2012

7 ‘healthy’ habits that may actually hurt you

Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, contributing editor of Prevention magazine, discusses health habits that may actually be hurting you, like brushing immediately after meals or relaxing on the couch before bed.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this morning's on today's health, seven habits you think are healthy but could actually be doing you more harm than good. here to set the record straight is the contributing head or the for "prevention" magazine. good morning.

>> good morning.

>> i have been railing on this segment since i received the notes last night. i'm going to give you time to explain. let's jump into the first of the seven. people believe that when you go to the toilet, public restroom, women, we squat. and you think you're being healthy by doing that as opposed to sitting on the seat itself.

>> exactly. so at prevention we want you to have good healthy habits and a avoid these health traps. when you squat, you contract the pelvic muscles, so you don't empty your bladder completely, which is the perfect set -up for a uti.

>> that's a urinary tract infection , which is disaster.

>> which is also a disaster.

>> so a better option may actually be to use the toilet seat covers, that way you'll empty your bladder frequently. and if you are prone to frequent utis, there's research that shows cranberry juice helps prevent urinary tract infections .

>> i think i told you somewhere advertised you can get your own toilet cover you can carry with you when you travel in case they don't have them.

>> you need to do that, sure, go ahead. just don't squat.

>> just don't squat. okay, unless you're in the gym. brushing your teeth directly after meals. i think every dentist i've had in my entire life said you're supposed to brush after every meal.

>> we know it's a healthy habit. but brushing right after a meal may not be your best bet .

>> why?

>> because certain foods, like acidic foods, your sodas, fruits, and tomatoes will soften the enamel on your death, so you erode that. it may be a better idea to wait 30 or 60 minutes after a meal before brushing. or another trick is to mix up a solution of baking soda and water and about a 1 to 8 ratio and rinse after the meal with that.

>> that's a good idea. next, moving on. grazing or eating small, frequent meals. people tell you you can keep your metabolism stoked.

>> i call it the calorie trap. but, if those meals are eaten late into the night , then you're really increasing your caloric load, which is preventing weight loss and promoting weight gain . i think a neat little tip is to really think about eating in about a 10 to 12-hour window. if you ate breakfast as your first meal at 7:00 in the morning. then you cut off at about 7:00 in the evening and no more eating after that.

>> that's good one. 7:00 to 7:00. good one. moving on to the glass of wine or the night cap , or words with friends before bed. that's a bad idea.

>> turning that phone down is a great option in terms of silencing the phone, but then using that same device to play games or surf the internet or to do all kinds of other activities, you're not relaxing. the body's not allowed to wind down. you've got to remember that all electronics, your tv, computer, your phone emit a blue light which delays our internal body clock and keeps us wired and awake. so the best idea is to really turn everything off, jump into bed and do something nonelectronic.

>>> number five, getting chores out of the way is a good idea, but you say a chore a day won't keep the doctor away.

>> i know we're all guilty of this. we've got those lists, we've got to get them done and we obsess about them until they're done. however, walking into your house after a heavy-duty day and seeing a bunch of clutter, which is stressful, but trying to make yourself de-clutter in a short period of time is equally stressful, spikes your cortisol, drops your health and your health-fighting ability and is not a good idea. sometimes it's a better idea just to relax, put your feet up and don't worry about it.

>> on your list you also say don't try to catch up on missed sleep over the weekend and also changing your pillow case weekly does not tackle the problem, you need to change the pillow.

>> exactly. wash your pillows.

>> thanks. i feel better. i hope you at home feel