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These are the 15 "Unhealthiest" Habits, Say Experts

Find out which habits to stop now in order to live a healthy life. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Did you know that some of your daily habits could be sabotaging your quest to live a clean lifestyle? While we all know the major bad behaviors to avoid like smoking, having too much excess fat and not getting 150 minutes of exercise per week, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends, there's so many other unhealthy habits that are harmful and just gross. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with several experts who share the unhealthiest bad habits to stop now. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Wearing Outdoor Shoes Indoors

Fitness sport woman in fashion sportswear lacing sport footwear for running

Gabby Martin, supervisor at Bio Recovery says, "Think of all the places you go with your shoes. If you aren't taking them off before entering your home, it's true you are tracking all that debris and microbiological matter. It's better to remove your shoes upon entering, and if you are able to, give them a wash down if you were in any place particularly messy."


Going Weeks Without Changing or Washing Bed Sheets


Dr. Ray (Revée Barbour), ND MS Naturopathic Doctor Integrative Medicine Researcher reveals, "Sleeping in unclean sheets can increase your risk of skin rashes, viral infections and allergies since the fiber from the sheets traps allergens and pathogens. What you should know: Wash your sheets weekly to reduce germs, sweat, dust and other unwanted allergens accumulating in your bed." 


Scrolling Social Media or "Doomscrolling" Before Bed

woman playing a game on her cell while sitting on couch

According to Dr. Ray, "Consuming excessive social media and internet content prior to sleep may disrupt your sleep from blue light exposure, and also may lead to problems with anxiety and depression from seeing negative images and themes. Our brains are naturally predisposed to 'doomscrolling because of how it satisfies the human desire to know information to feel safe or avoid danger."


Drinking from Plastic Water Bottles

woman drinking water

Dr. Ray tells us, "Microplastics are heavily present in our food, air and water sources. When ingested by humans, microplastic bioaccumulation leads to toxic levels that may cause dysfunction within immune and endocrine systems, and higher systemic inflammation. It's estimated we consume about a credit card amount weekly. It's best to use glass or stainless steel options for health, reusability and sustainability. One research study found that those who meet their daily recommended intake of water using only plastic water bottles may ingest an additional 9,000 microplastics annually."


Comparing Yourself to Others

Thoughtful girl sitting on sill embracing knees looking at window, sad depressed teenager spending time alone at home, young upset pensive woman feeling lonely or frustrated thinking about problems

Drake Ballew, founder and CEO of Practice Health reminds us, "One very unhealthy habit from a psychological standpoint is comparing yourself to others while looking at social media. Some people stare at Instagram or Facebook all day, looking at people's vacations or pictures of their houses and wondering why their own lives don't look as spectacular. This is a surefire way to make yourself feel bad or depressed, and for no reason. I always say, "Don't compare your insides to other people's outsides"; in other words, just because someone posts nice pictures doesn't mean they feel great about themselves, either. It's better to focus on living your own life without comparing yourself to others."



employees gossiping about their hard-working colleague in the office

Ballew says, "Another unhealthy habit is gossiping. It creates negative feelings that will inevitably cycle back to you. Even if the people you are gossiping about never catch wind of what you are saying, when you put negative thoughts and feelings into the atmosphere of your relationships, you are increasing the toxicity of the environment. It's much healthier to focus on positive things." 


Not Doing Strength Training

woman sitting with dumbbell at gym

Kent Probst, personal trainer, kinesiotherapist and bodybuilder with Long Healthy Life warns, "Stop allowing sarcopenia, or age-related loss of muscle mass.  A sedentary lifestyle accelerates sarcopenia.  Staying strong and maintaining muscle mass is a biomarker for longevity.  If you're not doing regular strength training, and you're over 30, you're losing muscle mass.  Most people lose 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age 30.  During the aging process, your muscles atrophy, or shrink.  Strength declines 10% to 15% per decade until age 70.  After age 70, loss of strength accelerates to 25% to 40% per decade."


Harming Your Joints

closeup man dealing with knee pain, arthritis

"Stop harming your joints," Probst states. "You can decrease the risk of arthritis by doing the following: Use good biomechanics and practice safety in your activities of daily living.  Keep your stress levels down.  Excessive stress causes inflammation in the body, worsening arthritis symptoms.  Not only is being overweight a risk factor for a host of diseases, it exacerbates the symptoms of arthritis."


Too Many Iced Beverages

young woman drinking iced tea
Shutterstock / Dragon Images

Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LCA, Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed Acupuncturist at Starting Point Acupuncture tells us, "Having too many iced drinks or beverages can affect our digestion. If possible, drink liquids at room temperature. Even eating too many cold foods like ice cream, cold salads, especially during the colder months, can disrupt your digestion. It does take your body longer to use and assimilate cold foods and drinks, which may affect metabolism but your digestion may be working on overdrive. When drinking room temperature water it is easier for our body to use it more efficiently."


The Three F's

Man eating pizza having a takeaway at home relaxing resting

Dr. Heintze states, "You probably have heard, "you are what you eat." This is kind of true. Using food as medicine is key for promoting a healthy and vibrant lifestyle. One of the top contributors I see to chronic pain and inflammation is dietary factors and eating the 3 F's: Fast food, Fatty, and Fried foods. You may be more prone to suffer from poor metabolism and inflammation. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet is key to reducing inflammation that may be leading to chronic aches and pains. Switch foods to more grass-fed and organic meats, load up on green veggies, and dark berries. Good fats such as avocado, olives, and nuts/seeds are a great addition as well."


The Time You Eat Meals


Stephen Brewer, MD, ABFM, Canyon Ranch Tucson Medical Director shares,"The time you eat your meal during the day can be almost as important as what you eat. The various aspects of food timing and the quantity of food during specific meal times can affect one's ability to lose weight. Eating large high-energy foods during the two hours before bedtime increases five times the probability of being obese. Among those individuals who have a higher food intake within two hours after waking up, have lower odds of being obese and double the probability of having a healthy weight.".


Drinking Before Bed

Sad woman drinking wine at kitchen.

Dr. Brewer explains, "People often drink alcohol to help them fall asleep, however after about 3 hours of sleep, the alcohol causes rebound alertness. With this the person wakes up and they can't fall back asleep. This results in lousy sleep and poor sleep can increase one's appetite the next day which can lead to weight gain."


Mindless Eating and Screen Time

Woman sitting on bed looking at phone bored and in a bad mood

Dr. Brewer tells us, "Eating in front of the TV or the computer isn't a good habit. We down a whole bag of potato chips before we know it because we are engrossed in what is happening on the screen. The focus is on the screen and not what we're eating. Keep those chips and pretzels away from you when you are engaged in some type of video work or even writing or studying.  Only eat when you can bring full attention and awareness to what you're eating."


Relying on Processed Foods

Obese woman laying on sofa with smartphone eating chips

Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD says, "Habits surrounding our food choices and diet patterns can significantly impact our mood and irritability. Consuming foods that impair gut health, like refined carbs and sugar, can lead to poor mood and irritability. These foods feed the bad bacteria, which then kill off the good bacteria. This imbalance in gut bacteria causes intestinal inflammation and degrades the lining of the gut. The neurons lining the gut play a major role in your mood because these neurons produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked to mood. By ignoring the gut-brain connection you could be causing irritability and mood issues without realizing."


Keto Diet

Keto plate

Rachel Fine, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with To The Pointe Nutrition states, "Unless medically indicated, I encourage consumers to be weary of the keto diet, which represents a low carb/high fat diet (fat intake >75% of total calories) often equates to a diet low in fiber. Fiber, which is a functional component of most carbohydrate based foods, plays a major role in our digestive health and the prevention of constipation. For many people, suddenly giving up fiber-filled foods means giving up these sources of dietary fiber that their bodies relied upon for digestive regularity." 

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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