Healthy Habits
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4 Health Habits You Can Take Too Far

Turns out, you really can have too much of a good thing.

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Sure, you may think that getting a few extra hours of sleep is a good thing. But getting extra shuteye may actually signal an underlying health condition? And those protein bars -- they may have more calories than they're worth. Click through to learn what family practitioner Kerry Eley, MD, of Chippenham Hospital and John Randolph Medical Center in Virginia, has to say about these and other seemingly healthy habits that could be sabotaging your health.

See Dr. Eley’s Answers

Packing in Protein Bars

2 / 5 Packing in Protein Bars

If you need a little snack to push through your workout, you may grab a protein bar without much thought. They seem like a healthy snack but some brands actually have as much sugar as your favorite candy bar. Before you refuel with a protein bar, check the food and nutrition label: Look for bars with at least 10 grams of protein, less than 15 grams of sugar, less than 4 grams of fat and is no more than 350 calories. Other easy, protein-packed snacks include string cheese, a handful of nuts, a spoonful of peanut butter on an apple or a cup of Greek yogurt. “I keep 100-calorie packs of almonds around to snack on,” says Dr. Eley.

Learn about some other eating mistakes you may be making.

Making Up for Lost ZZZ’s

3 / 5 Making Up for Lost ZZZ’s

Did you know that getting too much sleep could be as harmful as getting too little sleep? A study published in the journal Sleep found that adults who slept more than eight hours a night had a greater mortality risk than those who slept less than six hours. What the study most likely demonstrates, though, is that those who sleep too much may have an underlying health problem. Too much sleep may be a sign of depression, sleep apnea or thyroid problems, Eley says.

It’s also unhealthy to try to “catch up” on lost sleep. “Recent studies show that staying up late all week and trying to catch up on sleep over the weekend could increase the risk of metabolic diseases,” Eley warns.

Drinking Too Much Water

4 / 5 Drinking Too Much Water

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as drinking too much water—especially if you’re a triathlete or marathoner. Water cannot replace the electrolytes lost when you sweat a lot, says Eley. In fact, drinking too much water after heavy sweating could cause your sodium levels to bottom out, which may lead to brain swelling, seizures and even a coma. “That’s why runners and marathoners should consume sports drinks with electrolytes,” she says. But you don’t want to overdo sports drinks, either. The best rule of thumb, regardless of what you drink, is to drink only when you’re thirsty. 

Sports drinks are not necessary for people doing moderate-intensity exercises.

‘Drinking to That’ Too Often

5 / 5 ‘Drinking to That’ Too Often

While studies show health benefits of drinking red wine, the American Heart Association by no means recommends increasing alcohol consumption to lower your risk of heart disease. If you find yourself at a happy hour, drink in moderation. The AHA recommends an average of one to two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women (one drink equals about 12 oz of beer and 4 oz of wine).

Drinking any more than this on a regular basis could increase your risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer. Eley adds, “People who binge drink have a much higher risk of stroke, arrhythmias and sudden death.”