We all try to live a healthy life and avoid things that aren’t good for us. These days, it seems that effort becomes harder by the minute. In the age of processed chemical foods and inadequately or non-researched products hitting the market by the day, it’s difficult to even know what is unhealthy, much less avoid it. To help you along, here’s a list of 10 things you never knew were unhealthy for you.
1. Fluoride. Our dentists tell us that fluoride is good for our teeth — necessary, even. While it may have some small dental benefit, fluoride’s dangers far outweigh its advantages. Fluoride has been linked to cancer, decreased immune system function, and disturbances in brain function. It’s even been shown to contribute to the formation of wrinkles because of its interference with collagen production. Fluoride can be found in toothpaste, some mouthwashes, tablet supplements, and drinking water. While small amounts won’t do any immediate damage, constant exposure over time definitely has its effects. There’s a reason children under the age of six aren’t supposed to use fluoride toothpaste: swallowing a full tube can be fatal, and just half a tube can cause severe side effects.
2. Nutrition bars. Also marketed as energy bars, protein bars, or pretty much any type of “health food” bar, nutrition bars can cause far more harm than good. Yes, you’ll find plenty of nice, nutritional foods in them, such as nuts and whole grains, but that isn’t all you’ll find. Most nutrition bars are also loaded with carbs and sugar, along with a variety of chemicals that contribute to their taste and shelf stability. Enjoying one every so often probably won’t be detrimental to your health, but you should definitely avoid making a daily habit out of them. These types of quick snacks can lead to quick weight gain if you aren’t careful.
3. Soy products. It seems to happen time and again: we’re told something is the next golden ticket to our health and then, a decade or two later, we find out we’ve been enthusiastically murdering our good health. Soy became such a health movement that you can find some form of it as an alternative to just about anything. Existing in abundance doesn’t make it truly healthy, though. Soy products have been linked to breast cancer, infertility, sexual dysfunction, digestive disruptions, and even osteoporosis. Conservative amounts of soy on occasion in its whole-food form can be nutritive, but soy was never meant to be the foundation of an entire diet.
4. Cheap Sunglasses. Quality sunglasses are definitely beneficial, but beware of the five and ten dollar pairs you find at the local drugstore. Unless the lenses are treated to filter UV radiation, sunglasses can actually accelerate damage to your eyes. Why? Because sunglasses decrease the amount of light your eyes perceive, which makes the pupils dilate to allow more light in — so you can see, of course. With cheap sunglasses without UV protection, all you’re doing is allowing more radiation into your eyes without having to squint to do it.
5. Canned Foods. Those little tin cans contain wonderfully healthy foods that are incredibly convenient to have on hand. However, many tin cans are lined with BPA resin, which is a known carcinogen. Acidic foods such as tomatoes react with the BPA and cause leaching. Guess where all of that lovely carcinogen goes. Straight into the food and into your body. If you can’t go for fresh veggies all of the time, or if you need a way to keep food preserved, opt for those that are frozen or preserved in glass jars.
6. Vitamin Infused Beverages. Getting a few extra vitamins in sounds like a solid health plan, but beware of vitamin waters. First of all, the body can only handle so many vitamins before they become toxic. Second of all, most vitamins lose their potency by being suspended in water over time, so you’re really not getting much of anything that’s beneficial anyway. What’s most alarming, however, is the sheer amount of sugar that these types of beverages contain. As with nutrition bars, most consumers see these products as a healthy alternative to junk food products, but they’re really just calorie cows in disguise.
7. Margarine. With a call to reduce cholesterol and bad fats, many people turned to margarine as a substitute for butter. You don’t even want to know how this stuff is made and what it has to go through to be appealing to consumers. What’s worse is that it actually increases bad cholesterol and decreases the good kind. Plain, natural butter is a far better option when used in moderation.
8. Pressed wood products. You know all those furniture pieces that look like they’re made of sawdust cakes once you get past the pretty wood decal? Yeah, they can actually off-gas formaldehyde. Long-term exposure can lead to allergies, nausea, and even cancer.
9. Teflon. We all like our non-stick pans, but be careful. Overheating Teflon causes toxic chemicals to come out, none of which are particularly pleasant for your health. As Teflon pans begin to age and chip, get rid of them. Teflon chips are a potential carcinogen and you definitely don’t want to eat them. A good substitute for Teflon pans is Ceramic, non-stick cookware that isn’t bad for your health.
10. Fruit Juice. Very small amounts of fruit juice on occasion are fine. Beware, however, that fruit juice contains insanely high amounts of sugar that can contribute to tooth decay and an expanding waist line. If you want a fruity fix, go for the whole fruit and enjoy the added benefits of fiber along with the taste.
What are some things you thought were healthy that turned out not to be? Does anything on our list surprise you? Comment below.