17 “Bad Habits” That Are Actually Good for You

We’ve all heard about how we’re supposed to clean up, spit out that gum and turn down that music. We’ve also be told about how we won’t find success if we’re lazy, or how anger and stress can be sources for various health problems down the road. But what if all of these things were actually good for you? Is it possible that all we’ve heard about soda and gambling are wrong? Well, as always, too much of something is usually bad for you. But in moderation, some of the “unhealthy” things that we do might actually have some health benefits, reports Britain’s Daily Mail. Here are 17 “bad habits” that are actually good for you.

  1. 800px-Soft_drink_shelfSoft drinks: We’ve all heard the horror stories about how drinking soda will rot your teeth, and the sugar in them will contribute to obesity. If you drink a great deal of soda, this is probably true. But what if you only have about two cans a day (that’s about 24 ounces)? Carbonated drinks, when taken in moderation, can boost memory and even possible delay Alzheimer’s. The key is the fact that humans have a “glucose memory system”. When you have the amount of sugar in a can of soda, your memory retention improves. And, these benefits can be further felt when you drink soda fortified with vitamins and minerals. Just be careful not to overdo it.
  2. Chewing gum: Not only are we told that gum chewing is a disgusting and noisy habit, but we are also cautioned that it can wreak havoc on our teeth, and cause other problems. However, if you can chew quietly and discreetly, and confine your gum-chewing to sugar-free, it is possible to reap a few health benefits from gum. Gum chewing can relieve stress, prevent tooth decay (as long as it is sugar free) and even aid in memory functions. If you chew right after a meal, you can reduce the effect of food acids on your teeth. The military is even considering using gum as a replacement for toothbrushes for some soldiers.
  3. Alcohol: We’ve all heard the horror stories related to binge drinking. And, indeed, alcohol is a culprit when it comes to diabetes, liver damage, heart disease, cancer and other health problems. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its good points. Indeed, moderate alcohol consumption can stave off the very health problems large amounts of drinking can create. Moderation means 1 – 4 drinks a day, depending on your age, sex, weight and other factors. A drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor. Recovering alcoholics should abstain.
  4. Caffeine: Long maligned for its ability to raise the heart rate and possibly cause hypertension, caffeine is often looked on as something undesirable. It’s addictive qualities also need to be taken into consideration. However, in moderate amounts, caffeine can actually provide health benefits. Caffeine can help with mood, help reduce headaches, reduce the risk of colon cancer and even help you keep your diabetes under control. However, like other foods, you should take your caffeine in moderation. Keep it to between 1 and 3 cups of coffee for your best chance reaping some health benefits.
  5. Swearing: We’re often told not to swear. It’s impolite. It’s a bad habit that showcases your lack of vocabulary. It can also ease your pain. What? That’s right. According to a recent study at Keele University in Britain, swearing can actually increase your ability to tolerate pain. Using curse words is a way to help your brain and body cope with pain — especially sudden pain.
  6. Anger: Just as we’re told to avoid swearing, we’re also counseled to hold in our anger. Being angry, we are told, can increase hypertension and contribute to heart disease. However, holding it in all the time may not be the best thing for you, either. Instead, carefully channeling your anger, blowing off steam, can actually result in increased optimism and control. Anger can also aid in decision making when properly used. Watch out for fear and frustration, though. Those emotions are less helpful than fear.
  7. Stress: Don’t get stressed out, right? Wrong. Even though prolonged stress can be bad for you, reducing you immune response, in some cases stress is helpful. Stress can push you to improve your performance, and it can help keep you alert and energized. Just watch out for periods of long and excessive stress. Those can be detrimental to your health.
  8. Loud Music: No, you don’t have to turn it down. Loud music can provide benefits for your brain. There is a part of the inner ear, called the sacculus, that responds musical beats. According to the folks at Britain’s Manchester University, the sacculus doesn’t have anything to do with hearing — but it does connect to the brain’s pleasure centers. You can become happier and more responsive, thanks to a little help from your favorite rock group.
  9. Video Games: A sedentary lifestyle and brain-rotting activities are often associated with video games. However, it appears that playing video games can boost your metabolism. And you don’t even need to be playing motion games on the Wii. When playing intense video games and mock martial arts games, such as Resident Evil and Tekken, heart rates elevate and breathing quickens. However, it is important that videos are no substitute for actual vigorous exercise. But it’s better than just sitting there, watching TV.
  10. Fidgeting: Children are always been told not to fidget, and as adults we try to control the impulse to shift about. But maybe fidgeting isn’t such a bad thing. There is some evidence that fidgeting can actually fight fat. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic estimate that fidgeting behavior — yawning, stretching, finger drumming, twitching and tapping — can burn up to 350 calories a day. Over the course of a year, it is possible to make a difference of between 10 and 30 pounds in your weight.
  11. Being Lazy: We’re often told that being lazy is bad for you. You fall behind, and being sedentary will contribute to weight gain, we’re told. But a certain amount of laziness is actually good for you. The rest helps give you time to rejuvenate, and it can even help you relieve the bad kind of stress. Extra points if you use some of your lazy time for meditation.
  12. Daydreaming: Sure, you may get called out at work or in class for daydreaming, but this “bad habit” can actually be good for you. Daydreaming not only provides us with an escape and a brief respite from problems, but it can also contribute to information sorting. It is an interesting cognitive state that is necessary to increase the effectiveness of the way you process information.
  13. A Dirty House: OK, so living in a sty will probably result in poor health. Not to mention making your home extremely unpleasant to live in. However, there is nothing wrong with avoiding making your home perfectly sterile. In fact, overuse of the chemicals commonly used in housecleaning can be more adverse than keeping your home spotless. Studies show that early exposure to cleaning chemicals can increase the chance that children will develop asthma and serious allergies by an early age.
  14. Getting Dirty: As children, we’re told to avoid dirt and getting dirty. Interestingly, though, this is not always the best thing. Dirt and soil contain a certain type of bacteria that is actually good for you. This bacteria stimulates the immune system and also triggers serotonin, which contributes to feelings of well-being.
  15. Untidiness: I almost never make my bed. And, apparently, that’s a good thing. House dust mites love the bedroom. A made bed retains the moisture and warmth from the night before. This provides an ideal environment for dust mites, which can then be inhaled and cause allergies and other problems. But an unmade bed allows the moisture to dissipate and the warmth to disappear, causing dust mites to die.
  16. Bingo: B-I-N-G-O! Playing bingo actually has a good effect on you. While gambling can be addictive and dangerous, it can also provide you with a bit of excitement and keep you alert. Bingo also has the added benefit of getting you out of the house and socializing, which can be important to emotional health, especially for those who are aging.
  17. Online Poker: The rise in popularity of online poker has led to a number of problems. However, when indulged in occasionally, online poker can be positive. It stimulates brain activity, and provides you with some sort of social interaction (albeit online). However, it is important to be careful not to compromise your finances with online poker. Maybe just hit the free fun poker sites.
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