It’s well known that eating nutritious foods, exercising, and getting enough sleep can all boost long-term health.
However, doctors have revealed the surprising habits they avoid, from cutting alcohol and nixing garlic to never sitting on the back of a motorcycle or running to the bathroom too often.
While health claims around alcohol have been notoriously murky, research has gradually shown that cutting down on it could have long-lasting benefits, including better sleep, healthier skin, and a slimmer waistline. Experts said that they either limit themselves to one drink per day or avoid it altogether.
Fad diets have gone viral on social media, all claiming to be better than the next, but doctors told DailyMail.com that it’s better not to follow any of them.
And it turns out there is such a thing as drinking too much water and peeing too often.
Here are the 12 everyday habits that doctors told DailyMail.com they avoid:
Dr David Shusterman (left) and Dr Tommy Ibrahim (right) told DailyMail.com they stay away from garlicky foods, alcohol, diets, and sugary drinks, among others
Eating garlicky foods
Garlic is known for having immune-boosting properties and containing nutrients like vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and fiber. One clove also contains less than five calories.
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who took supplements made with aged garlic extract for three months during cold and flu season had less severe symptoms and missed fewer days of school.
However, experts said that they try not to load up on it.
‘Garlic, even despite some of the health benefits that come along with garlic consumption, can generally have some other unintended side effects, particularly in the GI system,’ Dr Tommy Ibrahim, president and CEO of Bassett Healthcare Network in New York state, told DailyMail.com.
‘It certainly contributes to heartburn, can contribute to stomach issues, bloating, gas, and some other unpleasant side effects.’
‘And that’s certainly true for me, so I usually avoid high-garlic foods.’
Garlic is high in fructans, which are carbs that can lead to digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, and stomach pain. It can also trigger acid reflux by decreasing muscle movement in the esophagus. This causes stomach acid to get backed up, which can lead to heartburn and nausea.
‘If something sparks my interest on a menu and…it includes garlic, I always ask the server or the chef to avoid adding additional garlic for sure,’ Dr Ibrahim said.
‘I tend to just kind of shy away from it completely.’
Drink more than a glass of alcohol a day
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Excessive alcohol use has long been shown to contribute to health issues like liver damage, high blood pressure, and heart disease. However, Dr Ibrahim has ditched it altogether.
‘(Alcohol) was something that I actually gave up completely about 18 months ago. I was always just kind of a social drinker, but as I’ve aged a little bit over the past few years, I’ve noticed a significant impact with just even moderate to mild consumption,’ he said.
‘So I decided to cut it out completely, and since then, I felt that I’m getting significantly better sleep, a little bit more energized, waking up in the morning, having just a broader vibrancy.’
‘It’s been something that’s been great.’
Dr Ibrahim also said that he’s been able to set an example for his children by removing alcohol from his diet.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that no amount of alcohol is safe, and recent research has suggested that the risks of alcohol may outweigh any potential benefits.
Earlier this summer, researchers from Oxford University examined data from over 500,000 Chinese adults, one-third of whom drank alcohol at least once a week. They found that alcohol use increased the risk of 60 diseases in men, including liver and colorectal cancers, gout, cataracts, and ulcers.
Dr David Shusterman, a urologist in New York, told DailyMail.com: ‘Excessive alcohol use is different than having a glass of wine over dinner. If you have a small amount of alcohol, your body processes it pretty well.’
‘The problem is when you’re drinking more than a glass a day, so I avoid drinking more than one glass a day.’
Peeing too often
‘If you just peed an hour before, you’re not going to really accumulate a lot in that hour. It’s better to have a full bladder when you go to the bathroom,’ Dr Shusterman said
Believe it or not, it is possible to take too many bathroom trips.
‘It is good to maintain bladder health by not voiding too soon,’ Dr Shusterman said. ‘If you have a small amount of urine in your bladder (and) your body’s telling you to go, you could probably wait a little bit.’
‘Unless you’re drinking a whole lot of water at one time, your bladder is not going to fill up quickly.’
Going too often is a problem because it trains the bladder to respond to smaller and smaller volumes of urine, which makes you have to pee more often.
‘What happens is that you’re exercising your bladder muscle uselessly. It’s kind of a vicious cycle,’ Dr Shusterman said.
‘If you just peed an hour before, you’re not going to really accumulate a lot in that hour. It’s better to have a full bladder when you go to the bathroom.’
Riding a motorcycle
In 2021, more than 6,000 motorcyclists died in crashes, the highest number ever recorded, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). About 80,000 were injured.
Dr Ibrahim said he avoids getting on the back of a motorcycle entirely for personal reasons.
‘I used to actually own a motorcycle, and it was the same day that I actually bought my motorcycle that I had a really, really good friend actually lose his life to a pretty tragic motorcycle accident,’ he said.
‘So immediately after that happened, I actually sold my motorcycle and never got on one again, so that is something I avoid right now.’
The IIHS also estimates that the number of motorcycle deaths is nearly 24 times that of car accident deaths.
‘It’s a very important thing to look at areas in your life where you can improve the safety, especially if you do something high risk,’ Dr Shusterman said.
Skipping their annual checkup
Annual checkups can help spot health problems before they become more advanced
Dr Shusterman is a proponent of getting your yearly checkup, even if you feel perfectly healthy.
‘It’s important to get an annual evaluation for both young and old people because you never know what things are going to reveal. And if we find that out early, it’s critical in terms of figuring out what’s going in,’ he said.
‘If you’re not coming in on a regular basis, by the time you come in, things have already advanced most of the time.’
A 2023 survey of more than 2,000 US adults from insurance company Aflac found that one in four skip annual checkups because they feel completely healthy.
The survey also found that over half of respondents who found out they had cancer were diagnosed via routine screening.
Skipping meals or overeating
‘The number one thing that people have a problem with is overeating,’ Dr Shusterman said.
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women should consume about 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day, while men should get about 2,200 to 3,200 per day.
However, data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found that the average daily calories consumed worldwide increased by nine percent from last year to about 2,900 per day.
‘Eating smaller frequent meals throughout the day is always better than three larger meals,’ Dr Ibrahim said.
Additionally, he said that skipping meals can also prove dangerous. ‘I think skipping meals and overeating is always problematic, particularly as people age,’ he said.
A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that teens who skipped breakfast were more likely to develop stress and depression.
Also, a 2022 review in the journal Nutrients suggested that skipping meals and eating at irregular times could lead to an increased risk of obesity.
While diets like keto and carnivore can be great for weight loss, they also come with an increased risk of heart disease and other disease. There are many health benefits to going vegan – but it could also leave a person short on some crucial vitamins and minerals
Fad diets have popped up left and right in recent years, especially on social media sites like TikTok.
Some of these, such as the Mediterranean Diet, have consistently been linked to lower risks of heart disease and stroke, as well as increased longevity. However, others, such as keto, are more controversial.
A 2013 meta-analysis of more than 250,000 participants, for example, found that those who ate keto were 31 percent more likely to die of heart disease.
Dr Ibrahim prefers to stay away from these entirely. ‘I don’t believe in diets,’ he said. ‘I think diets are just short-term, small gains. Without true lifestyle improvements, it’s really hard to maintain long-term benefits.’
‘I’m a big believer in just maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and a routine exercise regimen.’
Drinking sugary beverages
Some of the most popular sodas on the market are loaded with sugar. Classics like Mountain Dew and Fanta have as many as 65 grams of sugar, more than 18 cookies or six donuts.
However, it’s not just sodas that are too sweet. Dr Shusterman said that many fruit juices, which may seem healthy, are also packed with added sugars. A 2019 study from Harvard University, for example, found that drinking three-and-a-half extra glasses of orange juice per week can raise the risk of diabetes by 15 percent.
‘I think those are really bad for most people, especially if they’re undiluted,’ he said. ‘People buy orange juice and cranberry juice and all these juices, and their carbohydrate and sugar count is through the roof.’
The USDA states that the average amount of sugar in both soda and fruit juice is 20- to 26 grams per cup. Federal guidelines recommend no more than 24 grams for women and 36 grams for men per day.
‘Sugar by itself is very bad for you in high amounts,’ Dr Shusterman said.
‘I tell people to get off the soda and all that stuff and just go to regular seltzer. It’s much healthier for you.’
Seltzer water is often calorie- and sugar-free.
Drinking too much water
Staying hydrated is critical for maintaining overall health, but there is such a thing as too much water.
‘The amount of water should be about two liters a day. Not more, not less,’ Dr Shusterman said.
This is about eight cups.
Dr Shuster said that one danger of this is retaining water, which happens when the body can’t get rid of it fast enough. This causes parts of the body, like the ankles, feet, and hands, to swell from excess inflammation.
It can also lead to water toxicity, which causes symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion, disorientation, drowsiness, and muscle cramps.
In some cases, the condition can be deadly. Earlier this year, a mother in Indiana died after drinking four 16-ounce bottles of water in 20 minutes. This is nearly two liters, Dr Shusterman’s suggested daily limit.
Adding extra salt
‘I would never have a salt shaker on the table,’ Dr Shusterman said.
It’s obvious that eating too much salt can lead to detrimental consequences.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 90 percent of Americans eat too much salt. The American Heart Association recommends 2,300 milligrams per day.
Nearly 500,000 US deaths each year are attributed to high blood pressure, which has long been linked to overconsumption of salt.
Too much sodium can lead to a host of other diseases, including heart disease and stroke.
‘I think the medical literature speaks for itself in terms of high salt consumption and what they can do regarding risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and other sorts of ramifications,’ Dr Ibrahim said.
Vaping or smoking
Federal data suggests that about 14 percent – over 2.5 million – of American youth from 6th through 12th grades vape, while another study reported one in 20 American adults vape. That compares to just one in 10 tobacco smokers
The risks of smoking, such as lung cancer, have been well-established.
‘Smoking is probably the number one early killer of people. Smoking is very, very bad for you,’ Dr Shusterman said.
‘If you take a cigarette once a week, you’re probably going to be okay. But if you’re doing it on a daily basis, your body simply absorbs too many of the carcinogens and destroys your lungs and creates a very bad cascading effect.’
But a growing body of research suggests vaping also poses serious long-term health risks – especially to the lungs and heart.
Earlier this year, the AHA warned that the cocktail of nicotine, thickeners, solvents, and flavors in vape devices poses greater risks to heart health than smoking cigarettes.
Long-term exposure to diacetyl and acetyl propionyl, two flavoring additives, has been linked to shortness of breath, chronic cough, asthma, and obstructed airways.
‘(The risk) goes for vaping, too, because vaping is better than smoking, but it still hurts your lungs, and it makes you less able to exercise and maintain an active lifestyle,’ Dr Shusterman said.
‘I think it’s better to try to avoid all these things that are not needed for your body.’