8 Bad Habits That are Surprisingly Good For You

March 24, 2014
by Michael Barber
8 Bad Habits That are Surprisingly Good For You

Remember those things your mother always said, "All that coffee is bad for you, you've got to keep your room clean, stop wasting your time online, quit smacking that gum!" While many of the things dear old Mom said were true, some of her advice isn't backed by the latest research. Find out where you can fudge on Mom's Book of Rules.

Related: An Apple a Day May Not Keep the Doctor Away, But Here's What Will

1. Indulging (A Little) in Your Cravings 

Busting your diet with a half-pound burger, super-size fries, and a gallon-size soft drink followed by two apple pies isn't good. But occasionally indulging in some of the treats you like helps in several ways. First, minor indulgences along the way help ward off major binges that build up after lengthy denials. Second, a nibble of chocolate actually has antioxidants that are good for you, as well as a calming effect on your nerves and some relief from the blues. 

2. Sipping a Beer 

Remember all those reports about how red wine is good for your heart? As it happens, beer contains malted barley, which is chock-full of the same heart healthy antioxidants found in red wine. Plus, beer has vitamin B6, another known heart health booster. The silica in beer also helps build strong bones. Pale ale is your best bet for getting all these heart health benefits.

Related: The Harsh Reality of College Drinking

3. Chugging Coffee 

Though the major reason for guzzling coffee is to help you start your day, that morning java also lowers your risk of developing Parkinson's disease (the disabling disease suffered by Michael J. Fox and Mohammed Ali), and also decreases your risk for certain types of cancer and Type II Diabetes. Coffee is a natural anti-inflammatory, containing wonderful antioxidants to help you fight headaches. 

4. Leaving Your House Messy 

Believe it or not, that unmade bed is less likely to harbor dust mites and allergens than your mom's pristine bed that's made to military specifications by 6 a.m. every day. A made-up bed gives mites a safe harbor. Additionally, houses that are too sterile are absent of beneficial bacteria. When your body isn't exposed to a normal amount of bad bacteria, it's less able to combat illnesses you come into contact with later on. 

5. Wasting Time on the Internet 

Feeling guilty about that hour a week spent shopping online, or that half hour you spent surfing the net for cute cat videos? Don't. Surfing the Internet for reasonable lengths of time helps develop reasoning skills, and shopping online helps develop your sense of strategy. Those who spend moderate time online actually make better decisions. 

6. Chewing Gum 

Smacking gum may not be polite in some company, but it has some real health benefits. It can help you lose weight two ways: by burning calories and giving you a sense of fullness. There is also evidence that chewing gum boosts your long-term memory.

Related: Warning: Choking Hazard

7. Occasional Temper Tantrums 

While nobody encourages a raving fit on a daily basis, the regular expression of anger is healthy. People able to express their anger are better decision makers. Also, the regular expression of your feelings helps keep you from developing health problems associated with holding in your feelings. 

8. Sleeping In 

Many of todays illnesses, accidents, and injuries are related to a lack of sleep. Good sleep helps your body heal and helps your brain function properly. Occasionally sleeping in, instead of hitting the gym first thing, might actually help your body more than exercise.

Related: Hey Sleepyhead, How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Really Need?

Don't throw all Mom's advice out the window - but realize that there are a few areas where you can get by with not following the rules.