3 Health Mistakes Smart People Make

The little things you can fix right now to keep your body healthy and happy in the long run.
By Sari Harrar

Nina Vaclavova/iStock ImagesNina Vaclavova/iStock ImagesMISTAKE 1: Getting too tipsy.
Sure, a drink a day helps keep your heart healthy. But downing your week's quota on the weekend is a bad plan, a University of Buffalo study says. Getting tipsy just once a month triples heart-disease risk. Says Suzanne Thomas, Ph.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina's Charleston Alcohol Research Center: "Alcohol is especially toxic for women because we're smaller, we have more body fat [which processes alcohol more quickly than muscle], and we have lower levels of stomach enzymes that metabolize alcohol than men do."

The Solution: Start off the evening with club soda. And save the wine for dinner. That way, the food in your stomach slows the absorption of alcohol. Thomas also stretches her drinks: "I'll befriend the bartender and ask for one serving of gin in three separate glasses with tonic over the course of the night. That's three drinks - but only an ounce of alcohol." Wine spritzers also do the trick. Just don't forget to tip.

MISTAKE 2: Popping extra acetaminophen.
The label says "650 milligrams every four to six hours," so wouldn't a little more kick the pain faster? "Acetaminophen is misused because it's considered 'safe and mild,'" says Dr. Anne M. Larson, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Exceeding the recommended dosage can lead to liver damage or even failure and kills about 100 people each year.

The Solution: Stick with the advised dose. And don't mix acetaminophen with other drugstore remedies. "Nearly all over-the-counter cold, flu, sinus, and allergy remedies also contain acetaminophen," Larson says, as do some menstrual-cramp formulas and prescription painkillers like Vicodin, Darvocet, and Percocet. If you're unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

MISTAKE 3: Dropping pounds with diet drinks.
A University of Texas Health Science Center study found that people who sipped one diet soda a day for seven years were 41 percent more likely to be overweight than non-soda drinkers. The reason: Diet drinks often lead to overeating as people "spend" the calories they just saved on a second slice of pizza or a cookie. There's also evidence that artificial sweeteners may whet your appetite for more sweets.

The Solution: Sip water, coffee, or unsweetened tea. If you crave a sweet taste, add a half teaspoon of sugar (just 7 calories) or natural agave syrup (10 calories) to coffee or tea. If plain water is too bland for you, try a flavored unsweetened water.

>> 3 MORE HEALTH MISTAKES SMART PEOPLE MAKE


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Reprinted with Permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.