As the saying goes, nothing in life is black and white. Habits widely considered to be vices are often vilified—but are they really that bad?
Rationalizing is one thing, but it turns out science actually shows that some of our so-called bad habits might actually be good for us (or at least not harmful). Below are the top five bad habits researchers recommend you stop feeling guilty about. See if any of yours made the list.
1. You Probably Don’t Need To Cut Back On Coffee
Your morning coffee might feel like too much of a good thing. But indulging in coffee is not a bad habit unless it’s rich in sugar, creamers, and other additives, which are the real culprits. In fact, coffee has significant health benefits.
Past studies linked drinking coffee with serious health conditions, such as asthma and heart disease. But as it turned out, most of those study subjects were smokers, so the results were unreliable.
In more recent studies, researchers found that coffee and tea consumption actually improved health. One study found a substantial reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease when you drink two to three cups of coffee daily, whether ground, instant, or decaffeinated.
Pairing coffee with tea may further boost its benefits. In recent studies, drinking both tea and coffee has been found to significantly lower stroke and dementia risks.
And if you worry that drinking all that caffeine will make you dehydrated, think again. Contrary to popular belief, drinks with moderate amounts of caffeine give the same level of hydration as drinks that don’t contain caffeine.
2. Don’t Discredit Daily Movement If You Can’t Get In A Workout
Finding the time to get to the gym can be daunting, as can the thought of an intense workout. The good news is that you don’t need a solid hour of intense exercise to reap significant benefits.
Researchers have found that around 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity daily goes a long way toward offsetting the negative health risks of sitting most of the day. This can include things like a cleaning session or a brisk walk.
Even better news, a study from 2022 found that even just minutes of vigorous-intensity activity throughout the day (like going up a couple of flights of stairs) can have a significant impact in reducing the risk of all-cause mortality.
3. You’re Getting More Water Than You Think
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no reason to feel guilty if you can’t down eight glasses of water every day. There is actually no scientific evidence that says that’s necessary or even that more water is healthier.
Staying hydrated is no doubt important, but you don’t need to force it into your diet. Your body will tell you when it needs water. Plus, much of what we eat and drink (think coffee, tea, and even beer) contains water, which helps us remain hydrated.
Another common myth is that your pee needs to be as clear as possible. A good goal should be a pale yellow (think the color of a standard sticky note). If you find yourself going to the bathroom more during the day than you like, then it may be OK to even cut back on your water consumption.
4. Your Weekly Gossip Session With Your BFF Has Benefits
It turns out that being a blabbermouth at your weekly get-together is not so bad as long as your gossip doesn’t aim to hurt anybody. While gossip is generally considered to be a negative form of communication, one study found that it can be quite beneficial.
According to the study, it found that gossiping can help people learn from others’ experiences while also bringing them closer. Spilling tea also involves a bit of trust, which ultimately bridges a social bond and solidifies further ties.
5. Unless You’re Lactose Intolerant, Cheese Isn’t The Enemy
Dairy products, including cheese, have long been criticized for their high saturated fat and sodium content. But the tide is turning. In addition to being rich in calcium and proteins, studies suggest that cheese consumption may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Researchers have found that calcium and conjugated linoleic acid are two nutrients in cheese that can benefit the heart. Also, the saturated fatty acids in cheese may have different effects on the heart than red meat.
Cheese can certainly be part of a healthy diet, but the way you consume it is key. Similar to when you add a bunch of sweeteners to your morning cup of joe, enjoying cheese on top of garlic bread or pizza can negate the health benefits.