Embarrassing Health Habits That Are Actually Good for You
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Let’s face it. We all have a few embarrassing habits — from skipping showers to smelling our armpits— that we’re mortified to be caught doing. “From an evolutionary perspective, people are ashamed to display intimate behavior or self-groom because of what it may signal to the outside world,” Joseph Pinzone, MD, an internist and endocrinologist in Santa Monica, Calif., tells Yahoo Health. “We subconsciously fear if we’re seen checking for a problem, it means we’re suffering from it.” But many of our so-called dirty quirks also advisable, and can even be good for us. Here are five habits you can continue, guilt-free.
Smelling armpits: “It’s good to be aware of changes in body odor because it can sometimes signal a medical problem,” Jeanine Downie, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Image Dermatology in Montclair, New Jersey, tells Yahoo Health. “For example, if your sweat suddenly smells briny, almost like beer, that could indicate a kidney problem.” A more common cause of changes in body odor: stress. “When you’re anxious, the adrenal glands release the hormone Cortisol, which, when mixed with hormones, produces a stronger-smelling scent,” she says. So, if you’re suddenly producing a more pungent odor, it may be time for a vacation.
Belching: Gross as it sounds, releasing a Homer Simpson-sized burp is a totally normal physiological response to ingesting too much air during meals and the act releases discomfort, helping us feel less full, says Pinzone. Belching may also aid digestion and relieve symptoms such as nausea and heartburn. It could even be a sign of a healthy diet since nutritious foods such as beans, dairy products, vegetables, and whole grains are usually the culprits.
Skipping showers: Barring an intense workout, is it really so bad to forgo a day of washing, here or there? Not really. Like the gut, our skin contains good bacteria that don’t necessarily need to be scrubbed away, Richard Gallo, MD, chief of the dermatology division at the University of California, San Diego, told the New York Times. Ditto for hair washing: Some dermatologists argue that daily lathers remove oils that protect the hair shaft and keep the scalp moisturized; others say most people’s hair simply doesn’t require daily shampoos.