4. Grilling Meat continued...
Solution: "Limiting your outdoor cooking, using tin foil, or microwaving the meat first is a sensible precaution," says Michael Thun, MD. He is emeritus vice president for epidemiology and surveillance research with the American Cancer Society.
Wrapping meat in foil with holes poked in it allows fat to drip off, but limits the amount of fat that hits the flames and comes back onto the meat, Thun tells WebMD. Some of the excess fat can also be eliminated by first microwaving meat and choosing cuts of meat that are leaner. There's some evidence that marinating meat may lower the amount of HCAs formed.
5. Opening Your Windows
When the weather turns nice, many of us throw open our windows to breathe in the fresh spring air. But that may be an unhealthy move, considering the combination of seasonal allergies and poor air quality of many cities throughout the U.S. According to a recent report by the American Lung Association, 60% of Americans are breathing unhealthy air. And the pollution inside our homes may be worse than outdoors. The Environmental Protection Agency lists poor indoor air quality as the fourth largest environmental threat to our country. Bacteria, molds, mildew, tobacco smoke, viruses, animal dander, house dust mites, and pollen are among the most common household pollutants.
Solution: Shut the windows and run the air conditioner. All air-conditioning systems have a filter that protects the mechanical equipment and keeps them clean of debris.
"Pollen and mold spores that have made their way indoors will be run through the air-conditioning system and taken out of the air as they go through the duct work," MacIntosh says.
But much like with the vacuum cleaner, these filters can only capture the largest particles. "The conventional filters just pick up big things, such as hair or cob webs," says MacIntosh. "Filters intended to remove the inhalable particles, which are very small, exist on the market and some are very effective."
They may also be worth the investment. A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that cleaner air might add as much as five months to a person's life.
Tierno says that air purification systems are important, particularly in a bedroom where bacteria are teeming.
6. Sitting in Front of the TV
Sitting in front of the television has become a national pastime and one of our least healthy behaviors, particularly because we often do it while snacking on food that is high in calories.
"When you're sitting there in a trance, you can really pack on some calories," says Thun. "Today, more than one-third of the U.S. population qualifies as obese and one-third qualifies as overweight. Thirteen million Americans are morbidly obese."
Excess body weight puts us at greater risk for heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and a host of other diseases, Thun says. "That poses a greater health risk than the toxic cleansers under our sinks."
Solution: Turn off the TV, put away the bag of chips, and go for a walk.