7 Bathroom Habits That Can Add Years To Your Life, According To Science & Experts
Most of us use the bathroom more than once a day. We have our daily routines and typically do things without thinking anything of it. But just how healthy are your bathroom habits? Because according to science and experts, making some small adjustments can potentially add years to your life.
"Just like eating and sleeping, having healthy bathroom habits can either improve or deteriorate your health," Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. Small things, like the type of shower curtain you use, how often you change your toothbrush, and how you poop can affect your health in ways you probably didn't realize.
For instance, most of us know how germ-filled your bathroom can be. "A good way to think about this is that to live longer lives we need our immune system to be in good shape," Pip Waller, medical herbalist and author of Deeply Holistic, tells Bustle. An immune system in good shape will not only keep unwanted bugs out, but will also help to "clean toxins from your system, keep cancer at bay, and reduce inflammation".
Your bathroom habits may not be something you think about on a daily basis, but being mindful of it can help you stay healthy — and even possible add years to your life. So here are some other healthy bathroom habits you should adapt, according to experts science.
1. Use Non-Slip Items Or Wipe The Floor After Every Shower
You should decorate your bathroom in any way you'd like. But experts say to make it a habit of purchasing non-slip items such as bath mats and rugs. "Using non-slip surfaces in the bathroom can add years to your life," Carol Thelen, CRNP, nurse practitioner at Mercy Medical Center, tells Bustle. "Household falls contribute to a lot of injury, hospitalization, and debility."
In fact, a 2011 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, thousands of Americans each year suffer from accidental injuries in the bathroom. About two-thirds of the injuries happen in the bathtub or shower. So be sure to remove anything in the bathroom that can easily slip. You can even make it a habit to wipe the bathroom floor with a towel after you're down showering so you or someone you live with won't accidentally slip and injure themselves.
2. Use Cloth Shower Curtains Instead Of Vinyl
If you've ever purchased a plastic shower curtain, you know how bad that smell can be. But it can even damage your health in ways your probably didn't know. "Lately there have been a range of studies — including one by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice — which report how the chemicals used in vinyl shower curtains can cause serious damage to the liver, nervous, reproductive, and respiratory systems," Karen Salmansohn, longevity researcher and best selling author of Life Is Long!: 50+ Ways to Help You Live a Little Bit Closer to Forever, tells Bustle. When your shower gets hot, vinyl shower curtains can release dangerous chemicals in the air. The solution here is easy. Swap your vinyl curtain for a cloth one.
3. Clean The Shower Head
A 2009 study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that potentially disease-causing germs can get trapped in showerheads. "If you have a habit of drinking, or letting shower water flow into your mouth, you should stop," Dr. David Greuner of NYC Surgical Associates tells Bustle. The water you're using to get clean can include the bacteria that gets built up in your showerhead. So, be sure to clean your shower head as often as you can.
4. Keep Your Phone Far Away
Taking your phone with you to the bathroom is a common bad habit Dr. Gruener says it's time to stop. "Although it's a great way to pass time, fecal matter and bacteria can latch onto your phone enabling them to travel outside of the bathroom and into other areas," he says. In fact, a 2017 study published in the Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials found that most phones contain bacteria with the potential to cause infections like staph infections. Another University of Arizona study even found that phones carry 10 times as much bacteria as toilet bowls. So for your health, do your best to keep your phone as far from the bathroom as possible.
5. Put The Lid Down After You Flush The Toilet
There's a good reason why many toilets have lids. It's meant to help keep bacteria out of your bathroom when you flush. In fact, a 2012 study found a link between flushing the toilet with the lid up and the spread of a stomach bug. "Flushing often sprays water everywhere, which you do not want anywhere but in your toilet," Backe says. "So close the lid to help ensure you keep bacteria that can make you or another person sick, down the pipes."
6. Squat While You Poop
"One bathroom habit that might be beneficial is to put a stool under your toilet," Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC tells Bustle. When your legs are rested on the stool, your knees are bent at a 90 degree angle or squatting position. According to Kimszal, this will help relax the pelvic muscles and your bowels to flow freely. "When you are squatting it is released and you feel no strain," she says. "Better bowel movements can improve digestive health."
According to Gut/Hormone Health Expert, Dr. Inna Lukyanovsky, PharmD, anyone can benefit from squatting while they poop. "I used to have a major case of Crohn's disease myself and it helps you empty out and feel better afterwards," she says. Digestive issues usually stem from inflammation. If it's a "silent inflammation," Dr. Lukyanovsky says your body will age faster, your defense mechanisms won't be the same, and it will be much easier for you to get infections.
7. Change Your Toothbrush Often
A 2016 University of Texas study found that some types of harmful bacteria in your mouth can interact with other types to grow, change, and eventually cause infections and diseases. That's why brushing your teeth often is super important. But if you want to add years to your life, don't get too attached to your toothbrush, experts say. According to Dr. Gruener, it's recommended to change your toothbrush every two to three months and immediately after being sick in order to reduce the risk of getting infections.
You probably never really think about how small things you do each day can impact your life in the long run. Luckily, these healthy bathroom habits aren't that hard to adapt.