15 Modern Conveniences That Are Bad for Your Health

no cell phone sign
Some modern conveniences like cell phones aren't so great for your health.
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock

The last one hundred years have brought dramatic changes to our ways of life. Public health measures, like water treatment and sewage disposal, have caused dramatic changes in life expectancy and the prevention of infectious disease. Many changes, from screened in porches and indoor plumbing to cell phones and the Internet, have brought much pleasure to our lives. There seems to be a trade off for many of our modern conveniences. Several of the products we use to today to make life more efficient and more convenient do not actually consider the ramifications to our health and environment. Below is a list of a few of the many topics that had some potential to be a useful tool or idea in some fashion, but actually will have negative consequences to our bodies or the environment in which we live.

This list is an introduction and a preview to future articles which will explain these topics more in-depth. PurehealthMD strives to provide the tools necessary to improve diet, exercise and lifestyle to move the body toward optimal health. Diet is critical to enable the body to reach its potential. It is also important that information about negative practices be made known so that damaging effects to our bodies and environment can be avoided and prevented.


1: The Standard American Diet

The zone diet is all about moderation.
The Standard American Diet could be responsible for the rise of obesity and diabetes.
Nicholas Eveleigh/Photodisc/Getty Images

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is by far the worst offender on the list. Our dietary practices over past several decades have strayed from what the body actually needs. Patients often ask what they should eat. Even nutritionists are often confused as to how to guide patients. This is not surprising as chronic illness, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, are on the rise. Nutrition is ultimately and simply found in fresh, preferably organic, fruits and vegetables and healthy proteins. It is not found in vending machines, convenient marts or packages that sit on grocery shelves for months at a time.


2: Amalgams

What are Amalgams?
Silver fillings release mercury.
American Dental Association

Amalgams, or silver fillings, were originally outlawed but for over 150 years they were regular practice. They are 50 percent mercury and will outgas mercury readily each day they are in the mouth. Safer filling materials are now available.


3: Teflon

waffle iron
Teflon nonstick cookware is easy to clean, but it could be carcinogenic.
©iStockphoto/Lisa McDonald

Teflon nonstick cookware makes clean up in the kitchen much more enjoyable, but Teflon comes with a price. It is considered a likely carcinogen, and it does not biodegrade. Choose other products like stainless steel or ceramic pots.


4: Microwaves

Microwaves are a daily part of meal preparation for most Americans. Reheating foods with a microwave is a great convenience. Cooking foods in a microwave for several minutes at a time may destroy nutrients in the food. When using a microwave, use it to quickly reheat food only.


5: Cell Phones

cell phones sterile 250x150
Can cell phones cause health problems?
James Woodson/Getty Images

Cell phones are a part of our lifestyle. Cell phones, cell towers and the ever increasing amount of electromagnetic frequencies will impact our health in ways which we still do not fully understand. Until we know for sure how safe, or unsafe, cell phones and the cell towers that power them are, we need to respect that they could present some health risks.


6: Styrofoam

styrofoam cup
Styrofoam cups are a great insulator for hot liquids, but they could pose health risks.
Photodisc/Getty Images

Styrofoam would make a great cup for holding a warm beverage if it were not the chemicals in the Styrofoam. There is concern the components of Styrofoam may be carcinogens. One chemical, styrene, is found in nearly all human subjects who have been tested. A better option would be to use your own coffee mug.


7: Flame Retardant Bedding

While safety is a major concern for parents, flame retardant bedding is not ideal. Flame retardant chemicals air out from the bedding, and they are very unhealthy to whoever breathes them in. These chemicals become the problem for those who they are intended to protect.


8: Leaded Fuel

Fuel pump
Fortunately, unleaded gas has replaced the dangerous leaded variety in the United States.

Leaded fuel was previously recognized as a major public health threat, and it has been removed in this country. Its use continues in many underdeveloped nations, and lead persists in the environment. Its effects are still present in children and adults, and we all pay the price.


9: Plastics

Due to consumer demand, there are now many BPA-free options for plastic water bottles.
Getty Images

Plastics supply us with many modern conveniences. They are lightweight, flexible and useful for many different shapes and devices. They may also contain several types of potential carcinogens like bisphenol A or phthalates. Plastics, such as water bottles, are filling up our landfills at exponential rates. Caution and balance of our use and manufacture of plastics in needed.


10: Growth Hormones

Animals treated with various types of growth hormones (synthetic hormones) are not the best choice for our health. Sources of animal protein are best when they come from animals raised in a natural habit and food best suited for their needs. Examples would be eggs from free-range chickens and grass-fed beef.

11: Genetically Modified Foods

Factory farm turkeys in Plainville, N.Y.
The safety of consuming genetically modified food has not been confirmed.
Michael Melford/The Image Bank/Getty Images

The safety of genetically modified foods never been confirmed in large human studies for adults, children or pregnant women. Yet many people are eating genetically modified soy or corn having no idea what the consequences will be.

12: Fat

Fat has remained a poorly understood topic after over 50 years of being a public enemy. In trying to avoid fat, patients have found themselves feeling worse and gaining weight. Many people are not taught that many vitamins and nutrients need healthy amounts of fat to be absorbed. The body has requires essential fatty acids for the heart, brain, nerves and healthy function of basically every cell in the body.

13: Margarine

Butter Baking
Believe it or not, margarine is not any healthier than real butter.

Margarine has been heralded for many years as the safe replacement for butter to better prevent heart disease. Margarine is no safer, does not help in the absorption of vitamins (which butter can) and may actually increase the risk of heart disease.

14: High-fructose Corn Syrup

high-fructose corn syrup
This saccharine syrup may be partly to blame for the rise in obesity.

High-fructose corn syrup is a potent sweetener found in a large amount of processed foods. Since it is cheaper to manufacture, it has replaced sugar as the sweetener in soft drinks, jams, jellies and even bread. Unfortunately, it is really too potent for the body and contains mercury from the manufacturing process. Many speculate that the rise in obesity and the rise in the use of high-fructose corn syrup are not a coincidental relationship.

15: Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Partially hydrogenated oils are added to foods to increase shelf life. This good intention is not consistent with good health. These oils provide fats that are very harmful to the cells of our body. Our cells will try to use these incorrect oils anyway, but the consequences are damage to the blood vessels and lack of needed oxygen to our cells.