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Myths About Germs

by Paul Ebeling


Germs are everywhere, but that is not a bad thing. We all want to keep our surroundings as clean as possible to reduce our risk of exposure to disease-carrying germs

The Big Q: Are some people taking it too far?

The Big A: “The biggest myth of all is that all germs are bad,” notes Pat Salber, M.D., a board-certified San Francisco internist. “It turns out we have an intimate relationship with bacteria. They live on our skin, in our mouths, and most importantly, they live in our gut.

“If we disturb that relationship by taking too many antibiotics, for example, there can be negative consequences, such as getting C. Diff diarrhea. Also, many scientists believe that kids who lack early exposure to bacteria and germs may increase their risk of developing allergies and asthma.”

Below are some Myths & Facts about germs, as follows:

Myth No. 1: You can catch a disease from a toilet seat. This age-old myth just will not go away.  According to Prevention, Professor Charles Gerba, at the University of Arizona, says: “The seat is often one of the cleanest things on the toilet.” You are far more likely to pick up germs from the toilet handle or the bathroom doorknob and transport them to your nose or mouth. But, if it makes you feel better, you can always use a toilet seat cover for peace of mind.

Myth No. 2: Hand dryers are more sanitary than paper towels. While hand dryers earn points for eco-friendliness, they are not as sanitary as using paper towels. A recent review of 12 studies found that paper towels are far more hygienic than dryers that simply blow bacteria all over your hands as well as the entire bathroom. A study found that hot air dryers were the least effective method of removing bacteria from washed hands.

Myth No. 3: The 5-sec rule can keep you safe. This is actually a half truth, say experts. While off-the-floor eating is far from ideal, researchers from Aston University’s School of Life and Health Sciences in Birmingham, England. They tested food dropped from three to 30 secs. When they tested for levels of E. coli and staphylococcus they found the less time the food was on the floor, the less bacteria it tended to pick up.

But surfaces made a difference. Sticky foods dropped on smooth surfaces were the germiest while dry foods dropped on carpet were the cleanest. Overall, all food dropped on the floor can pick up some bacteria in seconds so if your food falls on the floor, it’s probably best to discard it.

Myth No. 4: The sink has the most germs in a kitchen. In fact, the biggest germ-laden culprits are the refrigerator vegetable and meat compartments, followed by blender containers, can openers, and rubber spatulas, according to the National Sanitation Foundation. It turns out sponges may wipe away surface grime, but they will not clean your counters they just spread the germs around. A typical kitchen sponges can contain millions of bacteria and that is not what you want on your countertop. You are better off using paper towels. And, if you do use a sponge, run it through the dishwasher regularly or give in a quick zap in the microwave will kill most of the germs.

Myth No. 5: Using an antibacterial soap protects you from germs. There is simply no evidence that antibacterial soaps are any better than simple soap and water, when it comes to cleaning surfaces or your hands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While having clean hands is one of the simplest and best ways to protect yourself and your loved ones, antibacterial soaps do not offer any advantage, however they do contain chemicals that have been linked to environmental-health problems.

Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively

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