Wash Your Hands!

Do you wash your hands? Aside from after doing my business, I admit, I don’t wash my hands as often as I should—dumb! A couple years ago Laura Landro of The Wall Street Journal wrote that hand washing is an important part of disease-prevention. Have a look:
The most important way to prevent the spread of colds is frequent hand washing. But experts say that following the most basic tenets of good nutrition -- consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats, and eliminating highly processed and junk foods -- can actually help ward off illness.
Okay, a reporter is one thing. What are Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on hand washing? In short, he thinks it’s a good idea, especially when it comes to warding off colds and the flu. He talks about it in this post about Avian Flu. Here’re some relevant pieces:
If this virulent form of the flu does appear in our region we are not without protection. We have control over the size of the exposure, because we can avoid hand to mouth and hand to nasal contact and we can wash our hands after touching people and birds…

…Wash your hands after you touch something that other people have touched like a doorknob or gas pump…

…If you use a public bathroom, use a paper towel to turn off the water knobs and then to open the door to leave the bathroom, to keep your hands clean.
I agree. I don’t DARE grab anything in a public bathroom with my bare hands. In fact, there should be decontamination showers setup outside most of them—EEK! Now, new research contends hand washing is more useful than drugs for virus control. Reuters reports:
Physical barriers, such as regular handwashing and wearing masks, gloves and gowns, may be more effective than drugs to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses such as influenza and SARS, a study has found.

The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, came as Britain announced it was doubling its stockpile of antiviral medicines in preparation for any future flu pandemic.

Trawling through 51 studies, the researchers found that simple, low-cost physical measures should be given higher priority in national pandemic contingency plans.

"Mounting evidence suggests that the use of vaccines and antiviral drugs will be insufficient to interrupt the spread of influenza," they wrote in the report.
I don’t know how practical a mask and gown would be, but, if you’ve ever peed on a NJ Transit train, you’d think about it.
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Kirsten - November 29, 2007 11:33 AM

And don't forget to ACTUALLY wash them, not just a quick pass under the water but for 20 seconds to really use the ionizing power of water to your advantage! :)

LLouise - November 29, 2007 1:04 PM

And use your foot to flush! :D
I agree with Kirsten about ACTUALLY washing...It's scary how many people walk out of the stalls and out the door. I'm even wary of grocery store produce. Ever seen how much the food gets touched? Wash your produce!!!!

Jayson - November 29, 2007 2:06 PM

Right on about washing with hot water for longer than 20seconds :-)

I generally try to avoid public restrooms if at all possible, and yeah, I use my foot to flush, and search out toilets that auto-flush. During the summer we went to a 3day music festival and to avoid having to use the "port a johns" we created a "waste disposal" system of our own, patent pending ! Another hidden benefit of eating plant based foods is it is easier to dispose of waste !

Magnus - November 30, 2007 4:38 AM

On the other hand, if you sterilize everything your immune system will never get any training.
I'm not proposing not watching your hands after being in the bathroom but if you turn into a sterilizing freak I think it's a bad thing.
I heard somewhere that we actually had better immune systems back in the day but the microbes we got were even worse and killed us anyway. Today, by sterilizing everything we don't get the really bad ones, but if we did we might just be less prepared.

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