Tag Archives: wash your hands

Not enough dirt as a kid? Time for a poo transplant!

Holding tummy
Get rid of the bad stuff and replace it with good

The more we look at our own bodies, the more amazing they get.

We might have sophisticated modern technology in our hospitals – able to diagnose and treat with the most intricate procedures.

But a good healthy baby can pretty well survive without any of them.

Do it all solo

Born into a world of just earth, wind and fire – and a mother’s caring love – it thrives exactly like cavemen’s offspring, millions of years ago.

What! No bath every day in body temperature water? No constantly-changed, irritation-free nappy? No sterilised bottles? No disinfected surroundings? No Calpol!

None of that while growing up either. Like farm kids today. Out in the open, doing stuff and enjoying life. Getting dirty, breaking bones, having a ball. All the the things that Elf & Safety would never allow if they were at school with city kids.

Result? Almost never ill. Tummies like cast-iron. Stiffened resistance to colds and flu. No allergies of any kind. Good, healthy, stop-at-nothing adults.

Nothing like any of us city-types, hey? Sick as a dog at the first sign of cold weather. Sensitive to all kinds of change in food. Slightest sign of any bug going round and we catch it – in bed for weeks, hospital, saline drips, the works.

Hygiene hypothesis

Medics call it the hygiene hypothesis – the notion that growing up dirty teaches the immune system resistance – how to recognise dangerous germs and defend against them.

Because us city slickers have none of that. We grow up in surroundings clean and pure, so our bodies never face any challenges. Even though each one of us has this hyper-tuned defensive immune system, just ready to take on any evil pathogens.

We’re not just us, you see. We’re actually in partnership with a whole load of germs that live in our bodies – 100 trillion of them at rough count, around ten times the number of our own body cells.

Which means one heck of a lot of getting to know who’s who that the immune system has to learn, growing up. Who’s good, who’s bad, who can help if things go pear-shaped. Who’s on our side.

Kind of important to get that balance right. Bad germs live in us just as much as good ones, held in balance so everything stays OK.

Keeping the balance

But every so often something skews that balance. Stress at work or in a relationship – worry, anxiety, obsession, longing. Next thing acid tummy, nerves shot to pieces, mind going dilly – stress.

And here’s this hyperactive immune system just itching to jump in and help – gung ho to clobber anything, so it chooses the first thing it comes across. Which kind of explains why we’re getting such strange allergies.

Attack!

There’s no holding back those immune cells. Which might trigger a reaction to all kinds of things – milk, nuts, eggs. Or even weirder things – why?

Because they’re there – water, money, mobile phones, underwear, sex, computers, exercise, even food and drink. There is also actually a man who is allergic to Nigel Farage, the politician.

So when you say the Six O’Clock News makes you sick, you could actually be right.

It could even be worse than that. A gastrointestinal disorder that your body just can’t throw off. Clostridium difficile or c.diff is so unpleasant, you might feel you want to die. All that goo inside you is out of balance, and without help, you’ll never come right.

Which is where the poo transplant comes in. If you can’t get rid of the wrong bacteria, or fight them off – it’s time to replace yours with good healthy poo, good bacteria, that can.

The power of poo

And not just for c.diff, but for colitis or any other intestinal disorder – even for conditions that haven’t been fully diagnosed yet. Sometimes literally the difference between life and death.

Sounds outrageous doesn’t it? Except human beings have been doing it for thousands of years. The Chinese used it to treat food poisoning and severe diarrhoea – a golden soup drunk so that bad bacteria were replaced by good bacteria from someone healthy. Bedouin Arabs still use fresh camel dung to cure bacterial dysentery.

A yucky idea, but it works!

Wash your hands

But so does being meticulously clean afterwards – which is why you must never forget to wash your hands. Always after going to the loo, always before eating food – because the fastest way to come down with any illness at all is to allow it into your system.

Your fingers touch everything and germs aren’t fussy. From stuff you swallow, from touching your mouth, from touching the sensitive areas on your face – they’ll stop at nothing to get in and grab a hold. And they’ll do that, whether you ate dirt as a kid or not.

Good health, good hygiene – and may you live long and happy.

Originally posted 2015-07-02 13:49:25.

Feeling ick? Ever twigged it could be your fault?

Sick woman with medicine
Wrong again. Medicine is for afters – it’s washing hands before

Nice restaurant, was it?

Never been there before. Never had clam, chorizo & white bean stew before either.

Dangerous living, on-the-edge exotic. No wonder you’re feeling queasy. Ick de luxe – not nice.

Price of carelessness

Except, may we ask you a personal question?

OK, it was a whole evening out. You took the tube to town, had a few drinks at that stunning wine bar (they serve nuts, but it couldn’t have been them). Then a short bus ride and romantic stroll to this new Spanish place. You had a booking, they sat you down, you ordered and stuff arrived.

Perfect.

So when did you wash your hands?

Touchy, feely world

Hey, it’s a big city – 8 million people. Lots of them ride the tube too. Hell in the rush hour – strap-hanging, clutching the grab rails. Same on the buses. And every door handle in this magnificent burg – touching, grabbing all kinds of other things as well, just like you.

And most of them never washed their hands either. Out and about, doing stuff – never occurs to anyone, right? Oh, and yes – most people never wash their hands properly either, like 95% of us.

Plenty germs with 8 million people – and it only takes one.  More than half of us never wash our hands after going to the loo either.

Just a few cells should do it – maybe 20 or so. Microscopically smaller than the point of a pin. So tiny they could even fall THROUGH an unglazed plate. But that small, they’re so light that gravity has no effect, so they’re probably swirling round in the air.

No, we’re not going to suggest that you breathe them in, though you could.

They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere

Much more likely they’ll catch on your clothing or your skin – particularly your hands, because they’re always exposed and doing things. Touching doors, handbags, mobile, money, grab rails, menus, knife and fork – even food itself, ‘scuse fingers.

And your face more than anything else – which we all touch unconsciously 3,000 times a day. Especially the soft, moist tissue round the eyes, nose and mouth – the germs’ favourite way in to cause infection.

Heck, we even jam stuff in our mouths while we’re searching for something in our pockets. Keys, credit cards, plane tickets.

Unthinking, yeah? Never even remembering to ask “do you know where it’s been?”

So now it’s hours later and the cramps have started. Seriously ick. You’ve been to the loo twice and it’s all liquid. You’re shivering and your head is starting to pound. Something you ate, for sure – or so your head tells you.

Clams and chorizo, what were you thinking?

Not the chef’s fault

Except that wasn’t some greasy spoon, hole-in-the-wall place, it was a decent restaurant. Good professionals making an honest buck – not much chance the food was off. Nobody else came down with anything either, and the place was spotless.

Sure there are places with mice and cockroaches, but this wasn’t one of them – you’d know before you stepped in the door, that kind of carelessness gives itself away. And you’re fussy enough to walk out if it doesn’t feel right, so you stayed and enjoyed yourself. You know about being ick.

But unless you’re allergic to clams, your suspicions could be a little off. The likeliest cause is something transferred from your own hands – directly to the food, or from your face.

Out of sight, out of mind

Be honest, when was there a soap and water opportunity before you ate? Unless we deliberately make one, it’s not even on the radar for most of us, so don’t feel you’re the exception. It was a special moment. You took the chances we all take every single day – and this time you were unlucky.

So yes, it’s probably norovirus. But no, not from the food. From your own not-quite-so-fair hands and your own forgetfulness. Which is how most of us get ick.

Sure, not everything you touch can harm you. But just about everything DOES transfer to you. It’s on your palms and all over your fingers – too small to see and too impossible to tell whether it’s harmless or dangerous.

Which is why the hand washing thing is so vital. You can’t take a chance on good or bad, so you wash your hands to avoid the risk.

Spanish treats

Sorry you’re ick. But you enjoyed the food at the time, didn’t you? And Spanish people go crazy for fresh seafood, so you can imagine the care they take to get it right.

Let’s hope you remember next time, to avoid misadventure. If you like clams, you’ll freak for nécoras – those velvety crab done with white wine, sofrito and olive oil. Or the pulpo with olive oil, paprika and salt…

Mmm, what are you doing next weekend?

Originally posted 2015-06-10 12:49:05.

Wash your hands or die, the dawning reality

Concerned doctor
No more playing games –
hands that aren’t washed can kill you

A life and death issue.

Really?

It’s a joke, right?

Unless you’re on the receiving end.

Because you use your hands for everything, not so? You’re pretty well stuck without them.

Hands unprotected from germs

Which means they touch everything – good and bad – that is in our lives. And we do things with them almost without thinking.

Take bad. Dog poo on the carpet. Who knows what kind of germs could be lurking in there? Get rid of it, fast, before anyone winds up in hospital.

Uh, huh. Major health alert – we all know the drill:

  • wear latex gloves or hands inside a plastic bag
  • use paper towel to pick up with
  • use second bag to bin it
  • get more paper towel or cloth to clean carpet (plus bleach or detergent)
  • discard everything as waste
  • wash your hands thoroughly afterwards

Zero priority

Now take good. A double-header cone from the ice cream van – with flake and hundreds and thousands.

Probably straight grab and eat, right? Down the hatch before the van even leaves the street. Quite safe after the dog poo was washed off.

Slurp, slobber, enjoy – that was good.

OK, but how about the rest of the day?

Work, shopping, lunch, playing with the kids – easy stuff, no need to wash hands.

Simples.

Hang on a minute, how about before lunch? Don’t you wash your hands first?

The loo calls

And surely there must be a pee break or two- especially at the office, awash in coffee to keep you hyped up and on the ball?

Because most people don’t, you know – wash their hands before eating. Or wash their hands after going to the loo. And the rest of us are just a flicker under the tap – five seconds, gone.

Wash your hands? Sorry, I meant too.

Yet the dog poo was a whole major mission – so why does it get more attention than our own?

Fact is, however you finagle it, it is impossible – repeat, IMPOSSIBLE – to go to the loo without getting stuff on your hands. (Tweet this)

Worse, every flush creates a micro-spray of water mixed with yuck – too fine to see, but able to spread twenty feet or more. Spray and wee, spray and poo, nothing nice for anyone.

It gets worse

Plus of course, it’s not just your poo you have to worry about.

That posh-looking person in the three-piece suit just came back from Asia. Luckily no norovirus on the plane, but there were typhoid cases in the departure city.

Typhoid in the poo mist, highly contagious. A serious bacterial infection.

And if you don’t wash your hands, you could just be unlucky. Screaming high temperature, diarrhoea like you can’t believe, and yes, your bowel can actually split open.

Two weeks on antibiotics minimum. You could die if it’s bad – or find you’re no longer playing with a full deck. Worse than death if that’s possible. And all from not washing hands.

Far fetched? Panic stirring?

Have you checked how the medical people are getting worried about antibiotic resistance? Antimicrobial resistance (the other name for it) is No 1 on the radar for everybody from the government. on down. It’s when antibiotics DON’T WORK ANY MORE.

That means back to the Dark Ages – even the Prime Minister says so. You get an infection, you’re on your own because the medicines can no longer control it.

Which means it’s not norovirus – the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease, or campylobacter (the raw chicken chucker-upper), or any of the usual suspects we have to worry about.

The real killers

Rediscover Hygiene logoIt’s the long-haul killers from way back – the heavyweight diseases that antibiotics were designed to eliminate: smallpox, measles, Spanish flu, bubonic plague, AIDS, typhus.

Catch any of those without medicine that works – and you’re a goner.

But all preventable – or very much a reduced risk – if you always wash your hands.

We shouldn’t have to remind ourselves, but we do – our lives are so rush-rush, do-it-now, that hand hygiene is always forgotten.

So yes, a life and death issue – and it only takes one lapse to trigger it.

Don’t let it be too late before it dawns on us.

Originally posted 2015-06-01 12:27:42.

Deceptive appearances – “clean” can be infectious

Woman with magnifier
Just because it’s clean doesn’t mean it’s germ-free

You can’t see germs, they’re too unbelievably small.

You can tell when they’re around though – the smell of something “off” or the discolouration of growths like mould.

And of course, the swelling round a cut, or the queasiness in your tummy.

Hungry to eat – you

They’re hard at work, doing the only thing they know how – eat. And it’s when they eat you, that you start feeling sick.

So the thing is, to stop them before they get the chance – a constant war against them, even though they’re invisible.

Uh huh.

But we’re surrounded by billions and billions of germs, all the time – mostly bacteria. They’re even inside our bodies, living in harmony – doing useful work, like help us digest food.

There’s still billions more, some good, some bad – tuberculosis for example is a very unpleasant experience. There’s viruses too – also not so good for us – unable to function properly without a warm human body. And all too ready to bring us down.

It’s because of germs that we have to keep cleaning things – not just that they’re yucky. They’re dangerous and infectious. (Tweet this)

We see the dirt, we rub or scrape it off, rinse away any residue – and assume that’s good enough.

Germs never give up

Except that germs are much more pernicious than that. And when you get down to microbial levels, what you think might be a smooth surface isn’t smooth at all. It’s like a rocky mountain range, with plenty of rocks and crags to hang onto.

That countertop you’ve just wiped down might LOOK clean, but could still be infested.

OK, we’re aware of that, which is why we use germ-killing cleaners like bleach. Oxidising action destroys the germs, so we’re safe.

In theory.

But like we said, germs are pernicious – and persistent.

Scrub, scrub

Was the bleach solution strong enough? Was it there long enough to kill everything? And didn’t you have to wipe it off afterwards, so remaining bleach couldn’t contaminate anything?

Chances are, only half the germs got clobbered – and anything else you wiped could have picked them up too – that wiping cloth is a double-edged sword.

Right, so it’s rub-scrub-wipe, rub-scrub-wipe all over the place – work surfaces, furniture tops, floors – and hopefully it’s safe. It certainly looks sparkling – a few hours well spent.

Well yes, but germs don’t just sit on flat surfaces, they’re everywhere else too – the walls, cupboard doors, the ceiling, behind things, underneath, and in every nook and cranny.

Oh yes, and the air of course – it’s 80% of the room space. Floating, swirling, drifting, hovering – so small and light they may never fall to the floor. Billions and billions of them, ready to catch on your skin or clothing, or for you to breathe them in.

Aargh! What can you do?

The Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease

For a start, wash your hands. You use them for everything and most germs spread on contact. So if they’re on your hands, they can transfer to everything you touch. Infectious, infectious!

Wash Hands Logo
Your personal everyday defence against germs

Like the soft tissue round your eyes, nose and mouth – because, would you believe, most of us touch our faces 2,000 – 3,000 times a day!

Want to know how nasties like norovirus get to you most of the time? From germs on your hands in contact with all kinds of things – other people, common objects, or believe it or not, from the loo. Your hands are infectious.

Which why, in this blog, we refer to it as the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.

So what about the rest of the job, all those nooks and crannies? And how in the world can you scrub the air?

Total room steriliser

The easy answer is with a Hypersteriliser.

You’ve done the main work and got rid of the dirt and gunge. Now comes the follow-up to do everything else – and to destroy ALL germs completely.

Press the button and the Hypersteriliser generates an ultra-fine mist of hydrogen peroxide – quickly filling the place like the bathroom when you’re having a shower.

It’s no ordinary mist either. This stuff is ionised, with highly charged electrons all trying to escape each other, pushing in all directions to get away. This forces them everywhere – up, out, underneath and behind, deep into cracks and crevices – as far away from each other as they can get.

The same charge attracts them actively to fixed or floating cells of viruses and bacteria. They grab hold like a magnet, shoving atoms of oxygen at them – ripping their whole cell structure apart.

No germ survives this oxidising action. They are dead and gone – the whole place is sterile.

And the hydrogen peroxide? Without its charge any more, it reverts to oxygen and water – and an ultra thin, infinitesimally wafer-like layer of silver – used as a germ-killing booster and left behind as a protective antibiotic coating.

Yes, everything looks clean – and now the germ threshold is zero. No bugs anywhere, except the ones you might bring in with you.

And they’re no problem either – you HAVE washed your hands, haven’t you?

Originally posted 2015-05-22 12:23:43.

How much more self-inflicted sickness can you take?

Girl with gun to head
We bring it on ourselves,
but we CAN wash our hands of it

Vomit, run to the loo, tummy cramps.

Loo again, more cramps, heave-ho de luxe.

Recognise it? Your old friend is back.

Enough to make you puke

Norovirus, food poisoning, gastro – whatever the medics are calling it this week.

You have our sympathies, it’s never very nice.

We’re not that sorry though – chances are highly likely you brought it on yourself.

What! How dare we be so heartless?

No, we don’t buy that you ate something and it disagreed with you. More likely we suspicion it was the bug you swallowed with it when you chowed it down.

Transferred off your hand, onto your food, then straight down your gullet.

That’s right, YOU caused it – and you probably never even knew.

Your fingerprints all over it

Because, before that meal, when was the last time you washed your hands?

No, it’s not an accusation.

Blame it on the high-powered lifestyles we’re all expected to lead – stampeding us through our day with hardly time to breathe – even grabbing lunch on the run.

And there’s the cause, right there.

Sure, you had heartburn because you ate so fast. But the upchucks and the runs? Unmistakeably Norovirus the Nasty – highly contagious and transmitted by touch, usually from your hand.

Which is why we call it the Don’t-Wash-Hands Disease.

What’s the bet you had no chance to wash your hands right through morning and into lunch – or even afterwards, with urgent meetings racked up, one after the other?

Wash Hands Logo
We’ve got to re-learn new habits
if we’re going to stay alive

So the germs hit your stomach and had time to kick out. Now you’re feeling like death and want to crawl under a rock.

Totally preventable of course – all you had to do was wash your hands. See what we mean by self-inflicted?

And yes, it did come from your hands.

Check the evidence

Because it’s another most uncomfortable fact that our hygiene habits are almost non-existent.

Yucky fact No 1, 95% of us don’t wash our hands properly after going to the loo.

Yucky fact No 2, 62% of men and 40% of women don’t even bother.

Which means after going for a dump, then galloping to work on the train – holding the same grab-handles as other people who had a dump – then the grime on the escalator handrails, or the taxi door handle – straight into handling the day’s mail from the postie who also had a dump – then a few hours at the keyboard with burger grease and mayonnaise traces and finally scoffing the coronation chicken … you get where this is going.

And though a lot of us do, you can hardly blame it on the shop that made your sarnie.

If you don’t wash your hands more often than you do, you are the cause of your own anguish.

Deadly consequences

And with the way germs are becoming more resistant to antibiotics and other medicines, it’s becoming a case of learn new habits or die.

Die?

Never knew washing your hands could be a life and death issue?

Norovirus kills 80 a year. Salmonella about the same. In fact foodborne diseases take out around 500 people a year.

Sure, it’s possible to clobber germs in the places we live and work so they can’t get to us.

Effective defence

There’s a thing called a Hypersteriliser which destroys all viruses and bacteria by releasing an ultra-fine mist of ionised hydrogen peroxide – germs are ripped apart by oxidising – and minutes later the place is sterile.

Because it’s ionised, the stuff reaches everywhere, attracted by electrostatic charge.

It doesn’t touch what’s on your hands though. Or anything you might bring in on your clothes. And if you’ve already got a cold –or norovirus, which is almost as common – you’re going to have to live with it.

Keep you hands clean though, and you can protect yourself from catching anything new.

No more self-inflicted misery – and a lot happier life.

Originally posted 2015-05-21 16:42:16.

0ur obesity train-smash: why are we in denial?

Shocked mother
Better believe it – childhood obesity starts at the doctor’s

Denial, misunderstanding, rejection – we’re certainly in something.

Because why are we messing around with advertising bans and sugar tax when the real cause of our childhood obesity epidemic is staring us in the face?

Medics know it, government knows it, everybody in just about every kind of authority knows it.

It’s not junk food and sugary drinks that’s doing this – though they don’t exactly help.

The real truth is, our kids get fat from being dosed with the most effective and successful growth stimulant  on Earth.

Antibiotics.

The ultimate inconvenient truth

Government certainly knows this, which is maybe why this week’s much trumpeted Obesity Strategy launch is the non-event that it is. Somewhere the penny’s dropped that even the harshest regulatory action will achieve nothing.

Recognition is in the Special Review by Jim O’Neill, Chairman of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. This worthy initiative is of course targeted towards fighting superbugs and the increasing failure of antibiotics to protect us like the miracles they used to be.

And buried on Page 8 is the assessment that 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics worldwide are are pumped into agriculture each year.

Why?

Like we said, antibiotics are the most effective and successful growth stimulant  on Earth. Which is how come world food production has been able to rocket from supporting the 2½ billion people we were 50 years ago, to the 7½ billion we are now – all off the same amount of land.

Yeah, and of course, this is all supposed to be regulated because agriculture represents the biggest opportunity for superbugs to develop antibiotic resistance. When you reproduce like bacteria do every twenty minutes or less – and there’s 240,000 tonnes coming at you every year – you get plenty of chance to practice!

Which means strictly speaking, antibiotics in agriculture are only supposed to be used for animals that are sick. Except when you see how overcrowded and on top of each other they are in modern factory farms, they’re ALL going to get sick without medicine.

So in they go. Antibiotics, shovel, shovel – rammed into livestock by every serious high-volume food producer round the world. Extended through the manure these animals produce into every plant crop under cultivation. Even folded back to them through the feedstuff they eat, so their daily dose is a triple whammy.

We all OD and don’t know it

Result – every single one of us gets a low dose of antibiotics every time we eat something, because antibiotics now saturate the entire food chain. You get ’em even if you’re vegetarian.

Every meal, every mouthful – another hit from the most effective and successful growth stimulant  on Earth. And the gurus are still pondering why two-thirds of our adult population are either overweight or obese!

As Lord McColl observed in an address to the House of Lords on obesity, not one of these health experts has yet climbed onto a treadmill or gymnasium bicycle to prove that exercise does actually burn off weight  – otherwise they’d know it doesn’t.

Fact: we’re fat because we consume too many calories, period.

And we do that because our bodies no longer tell us to stop eating when we’ve had enough.

Plus like the poor cows being fattened up for market, our bodies assimilate more nutrients than we’re meant to. We’re extracting more energy out of the same amount of food – so we get fat even if we diet to eat less.

Not a nice future for our kids, hey?

Worse for kids

Except hang on, they’ve got their own train-smash to look forward to. Their own calamity introduction to antibiotics.

Because chances are high they’ll have to visit the Doc for some childhood illness or other – and chances are equally high they’ll be prescribed antibiotics. Worried Doc, concerned Mums – almost inevitable really. Which means it’s likely by the time they’re two, that they’ll have been exposed to antibiotics an average of 2.3 times.

Uh huh. So here’s their starter for 10.

In clobbering the illness, the antibiotics will also accelerate the ghrelin hormone that activates hunger, suppress the leptin hormone which turns it off, and stimulate the gut bacteria into absorbing more food value, extracting double or triple from the same amount of intake.

Reality check, folks. Eating less and exercising more is not going to fix it. Doctors already recognise that children given antibiotics by the time they’re two are likely to be obese by five.

And this is before they’ve had their first burger, their first pizza, their first Coke – or their first deep-fried Mars bar.

Reality check two, we weren’t fat either, fifty years ago – but they still had Coke back then, and McDonalds – sort of. Our own home-grown version, still with us today, was Wimpy.

Watch it!

Which means better look out, Jamie Oliver. Your new son could become obese, even though you supervise his food intake like a hawk. Makes your sugar tax  look a bit wonky now, doesn’t it?

The doom-and-gloom gurus had better watch out too.

Yeah, deaths from antibiotics resistance are going to climb – but they’re not much more than we lose in road deaths anyway.

But deaths from obesity – our first prize dividend from 50 years of antibiotics overuse and abuse –  they’re going to be astronomic. An epic epidemic not seen since the influenza pandemic of 1918, which killed 25 million people in six months.

Because obesity is just the start of a slow motion decline into much worse. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, asthma – and all kinds of others caused by slow failure of the body. Slow, extremely unpleasant – maybe even leading to amputation of one or more limbs.

Yeah, thanks antibiotics. You’ve saved hundreds, but you’re killing millions. It’s time to dump you before we’re all dead.

No antibiotics?

Time to tighten up on hygiene. Push cleanliness and germ prevention higher than they’ve ever been before.

Because now there’s no safety net.

Post-antibiotic fail-safe

Forget to wash your hands? The escherichia coli you pick up could rot your body and kill you.

Clean hands anyway? The norovirus on your desk could lead to fatal dehydration and that’s the end of you.

Which means soap and water for all of us – as often as we  can think of it. And eliminating germs wherever we can around us – regular mist-ups with hydrogen peroxide that oxidise all viruses and bacteria to nothing.

There is a plus though.

And yeah, it’s denial. Of antibiotics.

No more antibiotics and we’ll no longer keep getting fat. No more false hopes, no more diets, no more gastric bands, no more mindless exercise.

No, no, no.

Do you hear us Westminster? Do you hear us Public Health England?

Get this right and our kids are going to be the best-looking human beings ever.

And the healthiest.

Picture Copyright: kobyakov / 123RF Stock Photo

All your worries, gone, safely down the plughole

Woman pleased with herself
No probs with disease or illness – you know your hands are clean

Down the plughole and clean away.

All your troubles, fears and niggles – you can wash your hands of the lot.

Because now you can relax, knowing you’re healthy and safe.  Time to enjoy getting on with your life.

Yeah, your health.

Without that, the whole world goes pear-shaped.

You can’t do your job, you can’t enjoy your food, everything is difficult and relationships go haywire.

Totally not nice when you can’t be yourself.

Your world, destroyed

And so easily taken away – by illness or accident.

Sure, nothing’s going to stop you from your next big achievement – you are determined, you’re going for it, you’re totally in the groove.

Then, boom – you get hit by a bus. Or you pick up an infection, out of the blue.

Nothing slows you down like concussion and a punctured lung. Or a screaming high temperature and the worst headache you’ve ever had – meningitis is not to be played with.

Either way, you’re out of action. Whatever was on your mind before now has no significance. Like it or not, the world gets put on hold until you recover. Only one issue faces you – the state of your health.

Which is where the plughole comes in. More significant in your life than you could ever imagine.

Bye-bye germs

Because it’s down the plughole that germs go, when you wash them away. And if you’re ill from injury or infection, washing them away becomes a life-saving event. Warm water and suds going down, glug, glug, glug.

Because they take 99.9% of all the germs on your hands with it – escherichia coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, MRSA, colds, flu, norovirus – the usual suspects around you every day.

Don’t think you have germs on your hands? Hey, with a life-threatening condition like you already have, the last thing you want is to add secondary infection. Sure there’s germs on there, they’re just too small to be seen.

Want a reality check?

So somebody feels sorry for you and brings you a box of chocolates. Expensive gift selection, but whoops, they got left in the car for a couple of hours – and this is the first day all year the temperature has gone over a mild 22⁰. Closer to 35⁰ in the parking lot.

The chocolate test

As you find out when the cellophane comes off.

Chocolate everywhere, right? Even with you doing everything you can to avoid it. Across ALL your fingers, not just the picky-grabby ones. On the backs of your hands too, and on the box, over the sheets and the bedside table, with more tacky paw-marks all over things you don’t even remember touching.

That’s what germs are like. They get everywhere. And they don’t wipe off. They’re there until you get serious and head for the bathroom.

They don’t rinse off either – you have to do it properly. Actually get the soap out and lather up. That separates the stuff chemically from your fingers – kinda like making the water super-wet, so it does its job better.

The same thing happens to germs, tiny though they are. The soap makes them detach easier, so there they sit, milling around in the basin with everything else. Pull the plug and they’re gone – bye-bye infection risk.

Almost.

Paper towels better

You still have to dry your hands, so there’s several million other germs clinging to your skin until you do.

Which is why paper towels are so good. The wiping action scrapes the germs off and then you chuck them away – safely into the bin, if you didn’t get them with the plughole. Much better than cloth, which stays moist after use – exactly what germs like to breed and multiply further.

It doesn’t take a bus or meningitis to wake you up to this truth either.

Whatever we’re doing, most of us are waltzing around with up to 10 million germs on each hand anyway.

Add the fact that we also touch our faces all the time too – like 2,000 – 3,000 times a day – and germs get a good old go, invading us through the soft tissue of our eyes and mouth.

Always at risk

Count on it, unless you make a serious habit out of washing your hands every time after you’ve been to the loo, or before you eat food – you’re risking exposure to just about every illness on earth. Only your body’s own immune system saves you – which it probably does, thousands of times a day.

Far better to send germs down the plughole. You’ve got things to do and a life to live. Who wants EXTRA worries about how well you are on top of everything else?

Besides, when you’re fit and healthy, worries get easier to handle, don’t they? A major mission with a busted rib, but a breeze when you’re whole again.

So, the plughole is ready. Better get the soap out.

Like we said, troubles, fears and niggles – you can wash your hands of the lot.

Picture Copyright: nilswey / 123RF Stock Photo

Remember not to die, wash your hands

OMG Girl
It’s only soap and water – and it doesn’t hurt a bit

It’s an OMG moment – when you remember not to die.

So easy to forget with everything happening around you. Things to do, people to see – busy, busy, busy – no time for anything

But nobody wants to die, right?

Which is why you wash your hands.

Life habit that kills when you forget

Not because you ought to. Not because you’re nagged to. Not from any pressure of any kind.

Simply because you don’t want to die, and washing your hands can fix it.

Easy peasy, soap and water – you get to live another day.

Not really a game, is it? Or do we all like dicing with death?

Because we all know WHY we wash our hands, don’t we? We all know about germs. We all know about illness. And we’re not so stupid to expose ourselves needlessly to something that will kill us.

Or are we?

So easy, so simple, so how come we NEARLY ALL OF US forget to do it? To wash our hands and take away the risk?

Even doctors – who know the score and how critical it is to saving lives – even they forget to remember, right there in the hospital.

So what hope is there for the rest of us? At the rate we’re going, we’ll all be dead tomorrow.

Suicide or murder?

Yeah, goodbye. It was nice knowing you.

Or are we going to wise up and do something about it?

Because it’s not just ourselves we might kill with our forgetfulness – not just suicide.

The germs on our hands might transfer to other people – or to things other people might touch.  So they might die too.

And then it’s murder.

Murder for forgetting to use soap and water?

You bet.

As we all know, ANY illness can snowball into something worse.

Yet every day we take chances – lucking onto ourselves and others around us such nasties as the common cold, influenza, pneumonia, hepatitis A, gastroenteritis, stomach bugs like salmonella, campylobacter and norovirus, contagious illnesses and MRSA.

What the hell’s wrong with us?

If we get unlucky we could even wind up with brain worms  – already more common than any of us would like to think.

So what do we need? A tattoo on our wrists, like on cigarette packs?

NOT WASHING YOUR HANDS KILLS.

Our own worst enemy

Yeah, yeah – so why aren’t we dead already?

Because it’s not the soap and water that protects us from germs. It’s our skin, with its acid mantle – a natural barrier that most bacteria and viruses cannot get through.

They can’t get through – and they don’t always die either. So they just hang around, waiting for a break. Like when they’re rubbed into soft tissue around the eyes or mouth.

Not good. Because most of us have the instinctive habit of touching our faces 2,000 – 3,000 times a day.

Uncomfortable reality, huh?

Because it means most of the ailments and illnesses we come down with are self-inflicted. We touch ourselves all the time with unwashed hands, it’s inevitable we become infected. And it’s just luck of the draw we aren’t dead yet.

A paper cut at the office might be just that, a sore finger for a couple of days that then goes away. Or it might develop into sepsis, an infection where the immune system goes into meltdown and the body attacks itself. Get unlucky and you could be dead in days. And don’t kid yourself it can’t happen. Sepsis kills 44,000 a year in the UK, a really unpleasant way to die.

So what’s the problem?

Killer forgetfulness

Is our forgetfulness a death wish?

Or do we forget that dying is something that happens to all of us – so avoiding soap and water is some kind of denial?

Washing our hands won’t kill us. But not washing them might.

A sobering thought next time you’re in your favourite restaurant. How much of a risk will you take? Sure most of the time, you get away with it.

But don’t forget, that could be you on the floor, writhing in agony. And just your luck that the ambulance gets stuck in traffic.

Food poisoning, poppycock! With our shocking hand hygiene, most stomach illnesses can only be self-inflicted – we bring them on ourselves. One finger pointing, three fingers pointing back.

Remember that, next time the cramps get you and you feel like you’re going to die. And remember that one day you will.

Just hope it’s not from silly bugger forgetfulness about soap and water.

Picture Copyright: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo

The antibiotic price-tag – wash your hands, or land up in hospital

Rush to AandE
Better believe it, unwashed hands can kill you

Old wives’ tale. Rubbish. A little dirt never hurt anyone.

Your parents probably think that. And certainly their parents did.

Life was different back then. No mobiles. Only two stations on the telly. Central heating only for the rich. No 4x4s to take you to school.

Not like the old days

Yeah – and your parents’ parents’ parents had no hot water, no bathroom, only an outside loo. You did your business on the long drop in the freezing cold.

Washing your hands was a mission back then. Put the kettle on, fill the basin – just to wash your hands? Wipe them off with a damp cloth, stop wasting gas. Nobody ever got ill from it.

Yeah, right. They just died a lot earlier.

But you’ve got to admit, they were pretty hardy.

Their metabolisms were different is why. But not like they were Martians or we are aliens. Their bodies were exposed to wider environments – more outdoors, hands on, getting down and dirty. They grew up with it, their bacteria growing accustomed to it, it was the norm.

Are we aliens?

Wait a minute. Their BACTERIA?

Sure, sure. In those days they never knew it, but all human bodies are full of bacteria, whole colonies growing on our skin, in our mouths – and most especially, in our gut. More than 100 trillion of them, outnumbering our own human cells 10 to 1. A human microbiota that is more microbial than human – perhaps we ARE aliens after all.

OK, so these bacteria don’t just sit there. The body outsources all kinds of functions to them – digesting food and breaking out its nutrients, powering our immune systems, providing the muscle for tissue repair.

Yeah, there’s bad guys in there too – harmful pathogens that could bring us down. Small in numbers though, and smart enough to keep quiet. One false move and the good guys will either fight them or eat them.

Note that word smart.

Adapt and survive

Exactly what bacteria are. Because these remarkable creations are able to adapt and change to new conditions faster than anything else on the planet. Twenty minutes can breed a whole new generation – with new strengths, new skills, generating advanced enzymes to meet the new challenges.

Dirt in the system? They grew up with it, recognised it, know how to deal with it. Food not properly washed or cooked? No problem – they came from a long line of heroes with cast-iron stomachs.

Yeah, they knew upsets, what gut problems were really like. Where do you think names like Montezuma’s Revenge, traveller’s dysentery, Delhi belly, or back door sprint came from? They just manned up and ignored it, the stuff of Empire-building. “No guts, no glory” was how they lived.

Our own stomachs are more sensitive – not just from different lifestyles, the food we eat is no longer the same. Take norovirus – until 1968, it didn’t exist. Named after an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis at a school in Norwalk, Ohio,  it’s now every cruise ship operator’s nightmare.

The double-edged sword

Didn’t they eat the same food back then, same as 100 years earlier? Wasn’t beef, beef – and pork, pork? We’re not SO different.

Yeah, but what about antibiotics? Our food is NOT the same.

In 1928, Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, but it took till 1942 to develop it, the first patient being treated for streptococcal septicaemia. By 1950, antibiotics were motoring big time – not in medicine, but in agriculture. To bulk up animals for market – beef, lamb, pork, chicken – all the popular meat types.

Today, half the antibiotics in use world-wide are in food production – 63,151 tons in 2010, to rise by 67% in 2030.

Half a century of industrial-scale usage means that traces of antibiotics are now in all of us – directly from the food we eat, and from the recycled waste. Even vegetarians will find them in their systems.

Use and abuse

It gets worse. Because antibiotics have been overused in medicine too. The miracle cure-all, patients clamour for it for everything from minor ailments up. By the time they’re 20, the average teenager might have been prescribed with antibiotics at least 10 times.

And have you any idea what antibiotics do to the human system?

Sure, they clobber harmful bugs – if they haven’t already become resistant (we’re coming to that).

And how do they do this?

By killing bacteria.

Er… But that means us, doesn’t it? Aren’t we 90% bacteria?

Boomitsdabomb!

Yes we are. So you can imagine the effect of antibiotics in the gut with over 100 trillion bacteria all round – like a thermo-nuclear bomb.

OK, so they take out the bad guys – clobber them to nothing. But a lot of innocent bacteria get hit too. Dead or impaired, no longer able to fulfil their vital roles. Collateral damage.

Want proof?

Ever been on antibiotics and you’ve had side effects?

Stomach cramps? Vomiting? Diarrhoea? Hello, clostridium difficile.

And that’s just for starters.

Oh sure, the immediate side effects are not too bad – the medics’ perspective of course, probably not yours.

But every treatment tears into your bacteria community a little more. The bounce-back is a little less each time. A little less, a little less – you and your children and your children’s children. Fifty years of antibiotic onslaught and our microbiota are not anywhere near the same.

All change

The balance has shifted – all of a sardine we face uphill we’ve never faced before, even a generation ago. Our bacteria is different, different breeds with different behaviour, our immune systems are different, our bodies are different.

Some blame it on diet, on lifestyle, on health and fitness levels – but messing with our bacterial balance is probably more the root cause than any other.

Where does our body balance start? As we’re starting to discover, in our gut. And we’re more sensitive than we were. After fifty years of bombardment, absolutely on a hair trigger.

Why suddenly obesity – a major chunk of the population overweight? Where from Type 2 diabetes, like it’s becoming an epidemic? We’ve messed around with our bacteria – and now we’re paying the price.

But bacteria adapt remember? They change to meet all challenges. Which is why they’re becoming resistant, mutating to cope with this continual onslaught.

Clostridium difficile? Staphylococcus aureus? They’re both impervious to antibiotics without getting clever – and you can bet they’ll find a way to get round being clever too, before too long.

Back to basics – soap and water

All of which comes back to washing your hands, believe it or not.

We’re not the same as we were – our systems are different, our defences are different and our resilience is different. We can’t take chances with random bacteria like our grandparents used to – see how quickly norovirus or something strikes as soon as our hygiene gets forgetful.

And what? If you get sick, you want to take antibiotics for it?

Whoops.

Already the docs are aware so many antibiotics don’t work. And the underlying damage has been done too. So if you do get ill, there ain’t no medicine for it, you’ve just got to take your chances.

Which means don’t get ill in the first place. None of us can afford to.

But there’s still one thing we can do – and it works.

Wash your hands.

Germs, germs, all over the place – why aren’t we ill?

Not feeling well
You can’t escape germs –
but you can get rid of them

Woh, scary headlines.

Enough to make you ill by themselves.

AVERAGE WORKER COMES INTO CONTACT WITH MORE THAN 10 MILLION DISEASE-CAUSING BACTERIA

SMARTPHONES AND TABLETS HARBOUR MORE GERMS THAN TOILET SEATS 

AVERAGE PERSON CARRIES OVER 10 MILLION BACTERIA ON THEIR HANDS

Seems wherever we turn, we’re swamped by germs.

On everything we touch. On everything we eat. Even inside us – like the 100 trillion bacteria living in our gut.

OK, so because there’s germs everywhere, we’re told to wash our hands. Doing it properly with plain soap and water, rinsed and towelled off gets rid of 99.9% of germs – good.

Except then we go and touch something – the infested screen on our smartphone or whatever – and the germs come back again. Why do we bother? And why aren’t they carting us off in an ambulance, right now?

Miracle immune system

Basically, because our bodies are the amazing thing they are.

What’s the bet, until the media started with all the Wash Your Hands hoo-hah, you never thought about it much, did you? You didn’t have a problem, life was pretty normal – and the idea that your desk might have more germs than a sewer never occurred to you.

Which is why, like so many of the rest of us, washing your hands keeps slipping off the radar. Your hands LOOK clean, you don’t get sick – where’s the fire?

Uh huh. But you ARE playing with matches.

The only thing between the everyday you and being rushed to A&E is your truly miraculous immune system.

Yes, the germs on your desk DO get on your hands. They ARE transferred to your mouth (the average person touches their face 3 to 5 times every minute).  And they DO wind up in your gut.

So where’s the norovirus? The e.coli? The staphylococcus aureus? The campylobacter? Or something really deadly, like multiple sclerosis, AIDS, or cancer?

Protective bacteria

Well, among the many astounding things that they do, this where the 100 trillion bacteria in your gut come in. Aside from digesting food types we can’t do on our own, feeding our brain, and protecting us from food poisoning – they boost our immune function by outcompeting harmful pathogens.

Which comes back to the washing your hands thing.

Yes, you do swallow some bugs when you eat, that’s inevitable. But not as many as you might if you didn’t wash your hands.

So when it comes to outcompeting the bad guys down in your stomach, the odds are better than they were.

That yummy burger was zero germs when it left the grill – too hot for any to survive. Picked up a mess of e.coli though – from the print button on the photocopier. Down the hatch without you knowing – potential tummy explosion, right there.

Except your own gut bacteria ganged up against it. Gave it the treatment – like a jewel thief in some long-ago legendary bazaar. Problem sorted – and you never felt a thing.

Always under threat

Thing is though, the body is always at risk. And always on alert for surprise attacks.

Most of the time you’re OK because your immune system knows your environment. The expected germs are compensated for and everything stays normal.

Normal, that is, for you.

Except you’re not always alone, are you? There’s other people at work, at school, in the shops – or sitting at the restaurant table beside you. And what’s normal for you is not necessarily normal for them.

They might give you a bug, you might give them one. An out-of-the-ordinary pathogen your gut bacteria is not ready for. Behaves different, too big, too small, too armour-plated against the usual enzymes they produce.

Plus, chances are likely you have an underlying condition of some kind. Most of us do. Some weakness your body hasn’t been concerned with until now. An infection as a child that left one of your kidneys weak. Slight asthma from the damp conditions in your workplace. An allergy to nuts or eggs that triggers anaphylactic shock.

And now there IS a problem. Your gut is in imbalance. You should’ve washed your hands, but who does going out to a restaurant? And you got unlucky, using the salad servers at the buffet. An unusual germ for you, transferred from your fingers to the breadstick.

Again, it shouldn’t be a problem – not if your immune system is fully up and working – if your gut bacteria are fully prepared for everything that’s coming.

Antibiotic problems

Trouble is, there’s a hiccup – and it’s caused by antibiotics.

Nothing to do with you mind, you know zip about it. But, like a lot of us, you enjoy a high proportion of meat and dairy in your diet. And out in cattle farms, antibiotics are used on an industrial scale – not to make animals healthy, but to fatten them up faster.

You like milk shakes, so your own gut bacteria have been hit by antibiotics. Built up over time from your tea, coffee, breakfast cereal – and steady progression from vanilla, to chocolate, to banana, to caramel flavours.

Result? Well, you might not have a fungal infection yet – a common antibiotic side effect – but you are out of balance and your system is down. Shoulda, woulda, coulda washed your hands, shouldn’t you? Your only protection, this time round.

It CAN be easier, though not everywhere is doing it yet.

But count on it, as winter crowds us more together – and as more and more antibiotics are given out for colds, flu and all kinds of things that we strongarm our doctors for but shouldn’t – non-medical germ control is going to be on the up.

Press-button germ rescue

Right now, in your workplace, your kid’s school, public places – even trains, planes and buses – it’s possible to mist up everywhere with super-fine hydrogen peroxide spray, and oxidise ALL germs to oblivion. And that means everywhere, in the air, on surfaces – even into cracks and crevices where ordinary scrub cleaning never reaches.

The machine that does it is a Hypersteriliser – looks like a kind of electronic wheelie-bin – and all it takes is around forty minutes, depending on room size. All germs gone, completely. Kind of reassuring when you read those headlines back again.

Your desk infested with nasties and all that stuff. Overnight, gone. Totally sterile, for you and your colleagues too.

What germs, where?