Tag Archives: wash your hands

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

Originally posted 2016-08-19 14:09:54.

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

Originally posted 2016-07-06 13:05:30.

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

Originally posted 2016-07-04 13:51:27.

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.

Originally posted 2015-10-22 13:57:40.

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?

Originally posted 2015-10-21 15:12:48.

Hand-held BLT disaster – Botulism, Listeria and Travellers diarrhoea

BLT in hands
It’s on your fingers, not in the filling

Scary this.

And slightly more than you might want to chew.

One of the world’s most popular sandwiches – loaded with tummy bugs.

Lunch time bad boy

Enough to take you down for a week or more – with hospital too, if dehydration sets in.

Actually, it’s not the sandwich. It’s probably you.

Because how are you eating it? With your hands, right?

Well of course, it’s a sandwich isn’t it?

Yeah, and in defence of all those thousands of sandwich-making companies (our local is the best in the universe) any bug you get is unlikely to come from them.

There’s too much to lose – happy customers, trading licences, health inspection. Have you any idea how tight the regulations are to protect you?

But you’re eating with your fingers, yes?

Straight in off the street.

Don’t touch it, you don’t know where it’s been

Not wrong, but ask yourself – when was the last time you washed your hands?

Because anything you might have touched before you grabbed that luscious BLT is now transferred to them.

And out in the street, thousands of people touch all kinds of things that you might touch too – almost a guarantee you’ll pick up whatever they’ve got.

Most times either blocked by your immune system – or in too little amounts to attack you effectively.

But wash your hands and the problem goes away.

Ordinary soap and water gets rid of 99.9% of germs – what the medics call Sterility Level 3 (count the 9s). Unless you’re unlucky, you’re probably safe.

Trouble is, we don’t wash our hands most of the time, do we? Especially out and about.

Once we’ve left home, we can go through a whole day without even thinking about it. Including after going to the loo, which so many of us somehow avoid.

Always on the go, it’s a grudge thing to do – like combing your hair or brushing your shoes. Too much PT and not enough time.

Until that innocent-looking BLT bites you back.

Yes, it’s food poisoning, but mostly transferred off your own hand. From any one of the trillions and trillions of viruses or bacteria that there are in the world. Take your pick for your own BLT.

B is for Bacon – and Botulism or B.cereus

Botulism for instance, is not very common – and not something anyone wants to catch. Because it’s not the bacteria themselves, it’s the toxins they produce that are so nasty. They attack the nervous system, not your tummy – causing paralysis that can kill you.

Much more likely on your fingers is b.cereus – yes, we ARE being serious! That’s bacillus cereus to give it its full name – also a toxin producer, but not quite so deadly. Vomiting and diarrhoea are its worst shots – usually all over in 24 hours. Leave your BLT lying around before you nosh it, and b.cereus jumps in on the bacon when it cools.

L is for Lettuce – and Listeria

Listeria is not nice either – and a real hazard for pregnant women. Because it’s not just unpleasant diarrhoea, listeriosis leads to aches, fever, loss of balance and even convulsions. Worst off all, expectant mothers could lose their babies.

T is for Tomato – and Traveller’s Diarrhoea

Traveller’s diarrhoea is the pits too, but not so threatening. Every traveller’s unwanted friend, it’s more commonly recognised as e.coli – one of the Big Four holiday bugs – e.coli, norovirus, salmonella and campylobacter.

No, you don’t want any of these. Which is why you wash your hands every chance you get.

Or if it’s too much of a drag, you carry antiseptic gel or antiseptic wipes.

For less than a quid a throw, they’re the easiest, quickest way to ensure you’re safe whatever you eat.

Not a disaster – a moment of pleasure.

Right there, at your fingertips.

Enjoy your BLT.

Originally posted 2015-10-01 14:45:40.

A big chomp of pizza – and 3.971 million germs

Pizza girl
Are you having 3.971 million germs
with that?

Yum!

Eating with your fingers.

Is anything better?

You bet.

Eating with your fingers AFTER YOU’VE WASHED THEM.

Germs for sure

Because however nice your chosen favourite is – it’s not worth the tummy cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea that visits you at 2.00 in the morning.

E. coli, norovirus – take your pick.

It could be any one of thousands bacteria or viruses on your fingers at any one time.

Collected through your morning until now…

Off the money in your purse, your Oyster card, the STOP button on the bus, the door handle of the coffee shop, the face of your mobile, the front door to your office, the lift call button, your computer on switch, the keyboard on your desk, the mail in your In-tray, your desk itself, your office phone, the photocopier start switch, the door to the loo, the tissue paper you use there, the flush handle, the bag of doughnuts for coffee break, the parcel from the printing company, the felt-tip pens for the update board, your face, your lipstick for touch-up, the conference room table, the overhead projector, the overhead slides from sales, the meeting microphone on/off, the stairway banisters, the lunch-time news-sheet, the pizza-joint window choosing while you queue in the street, the bag they put it in to take back to your desk…

Er, excuse us.

Where was “wash your hands” in all that?

Our minds go blank

Don’t look so surprised. Most of us forget, even though we’re sticklers for clean.

Yet everything we touch, every second of every day, is covered in viruses and bacteria.

We are too. Billions of them on our skin and clothing.

Billions more inside us too. Over 6 billion in our mouths, more than the number of people on Earth. More than 100 trillion in our gut – partners in helping us digest.

So when we pick up that pizza with our fingers, there’s plenty stuff for us to swallow that we’re not supposed to.

Yes, we’ve got bacteria inside us already – but the right ones, they’re supposed to be there. And most of the time, even the wrong ones are OK – our immune systems are too strong to let them take hold.

But the stuff on our fingers is dodgy. Often in quantities big enough to give us grief. And often really yucky stuff we’d rather not know about. Like if you didn’t wash your hands when you went to the loo, there could be poo on there.

Hold it!

Don’t take that bite!

Put it down and wash your hands first.

Be safe.

And don’t reckon you can blame the pizza company if you come down with something.

Those pizza oven are way too hot for germs to survive – 800°F, or even more.

And nobody touched your super-size slice. Straight off the pizza shovel, gloved hands on the cutter wheel, into the box, and bagged into your own hands.

Wash your hands and everything’s hunky. Quattro stagioni perfetto.

Forget and take a chance – you could be in hospital sooner than you think.

More than 800 people die from norovirus every year. More than 5,000 from e.coli. Add c.difficile, Delhi Belly and rotavirus – the numbers jump to over 80,000.

Don’t be one of them.

A wrong-way encounter with any of these nasties will be more than you can chew.

After you with the soap.

Originally posted 2015-09-28 16:04:42.

Holiday health hazards – it’s all in your hands

PIsa pizza girl
Lip-smacking, finger-licking, germ-spreading, whoops!

Step away from the street vendor!

Yes, it’s the most amazing croqueta de jamón in the whole world. And the same guy does the meanest shawarma ever.

But step away, NOW!

Fast food alert

No, not because the food is iffy. And not because that trolley is unhealthy. Tourism is big business, so everything gets checked with a magnifying glass. Watch out for the cops on their quad bikes, doing surprise inspections. It’s not the vendor you should be worried about.

It’s you.

Like, you’re hungry and you’re about to scoff yourself stupid. Street food on the way to the beach and a genuine all-over tan.

So when did you last wash your hands?

When you got up? Before breakfast? When you did your teeth?

And how long ago was that?

How many streets have you been down since? Did you grab the boat rail when you climbed aboard? You put suntan lotion all over that guy’s back – did you get it off your fingers?

And is that your beach bag lying on the deck? Reckon they hosed it down this morning? Before all the flip-flops and bare feet? And how about that beach you sat on?

Plus you high-fived with those Italian guys, chucked coconuts at the fair stall, hung on tight on the white-knuckle roller coaster – are you sure you’re ready for that croqueta de jamón?

Because if you come down with a bug or something, it’s not going to be the vendor’s fault.

The price of sloppy hygiene

It’s going to be yours.

And how’s he to compensate that your hygiene is so lax?

Yet chances are, while you’re groaning with tummy cramps, that you’ll blame him for your troubles.

Always dodgy in the street, you never know where anything’s been. Foreign food anyway, your system’s not used to it. You can never trust these places.

Yeah, right.

A load of bull, isn’t it?

Because you know when you washed your hands. And now something’s happened, you’re super embarrassed by it.

Like, how can you admit that you didn’t? Or that you don’t look after yourself regularly? You and the crowd that you’re with – your family, your mates? Ew!

But that’s not you, is it?

You’re on holiday, hyped up, getting out and doing stuff – you know you need to take care.

So you wash your hands every chance you can get. Like Jack Nicholson in The Bucket List, never trust a fart. Never pass up the opportunity to keep clean – because you never know what’s coming next.

Every time you go to the loo, of course. 30 euros in the turnstile, you might as well.

And excuse yourself to go to the bathroom before you eat anything. It makes space for more and you know you’re safe.

Pocket backup

Plus carry a hand gel, just to make sure. Your holiday is a whole eating experience, you don’t want to miss out.

Uh, huh. You get the picture now.

That mob at the hotel, groaning with norovirus. Going to sue the tour operator, are they? And you SAW the woman never went near the taps when she went for a sprinkle.

Clean is as clean does – and you’re ahead of the game. So when you climb on that jet to go home, it’s not you saying “never again”.

It’s a great big world out there – and you’re going to put your finger in every pie.

Go on, enjoy. Your hands are clean.

Originally posted 2015-07-16 13:36:39.

Amazing phone app warns of illness threats

Girl with mobile
A “Wash your hands” reminder even in sleep mode

Our phones just keep getting smarter.

With so many capabilities that most of us don’t even know are there.

Particularly this one, which all new phones have.

The lifesaver app

Maybe the most important one of all –because it could save your life. Actually prevent you from succumbing to that unknown dreadful illness you would never have known was there.

Seems only weeks ago that we jumped up and down, demanding that with all the super-advanced technology floating around there should be an app that stops us getting sick.

And here we are – more fool us – it’s been on our phones all the time. Like wow.

Even more incredible is that this app is active all the time. Including sleep mode, or when the battery is dead – and even when your phone is TURNED OFF.

First time experience?

If you haven’t discovered it yet, try this.

Without doing anything, hold your phone up to the light. You may have to angle it around to get the strongest reading, but it’s there.

You’ll see it’s obvious, all over the glass – a dull cloudiness, smears and finger marks.

A very useful indicator this. Subtle too, so that anyone looking over your shoulder cannot see the message. It’s discreet and avoids embarrassment. A priceless life-saving hygiene alert.

Because those marks on the glass is your phone reminding you that you need to wash your hands.

That screen is very sensitive see – well of course, it works by touch. And it makes the invisible – visible. Every contact we make with unwashed hands shows up as a mark – not necessarily of dirt, because our hands LOOK clean.

Dirt in disguise

Uh huh. Maybe that’s why we all forget to wash our hands as often as we should. Appearances are deceptive. We THINK we’re clean, but we’re not.

Because every smudge, streak, smear and stain on that phone screen is actually a germ trace – direct evidence from our fingers of the billions of invisible viruses and bacteria that surround us all the time. A visible signature of the ones we haven’t had an opportunity to wash off yet.

OK, so wipe the screen off and start again. Better still, clean your phone first – believe it or not, there’s at least 25,000 germs per square inch on there – more than in a toilet. Better wash your own hands as well, of course.

Touch the phone with clean fingers – and hey presto! Nary a sign of anything, the screen stays mirror perfect. Visible proof your hands are germ-free.

A hugely useful app, this. Because those marks also remind you of the germs lurking wherever you keep your phone – transferring to other things around it. The compact in your handbag, your purse, the make-up you carry around with you – your credit cards, pens, hairclips, scrunchies.

Oops. And that’s another hygiene hint worth, taking.

To clean out your bag and everything in it regularly – wipe them all down with a sterile wipe. Before any germs transfer back to your fingers – and of course, show up on your phone again.

Are you sure you’re safe?

Really jolts you into thinking about hygiene, hey?

Because the same applies to everywhere you put your fingers.

In your pockets, in your gloves. And all the other places you can’t sterilise that you also touch during the day. Grab handles on the bus, doorknobs, countertops, computer keyboards, your office phone.

There are germ traces on them too, but you just can’t see them. Some from you and some from other people. And what have THEY touched that might affect you? When did THEY last wash THEIR hands?

Makes you think before you bite into that doughnut with the mug of coffee at your desk, doesn’t it?

Better check first. Does your phone say it’s OK to touch the food you put in your mouth?Wash Hands Logo

And in the countdown between your coffee break and lunch, while you’re touching all those other things – documents from other people, packages from outside, the photocopier – will you remind yourself to wash your hands afterwards?

Should you set an alarm? Not to say it’s lunch time, but to remind you to wash your hands before you nosh? BEFORE you zoom out for the brie, tomato and basil baguette – which you can never seem wait to scoff because your tummy’s always growling already?

If not an alarm, check your phone anyway. After you’ve cleaned it of course.

Is it safe?

Are the germs gone? No germ traces? MIrror smooth?

With a brilliant app like this, you don’t want to come down with something when it’s so easy not to.

Originally posted 2015-07-06 12:09:51.

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.