Who would believe a thing like that? Like…seriously? Isn’t this like taking the cliche ‘an ounce of prevention is better than an ounce of care’ too far? Or perhaps the more commonly known ‘prevention is better than cure’? But guess what? It is true…so true that it is amazing the number of diseases that are spread by the very lack of this ‘common sense’ virtue, if I may pre-suppose to call it that.
A few weeks ago in May, the World Hand washing Day was celebrated and it was an opportunity to further WHO’s campaign of ‘save lives…wash your hands’. Studies have shown how the introduction of simple hygiene like just washing of hands has been able to halve the prevalence of childhood illnesses like diarrhoea and respiratory infections. This clearly means that our hygiene status plays a significant role in determining our health and even the health of others. Food for thought!
Hygiene, described as practices and activities that lead to maintenance of health and prevention of diseases, for the purposes of our discourse, is divided into four:
Personal hygiene which covers the realm of taking a bath, washing clothes, washing our hands, not transferring our germs to other people by blowing our nose appropriately etc.
Have you considered the fact that hand washing without soap actually translates to smearing the germs all over your hands and giving them a wider surface area to operate or that not washing well enough or long enough means that we’ve got live germs on our hands ready to transfer to our foods, friends we shake or even people we hug…heaven forbid if this were to be a young child with a still-developing immune system.
Do you know that the more you wear an outfit before you wash it, the more germs breed on it making it difficult to get rid of them all in one laundry cycle? Let’s even ignore the smell that other people are confronted with as a result of dried sweat on these clothes 😀 And do you know that contrary to popular belief, air drying is not better than tumble drying as air drying provides the germs a longer breeding time before they are completely dried, if at all.
You do know that you should wash your hands after handling dirty laundry because…well, because it’s dirty, right? Consider this though. The same should be done after touching wet washed laundry as, depending on how dirty they were, before laundry, they could still have germs all over their surface. Scary, right?
Remember to wash your ‘delicates’ and always damp clothing differently. Undies and towels should be washed separately from general laundry. Towels by their constant wet nature are a perfect breeding place for germs.
If you’ve got a washing machine, please use hot or warm water to wash. You’ve got a better chance of killing those germs on clothes. This same dictum applies for hand washing too.
Hygiene at home: this covers sweeping and cleaning different areas in the home (toilet, bathroom, bedroom etc)
Have you visited any of those toilets or bathrooms that have fluid and all sorts of dirty stuff o the floor? It appears in these places that because we do the ‘dirty business’ in the toilets and bathrooms, they have no business being clean. It is disgusting though to have to step around (if that were even possible) all of that liquid not knowing where they came from or indeed what they were used for. Toilets and bathrooms need to be wiped down every day and disinfected because, naturally they provide a wet environment for germs to thrive. And please try to use more pleasant smelling disinfectants that give the toilets a better ambience. Even some drops of bleach in the cleaning water is a better idea than those concentrated horrible smelling disinfectants from the 1st century! Don’t ask me which ones….I plead the 5th amendment (and yes I know I am not an American :D).
Food hygiene: this involves preparation of food for cooking, storage of food in pantries and refrigerators, food handling, prevention of cross-contamination etc.
If you bake, have you ever considered that the bowl of cake mix that you liberally lick from after scooping into cake pans is dangerous to your health? It contains raw eggs which are a rich source of salmonella. Food poisoning can result from this.
For those of you with cosmopolitan palates who love raw meat a la tartare, or raw fish a la sushi, well be careful :). Worms present in fish can survive in the intestines of man and cause an infection. It is far harder for the germs to cause lasting infection of meat as any of them on the surface is quickly killed by cooking. If meat is minced though, this becomes a bit more difficult as every ‘grain’ of meat has to be heated all the way through to kill any surface germ that may have been on the meat.
Have you ever thought about the cross contamination that happens in a lot of kitchens? Do you use different surfaces or chopping boards for your raw meat and for other foods? For most people, chicken and other meat produce are prepared in one section of the kitchen and then other food items are quickly plunked down for preparation on the same surface immediately afterwards without cleaning or indeed without using different surfaces for raw meat and other foods.
Pet Hygiene: this involves keeping our pets safe, proper disposal of their poop and also protecting us from contacting any disease that can be spread from animals to humans.
So here’s hoping this has stirred up some thoughts as to things we take for granted that affect our health and how we can do them differently so that we are healthier. Children have to be taught these things at an early stage to ensure that they grow up doing the right thing. I knew a couple once who had a quarreled over how often children’s clothes should be washed. The man argued that if they are not visibly dirty, they do not need to be washed (and what’s body odour? Everybody smells, right?!) and that clothes do not need to be ironed but can be placed under the pillows to straighten out 😀
Here’s to a healthier you.