New Castle News

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November 14, 2013

Lori Brothers: Hands off! Not touching your food is wise

NEW CASTLE — Put down those sandwiches!

Don’t touch that pizza!

The evidence points to keeping hands off of your food if you want to avoid germs during the cold and flu season. This winter, use a fork or spoon at breakfast, lunch and dinner to handle your food, if you can.

By not touching your food or your eyes, nose and face, you may win the ticket to staying healthier this season.

Now we can stop chuckling at the guy eating his pizza with a knife and fork. Who knew he was so wise?

If your menu includes a sandwich or other finger foods, try to remember to use a napkin to hold your food. Unless you just washed your hands, there is a likelihood that you have picked up germs from surrounding surfaces or from other people.

Most germs come from touching your work desk, the kitchen sink and each other. There are approximately 1,500 germs per square centimeter on each human hand. The total number of germs depends on the size of your hands. You don’t have to become a “germaphobe,” just use good common sense.

I am always happy to see sanitary wipes in the grocery store or department stores. It is important to wipe off the handle and rails of your cart. If you don’t see the wipes, you may want to mention it to the store manager.

Hand-washing can be done in warm or cold water, as long as the water is clean, the CDC (Center For Disease Control) states. I still think warm water is better. It takes a good 20 seconds of scrubbing fronts and backs of hands, and fingernails, with soapy water to ensure hands are clean. And make sure you use a clean towel, paper towel, or air dry, otherwise, even washing could be useless if you re-contaminate during drying.

It is suggested, if soap and water are unavailable, to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean hands. While this doesn’t always kill all of the germs it’s better than doing nothing to kill the germs.

Use the habit of covering your mouth and nose with your forearm or elbow when you sneeze or cough. You can also carry tissues with you. WebMD says that germs and viruses cling to your bare hands which can pass your germs along to others. This is what makes “air kisses” and fist bumps so popular this time of year.

Eating nutrient-dense foods are also a sure way to protect yourself against invasive germs and viruses. Any foods that are naturally colorful are the clue here. Consider all fruits and veggies your combat buddies this winter.

Also, be sure to stay active during winter months. This is essential since we are all stuck inside and more sedentary due to our northeastern U.S. weather patterns. Aerobic exercises are essential to amping-up your immune system.

The process of speeding up the heart, which transfers more oxygen to your blood, and heating the body with activity, which causes you to sweat, all act as an agent to naturally kill viruses. Just be sure to wash your hands afterwards.

Always consider getting your flu shot, if you haven’t yet gotten it, just for that extra protection. Area agencies, including Jameson Work Health at the South campus, still have the vaccine available. It’s smart to boost your immune system along with practicing good hygiene.

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