Lethbridge Herald

Right way to wash your hands

Follow six easy steps when washing in a public restroom

- This is a column from a pair of medical doctors whose tips for healthy living appear in Tuesday’s Herald. DRS. OZ & ROIZEN

This from the Department of Over-the-Top: In 2015, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., suggested restaurant­s be allowed to “opt out” of certain regulation­s, such as employees washing their hands. “I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy [of employees washing hands] as long as they post a sign that says, ‘We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom.’” Huh?

Although posting a sign that says “Employees must wash hands” is no guarantee they’ll do it, folks need reminding of the importance of clean hands — in a restaurant, hospital, gym or wherever germs can spread illness. It’s scientific­ally indisputab­le!

A study published in the Journal of Environmen­tal Health found only about six per cent of folks wash their hands effectivel­y. So, here’s a refresher course from Dr. Mike’s Cleveland Clinic (where hand-washing is monitored before any caregiver touches any patient or patient’s device) on how to wash your hands in a public restroom so you are protected from infections that can linger on public surfaces.

• Grab a paper towel and set it aside. • Wet your hands thoroughly. • Apply soap and lather up for 20 seconds on front and back of hands. • Rinse hands well. • Use the set-aside paper towel to turn off faucets.

• Dry hands thoroughly using another towel. Damp hands more likely to pick up bacteria than dry hands.

• If you use hand sanitizer, it should contain 60 per cent alcohol.

Moms-to-be: Make sure you’re getting nutrients for two

In the sitcom “I Love Lucy,” a very pregnant Lucy sends her husband Ricky out to buy whatever foods she craves. In one episode, Lucy inhales a dill pickle dipped in a papaya milkshake. In another, she chows down on pistachio ice cream topped with hot fudge and sardines. Funny, and not entirely unrealisti­c. But occasional cravings aside, it’s important for a pregnant woman to eat foods that provide the nutrients she and her fetus need for good health.

Unfortunat­ely, according to a metastudy published in Maternal & Child Nutrition, a majority of women who are hoping to conceive or are pregnant aren’t eating enough vegetables and whole grains and are taking in too much saturated fat. As a result, they’re deficient in vital nutrients such as folate, calcium and iron. Folate helps prevent neural tube defects, like spina bifida; calcium is essential for preventing high blood pressure, preeclamps­ia and preterm birth; and iron is needed for a healthy red blood cell supply, brain developmen­t and to guard against low birth weight.

The solution? Talk with your doc, get a blood test to check for essential nutrient levels, and upgrade your daily diet to eliminate all red and processed meats, added sugars and syrups and any grain that isn’t 100 per cent whole. Also, women who are or may become pregnant should take prenatal vitamins with the omega-3 DHA. Remember, a healthy pregnancy is your best assurance of a healthy baby, and you can do a lot to make sure that happens.

Put spice in your (longer) life

Variety may be the spice of life, at least folks have been claiming that since William Cowper coined the phrase in his 1785 poem “The Task.” But in 2019, science may have changed the saying by proving that spice itself is the heart of life.

Italian researcher­s have found that eating chili peppers four or more times weekly reduces your risk of dying from a heart attack by 40 per cent and from stroke by over 50 per cent! Their study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, tracked around 22,000 men for eight years, and the researcher­s say peppers convey those benefits regardless of whether you have any cardiovasc­ular risk factors or eat a healthy Mediterran­ean diet.

This follows a 2017 study published in PLOS that found Americans who eat chili peppers (not counting dried pepper flakes) reduce their risk of death over a 19-year timespan by 13 per cent!

What makes chili peppers so health-friendly when they can be so hot they seem heart-stopping? The benefits appear to be the result of the tongue-searing chemical capsaicin, which helps moderate your insulin response after eating and lowers your resting heart rate, and phytonutri­ents that help process fats, dilate blood vessels and knock out bacteria.

So, enjoy whole wheat pasta arrabiata or diavolo using pepperonci­ni (like spicy Calabrian peppers that register 15,000 to 30,000 on the Scoville scale). And don’t shy away from Asian peppers found in dishes like Szechuan Dan Dan noodles or spicy vegetarian eggplant.

Fight your diabetes risk with filtered coffee

“Two Joes” is a fan book about two of The Three Stooges, Joe Besser and Joe DeRita, who stepped into the madcap act many years after it first debuted. Besser arrived in 1955 after the death of an original Stooge, and DeRita followed Besser 15 years later.

The two Joes’ longevity echoes what researcher­s found in a study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine. The study indicated that consuming two cups of filtered Joe daily over a seven-year period slashed a person’s risk of Type 2 diabetes by 60 per cent compared with folks who drank less than a cup of filtered coffee daily! Seems coffee brewed with filter paper strains out a chemical — diterpenes — that raises levels of lousy LDL cholestero­l. Boiled, drip, French press and espresso brews don’t offer the anti-diabetes, heartfrien­dly benefit.

This finding comes after a 2013 study in Diabetolog­ia that showed folks who reduced their coffee intake by a cup or more a day over a four-year period upped their risk for Type 2 diabetes by 17 per cent.

Other health benefits of coffee, say physicians from Johns Hopkins Medicine, include a reduced risk for Parkinson’s disease, heart failure, colon cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, and healthier kidneys and liver. So enjoy two or more cups daily, if you can do it without experienci­ng a headache, gastric upset, an abnormal heartbeat or anxiety within an hour of drinking a cup. (Decaf provides some of coffee’s health boosters.) But stay clear of sugary, fatty additives that negate coffee’s benefits.

Your cellphone is dialing up health problems

Tech innovator Elon Musk launched Neuralink in 2017 to develop implantabl­e electrodes that can directly link your brain to computers’ vast knowledge base. This neural lace technology is supposed to make us one with the digital world, but if the way people are interfacin­g with their smartphone­s is any indication of how well humans handle such entangleme­nts, this bot-human hybrid could cause a lot of unforced errors.

Cellphones are involved in 1.6 million auto crashes annually, causing half a million injuries and 6,000 deaths. However, you don’t have to be driving and texting to get hurt by your phone.

According to a study in JAMA Otolaryngo­logy-Head & Neck Surgery, cellphone-related head and neck injuries have spiked since 2007’s debut of the touchscree­n smartphone. Many are among people 13 to 29 who are texting while walking. Another report found that teens are developing bone spurs on their necks from overuse!

There’s evidence that cellphone abuse is associated with sleep disturbanc­es because their blue light restricts production of melatonin, which regulates your body’s internal clock. It also increases the risk of macular degenerati­on, a leading cause of blindness. Plus, research shows cellphones dumb down many folks by making it hard to focus on important tasks.

So we’re calling on you to do these: never read or text while walking or driving; use your phone’s blue light filter; put your phone on airplane mode an hour before bed; turn off push notificati­ons and use social media only on your laptop or desk computer.

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