Are you a man or a microbe?

We may think of ourselves as just human, but we’re really a mass of microorganisms housed in a human shell.

The human body contains about 100 trillion cells, but only about one in ten of those cells is actually…well…human. The rest are bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that populate every nook and cranny of our human body. In fact, for every human gene in our bodies there are 360 microbial genes. Together, they are referred to as our microbiome, and they play such a crucial role in our lives that scientists like Michael Blaser of New York University (Director of the Human Microbiome Project) have begun to reconsider what it means to be human.

The microbiome is the human equivalent of an environmental ecosystem. Although the bacteria together weigh a mere three pounds, their composition determines a lot about how the body functions—and sometimes malfunctions. And just like ecosystems the world over, the human microbiome is losing its diversity, to the potential detriment of the health of those it inhabits. Namely, us.

Lita Proctor of the National Institutes of Health, who is also leading the Human Microbiome Project, says, “The human we see in the mirror is made up of more microbes than human. They belong in and on our bodies; they help support our health; they help digest our food and provide many kinds of protective mechanisms for human health.”

So these microbes aren’t just along for the ride, they’re there for a reason. We have a symbiotic relationship with them—we give them a place to live and they keep us alive.

In his new book, “Missing Microbes,” Dr. Blaser links the declining variety within the microbiome to our increased susceptibility to serious, often chronic conditions, from allergies and celiac disease to Type 1 diabetes and obesity. He and others primarily blame antibiotics for the connection. “We inherit every one of our genes, but we leave the womb without a single microbe,” says Blaser. “As we pass through our mother’s birth canal, we begin to attract entire colonies of bacteria. By the time a child can crawl, an enormous, unseen cloud of microorganisms—a hundred trillion or more, has blanketed him. They are bacteria, mostly, but also viruses and fungi (including a variety of yeasts), and they come at us from all directions: other people, food, furniture, clothing, cars, buildings, trees, pets, even the air we breathe.”

It seems taking too many antibiotics—not to mention our obsession with cleanliness—may disrupt the normal microbiome. The average American child is given nearly three courses of antibiotics in the first two years of life, and eight more during the next eight years. Even a short course of antibiotics like the widely prescribed Z-pack (azithromycin, taken for five days), can result in long-term shifts in the body’s microbial environment. It’s overkill—literally. Imprudent antibiotic use has resulted in widespread resistance among microbes and doctors now operate in a state of near panic as common infections demand increasingly powerful drugs for control.

Our bodies are made of trillions of microorganisms and they’re there for a reason. It seems we’re killing germs at our own peril. What’s your take?

Giant Microbe Products

A virus spreads in just 2 hours. Why the war on germs is in your hands.

Germs are everywhere. In optimal conditions a virus can divide every 20 minutes, spreading rapidly where they dwell. In fact, contamination of a single doorknob can lead to the spread of viruses throughout an office building or hotel in as little as two hours.

Researchers from the University of Arizona, Tucson, placed a tracer virus on commonly touched objects such as a doorknob or tabletop. At multiple time intervals (from two-to-eight hours) the researchers sampled a range of surfaces including light switches, bed rails, countertops, sink tap handles, and push buttons. And guess what? Nearly 60 percent of the surfaces were contaminated within two-to-four hours.

“If we placed a tracer virus on the push plate to an office building, it ended up on almost 50 percent of the high-touch surfaces of officer workers’ hands within four hours,” says study author and microbiologist Charles Gerba, PhD. “In the case of the hotel, we placed the virus on the nightstand in one room, and it was spread to the next four rooms by the maid during cleaning.” Also, the first item to become contaminated in the workplace was the coffee pot handle. Other contamination hot spots are phones, computers, and desktops.

Of course, our own bodies play host to around 100 trillion microbes that together weigh more than two pounds. They are present on our skin, in our guts, in the crooks of our elbows, and just about everywhere else. Your immune system protects against most microorganisms, but there are hundreds of thousands of different kinds of germs, and some of them are good at mutating into things your body doesn’t recognize. And they make you sick.

To get an idea of just how many microbes we carry—and which ones spread fastest—researchers are even testing our most intimate possessions: our cell phones. In a small study, University of Oregon scientists tested the index fingers and thumbs of 17 subjects, along with the touchscreens of their smartphones. As you might expect, they found an 82 percent overlap between the most common types of bacteria found on participants’ fingers and on their phones.

So your cell phone is covered with a personal bacterium cocktail? Clean it with a soft cloth dampened with water and wipe it down, or use a disposable wipe made specifically for cleaning electronic screens. Use a cotton swab to get the dirt and grime out of small nooks in the phone. The same goes for all of your other gadgets, too, including remote controls, headphones and ear buds, your computer keyboard, mouse, and tablet screen.

Yes, the war on germs is in your hands. Handwashing is the number one way to prevent the spread of germs and illness. Just make sure you’re doing it right. Friction (especially between the fingers) and duration—20 seconds with running water—are both important. And anything your hands touch are carriers. Learn all about handwashing here.

Here’s something else to think about: On average, an office desk has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. It’s not surprising; the toilet is cleaned regularly. And remote controls, computer keyboards, phones, and iPods get touched way more than the toilet. Multiple coworkers and guest also share them—yet they are cleaned less often. You can find component-specific cleaning supplies at electronics stores. However, most disinfecting wipes are safe for electronics—just make sure to read the label before using them.

This one seems obvious, but how often do you walk around your home or office and wipe off doorknobs, cabinet handles, and light switches? You really should give them a once-over using disinfecting wipes—and don’t use the same wipe for more than a few places before grabbing a fresh one.

It’s easy to keep things clean. Soap and water. Bleach and water. Disinfecting wipes. Common sense. With these simple weapons, the battle against germs can be won. But the first step is you. Now go wash your hands!

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Hand-Washing Dance Viral Video

 

Hand washing dance Indonesia 🙂

Hand washing dance, from Indonesia

Posted by DrKnowledge on Saturday, August 19, 2017


Just in time for the back-to-school season, a group called Dr. Knowledge has released a video on Facebook about handwashing. Aimed at a younger audience, the video features five doctors dressed in scrubs in a choreographed routine demonstrating proper handwashing techniques.

The message from these doctors in Indonesia is a fresh take on educating kids on the importance of handwashing, and the video has quickly gone viral.

For more resources in helping kids learn the importance of handwashing, check out the Brevis Child Education Collection, including the Germbusters Starter Set, coloring pages, and a variety of reward stickers!   

 

Sources:

https://www.ecr.co.za/shows/east-coast-breakfast/watch-doctors-hand-washing-dance-goes-viral/

https://www.facebook.com/DrknowledgeMedicine/videos/vb.538418383006329/787546511426847/?type=2&theater=&sw_fnr_id=1380710349&fnr_t=0

https://www.brevis.com/child-education

https://www.brevis.com/products/133159/ggset001-germbusters-starter-set-the-basic-set-to?ref=/child-education

https://www.brevis.com/products/544209/gbsclr01-germbusterscoloringpages-for-k1-contains?ref=/child-education

https://www.brevis.com/products/340314/gbs2la50-germbuster-ii-stickers?ref=/child-education

Handwashing and Food Safety at the Ballpark

Late summer and early fall are great times to go to a ball game. If you’re planning a trip to the ballpark, you may want to do some research before you decide to grab a bite to eat during the game.

Taste preferences aside, the main issue seems to be food handling within sports venues. UCLA Professor and board member of the Academy of Food Law & Policy Michael Roberts says, “The real risk, it seems to me at the ballpark, is the handling of food. That’s where you’ve got handlers cooking the food, handing it out, managing refrigeration and heating.” Roberts indicates local level authorities– county inspectors, for instance– are key to ensuring quality and safety measures are followed by those handling the food.

 

Measures are in place, of course, such as the requirement in every state for foodservice workers to wash their hands after using a restroom. However, a fire-safety law requiring doors to open inward rather than outward often results in recontamination when those who have just washed their hands have to pull a door handle to exit the restroom. With more businesses moving away from disposable paper towels (which could be used to open the door), extra precautions should be taken before the workers handle food after using the restroom. One common sense move is to ensure hands are washed in the food-handling area, even if hands were recently washed in the restroom, before handling food.

 

If baseball is your thing, Sports Illustrated has created a list of 2017 MLB Ballpark Food Safety Rankings.

 

Whatever your favorite sports event happens to be, if you get food to eat at the ballpark, be sure to wash YOUR hands before you eat!

 

To help your local foodhandlers brush up on proper, effective hand washing techniques, we recommend Brevis Glitterbug products, including GlitterBug Potion Disclosing Lotion, GlitterBug Hand and Nail Scrub Brush, and the GlitterBug Handwash Instruction Manual.

 

 

Sources:

http://reason.com/archives/2017/08/19/why-handwashing-is-key-to-ballpark-food

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28221948

https://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/retailfoodprotection/foodcode/

https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/RetailFoodProtection/FoodCode/UCM374510.pdf

https://www.si.com/eats/2017/08/08/mlb-food-safety-ballpark-rankings

https://www.brevis.com/search?q=glitterbug

https://www.brevis.com/products/467162/gbpotion-glitterbug-disclosing-lotion-8ounce-pumpbottle?ref=/search

https://www.brevis.com/products/771490/gbbrush-glitterbug-hand-and-nail-scrub-brush?ref=/search

https://www.brevis.com/products/220150/gbmanual-glitterbug-handwash-instruction-manual?ref=/search

https://static.pexels.com/photos/89699/pexels-photo-89699.jpeg

Tippy Taps—a simple and economic handwashing station

Have you heard of Tippy Taps? A Tippy Tap is a simple and economic handwashing station often used in developing countries without reliable access to a piped water supply.

 

Easily constructed from everyday objects, a Tippy Tap allows for proper and effective handwashing in the most rural of areas, and doesn’t waste water.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommendations on how to construct and maintain a Tippy Tap.

 

Here’s a quick video showing one way to make and use a Tippy Tap:

 

 

For more tools to help with effective handwashing in your school, home, or workplace, visit Brevis.com.

 

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/safewater/publications_pages/tippy-tap.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/safewater/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6F9jcA8ZAi0

https://www.brevis.com/

 

 

A Pen to Help Wash Kids’ Hands

Getting kids to wash their hands effectively can be a chore. Even when soap is available, kids will often skip using it and wash with just water. Bar soap can be messy, and liquid soap can be overused and wasted.

 

One thing kids do enjoy doing is drawing on their hands.

 

Combining these two problems has equalled a solution called SoaPen.

 

When a group of Indian industrial designers from Parson’s School of Design in New York decided to find a way to get children into the habit of washing their hands, SoaPen was eventually born. Yogita Agrawal, Amanat Anand, and Shubham Issar got to work when they learned that handwashing can prevent the deaths of as many as 1.5 million children under age 5 each year. The designers’ initial response was to make sure schools had soap, but they soon learned the soap was already in the schools; the kids simply weren’t using it correctly, if at all. Observation of the students also yielded the realization that while they don’t spend time washing their hands, kids do spend time drawing on their hands.

 

SoaPen is a colored marker with ink that turns into soapy lather when mixed with water. Kids draw all over their hands with it and have fun while washing their hands effectively.

 

The invention landed the three women in this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list for healthcare and science, and also led to their winning the 2015 UNICEF Wearables for Good Challenge.

 

Agrawal explains, “The effectiveness of SoaPen in reaching out to children and making handwashing a habit has reinstated our belief that simple, thoughtful changes to even age-old conventions can make rather big impacts.”

 

Brevis also offers many creative ways for children of all ages to have fun while making sure their hands are clean. Glitterbug kits are one example—check them out at this link. For more creative ways to help kids be motivated to wash their hands, visit Brevis.com.

 

Sources:

http://www.interaksyon.com/soapen-this-soap-crayon-can-help-prevent-1-5-million-child-deaths-each-year/

https://www.forbes.com/30-under-30-asia/2017/healthcare-science/#5668e9b11722

http://www.soapen.com/

https://www.brevis.com/

#ProtektLittleHands creatively shows how little hands and hygiene can co-exist

Godrej protekt, a range of hand hygiene products in India, recently created a video that shows how children love exploring the world with their hands.
And because kids will be kids, Godrej protekt started a hashtag campaign: #ProtektLittleHands.

Watch the spot: 

 

The video shows a child singing a catchy tune, and it all comes together in an adorable and memorable short film.

Sunil Kataria, business head India & SAARC, Godrej Consumer Products Ltd., speaks of the#ProtektLittleHands initiative in this manner:

“Kids these days are inquisitive, enthusiastic and unstoppable. You can’t control them from exploring the world around them and in the process getting their hands dirty. And we know dirty hands mean lots of germs. Protekt believes that parents should encourage their kids to step out of home and explore, as it plays an important role in their development. This thought formed the base of our new campaign #ProtektLittleHands, a campaign which encourages kids to explore all those things which makes them wonder without thinking about getting dirty or worrying about germs. Godrej has always been a conscious brand that is committed to consumer’s health and over all benefit. As a thought leader in the category, we want to bring about a behavioral change and promote a healthy habit of keeping your hands clean and germ free.”

Are you wondering how YOU can keep little hands clean? Check out these GLITTERBUG KITS on brevis.com!

Clean Hands, Clean Slate

 

 

We know the benefits handwashing has when it comes to protecting us from disease. But can cleaning our hands be connected with cleaning our minds?

 

Two researchers from the University of Toronto conducted four experiments and found a connection with cleaning one’s hands and a shift in goal pursuit.

 

Ping Dong, one of the researchers, explains, “People have multiple goals to pursue in their life and sometimes some of the goals may be fruitless. But people often feel it’s hard to give up old goals and pick up new goals so maybe physical cleansing can help people shift their goal pursuits effectively.” In other words, when people have a nagging goal they feel they just can’t let go, the best way to wash their hands of the problem may just be . . . washing their hands.

 

In the study, groups of undergraduate students were primed to bring their attention to particular goals; those groups were divided into two categories, one of which used a hand wipe. Those who used the hand wipe were found to find more importance in any goals primed following the hand cleansing process, as opposed to the goals brought up before the cleansing.

 

The mental process here illustrates that physical cleansing functions in a realm of psychological separation. Simone Schnall of Cambridge University says, “It’s important in the sense that it shows that physical cleansing can serve as a ‘psychological reset button,’ as it were, that operates on a very general level.”

 

The next time you wash your hands, take note of how it changes your frame of mind, and maybe even your to-do list.

 

Sources:

https://www.thestar.com/life/2017/06/20/washing-ones-hands-could-help-shift-goal-pursuit-new-study-finds.html

https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-background-beach-blue-296282/