Forget antibacterials! Use plain soap and water to combat germs
BY MICHAEL ROIZEN AND MEHMET OZ www.doctoroz.com September 11, 2012 9:15AM
Updated: October 14, 2012 12:16PM
Q. I hear there’s bad news about an antibacterial ingredient that’s common in soap. With three kids under the age of 8, it’s a germ festival around here. I want to keep things clean. What should I do?
A. We’ve talked about this before, but now there’s new info about triclosan, one of the most potent antibacterials found in loads of household products: It can affect how your heart and other muscles contract.
The data isn’t definitive, but in the lab, it disrupts hormones and can damage reproductive systems. In the environment, it pollutes water and then transforms into something much worse, the cancer-causing agent dioxin. Like all plentiful antibiotics, it promotes antibiotic resistance, and it’s everywhere. Three-quarters of North Americans have triclosan residue in their urine; it’s even common in breast milk.
The good news? Giving up soaps, cleaning products, clothing, paint, cosmetics, hair conditioners and toothpaste with triclosan in them won’t increase your risk of infections. At home, plain soap and water kills germs on hands, kitchen surfaces and clothing just as effectively.
More good news? All the outcry about triclosan (as well as harmful formaldehyde, dioxin and phthalates) has gotten corporate attention. Johnson & Johnson will phase out those chemicals in its products by 2015. Hope that others follow!
Q. I cannot seem to shake my craving for sugar (I use five teaspoons in a cup of coffee) and, truth is, I also think I might drink too much.
† Ramp up your dopamine reward system with physical activity and meditation. Dopamine is the feel-good brain chemical that’s hijacked by addiction so that it delivers the goods when you take in ever-increasing amounts of food, drugs or alcohol. You can reset the system with physical activity that removes toxins (everything from fat cells to drugs) and offers a healthy way to feel up.
† Reduce bodywide inflammation that comes with addiction. Eliminate saturated and trans fats, added sugars and sugar syrups, any grains that are not 100 percent whole, and processed foods from your diet. Embrace fruits and vegetables.
† Build a support system (family, friends, groups programs, individual therapy, whatever works for you) to help you stay on a healthy route to a younger, happier you!
King Features Syndicate