Well hello there! Hope everyone had a fabulous holiday week. And some of you lucky ducks might be on vacation all of this week too, all the better to ring in the New Year. As for me, I'm finally back in Atlanta and back at work, after spending two wonderful weeks in Chicago. Although it was great to be home and to visit with my family and best friends again, the weather was absolutely brutal. Even more unfortunate, I've been hacking and sneezing up a storm the past few days. I'm sure that can be blamed on a number of things including: too much running around, a lack of real exercise, not enough sleep, the drastic change in weather (from Atlanta to Chicago) and eating too many sweets and high-fat foods. Either way, I'll be loading up on the herbal teas and cold medicine for the remainder of the week.
Along those lines, I found a fascinating ABCNews article that dissects some of the popular myths about germs and bacteria. Here are a few of the highlights:
Fact or Myth? You can get infections or illnesses from sitting directly on a public toilet seat.
"Just sort of sitting on the seat and having that contact with the skin on your butt isn't going to be a way of transmitting an infection," said Elizabeth Scott, co-director and founder of the Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community Settings at Simmons College in Boston. "I think that one's associated with the fact that we all find public toilets very disgusting," she said, adding that you were more likely to get sick from touching the toilet seat or the flush handle with your hand.
Fact or Myth? Antibacterial soap keeps your hands cleaner than regular soap.
This myth may stem from a misconception about what we do when we wash our hands. By rinsing in soap and water for at least 20 seconds, we aren't supposed to be killing bacteria, but simply getting germs and viruses off our hands.
Fact or Myth? Sponges typically don't help keep your kitchen cleaner, they just spread germs around.
Sponges pick up various contaminants when used to clean used to clean dishes or surfaces that food has touched, and those contaminants can be easily spread.
Fact or Myth? The makeup at a cosmetics counter is unsafe to use -- it harbors a multitude of germs.
Answer: Probably a Fact
The safety of using sample cosmetics from the counter may depend on how they're used, but the prospect of what could be in that makeup is enough to keep Scott away from them.
"I don't like that idea at all," she said. "There is the possibility that someone handled the cosmetic who had pathogens on their hands or a skin infection or an eye infection. That all might be transmitted by that cosmetic."
Fact or Myth? A dog's mouth is cleaner than a person's mouth.
If you heard this myth, it probably came from a dog lover as they justified why they let their pet lick their face. Hendley and Scott noted that dogs tend to lick themselves, particularly after scraping themselves, and their mouths tend to come in contact with animal feces. Scott also noted that germs can be picked up by stroking the animals, and you should wash your hands anytime you touch them.
Fact or Myth? Airplanes are a major source of contamination because of the recirculated air.
Airplanes put many different people in a confined space for several hours with the same air. Small wonder that some see planes as flying germ houses. But while germs may once have recirculated freely, new technology may have removed some of the flight concerns.
I'll be back later this week with lots of recipes and follow-up on my trip. Until then, here is a sugar-free, healthy tea recipe I'll be whipping up tonight.