Category Archives: Health

Pass me that fuzzy bread, please!

The colorful mold you see on the surface of food is just the tip of what is going on inside.

Let me set this up for you:

You wake up to a few mold spots on the underside of your only loaf of bread this morning, but you still have sandwiches to make for lunches and toast for the kid who now only eats toast for breakfast.

It’s just a few spots so do you cut them off and make due or toss the loaf and deal with the crying from said kid and complaints about missing peanut butter and jelly in the lunch boxes? You could slice that bottom off, right? I mean, those spots are just on the surface…

Well, health experts agree: Stear clear.

If you haven’t already studied the picture, go do that. If that’s not enough to keep you from ever picking mold off bread and eating it, then stay tuned.   Continue reading

What does stress do to the immune system?

Do you find yourself with a cold or major health issue after a stressful event? I most certainly do.

I’m constantly full of anxiety trying to do everything, and it’s not just all of the lists, and kids, and home maintenance, and work, and writing these articles (which I love doing); it’s a personality trait, and it’s quite common.

All of these little things in our lives add up and cause us STRESS.

So, what’s stress?

We can define it as a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in our lives.

When you feel stressed your body releases chemicals in response to stress hormones circulating through the body. Sometimes these hormones can be useful, however often they are very hard on the body and can leave you susceptible to infection.

When is stress useful?

You’ve most likely heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response–a survival alarm system dated way back to the beginning of human life. This response occurs in the face of real danger and causes the hypothalamus to stimulate the adrenal glands to start pumping adrenaline. This gives your body the energy to either fight or flee from a dangerous situation. We still use this response today in the face of say, encountering a bear on a hike or a mugger on the street.

Stress chemicals may also be useful before a big event when you may need a burst of energy or alertness to improve performance. This might be beneficial during a job interview or before a big test.

But, chronic stress is often harmful.  Continue reading

Hand washing: Just do it.

I’m the “wash your hands” mom, and that’s because it’s so engrained in me due to working a labs.

However, we also spray alcohol on EVERYTHING, including our hands in leu of hand sanitizer. The alcohol leaves our hands chapped, but the soap in the lab is expensive due to being highly-antimicrobial. It seems a better, more efficient, and cheaper  option to douse ourselves with isopropanol just as you would a hand sanitizer. But, is it really better? Is it worth spending the extra grant money on expensive soap? I reviewed this journal article (billed the most comprehensive study of it’s kind) and I have the answer. (Article information can be found at the bottom.)

Health care workers typically wash their hands with soap for around ten seconds before laying their hands on the next patient. And while you learned in grade school that you need a full thirty seconds of scrubbing with soap and hot water to be (mostly) germ-free, this ten second wash might just be as effective.

In the study the team used 62 volunteers with 14 different hygiene products and tested them with several different kinds of viruses and bacteria.

What did they find? Continue reading