Dr. Oz's All-Star Advice
If I touch a doorknob, read a newspaper or open mail, I wash [my hands] immediately. My hands are very chapped from washing them constantly. Is my fear of germs justified or am I overreacting?
Dr. Oz: Let's separate fact from fiction. You've got tens of billions of bacteria in your colon. That's far more than the number of cells you have in your body. In fact, we are alive today because we have bacteria that help us digest the food that we eat. That's actually how we absorb the nutrients.
Germs are good. There are not a lot of germs you want to get rid of. The flu virus is a good example of one you don't want to have, so we wash our hands for that because it can reduce the number of flu virus particles on our hands, but it doesn't get rid of all of them. What hurts us is when we wash our hands so much that we start getting those cracks, because we have a natural protective border on our body. That border is there for a reason, and when you abrade the skin—by overwashing it, by using sanitizer too much and by doing other things inside your intestinal tract—you can cause all kinds of problems.
The main way you bring bugs in are the bags you carry. How many of you do this? You bring the purse home. It's been all over the world—on the floor, in dirty places, city streets—and you put it on the counter that you eat off of. Or makeup bags—they're real petri dishes. You get moist stuff from your eyes, your mouth, your nose in there, and you store them up. And you have plenty of things that you carry around in your life that you carry. So, I am going to give you a list of things that I want you to be careful of.
Garbage disposals you know about. You also want to be careful about the car dashboard, phones...anything that has nooks and crannies on it is problematic. Computer keyboards are in the same group. Shopping cart seats actually are often contaminated because kids have been in there, and they've been in places you don't want to have been [in].
Next: What bacteria lurks in your purse and wallet?
Published on January 03, 2011