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May 2018

Hidden hygiene hacks: how doctors stay healthy

Written by Nicole Horne
Cleanliness and Hygiene

I have always wondered how doctors manage to stay healthy - especially during flu season - and whilst treating so many ill patients!

I have been visiting the same doctor since I was a toddler (so you can say that I have visited him over the decades), and honestly there was never a time that he was not present in his office. This always baffles me. So much so that I decided to do some research into the health and hygiene hacks commonly prescribed by doctors. This way I can dodge the common flu bug and also keep my general health in check.

Below are the most common tips from doctors: you would be surprised how a few simple habits can keep you healthy!

1. Wash your hands 

No surprises here! As we already know, the easiest way for germs to spread is through cross contamination. If you do not have access to running water, make sure you have hand sanitiser on hand.

2. Sanitise objects with which you come into regular contact

Tying in with the previous point, just think of all the surfaces you come into contact with on a daily basis, and the amount of traffic these surfaces receive. For example, the office printer is used daily, but is it ever disinfected? How about the door handles, your keyboard or smartphone?

Read about the 7 Bacteria hot spots we bet you didn’t know about


3. Get your annual flu vaccination

Getting a seasonal flu vaccination allows your body to build up antibodies and protect against flu viruses. The Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has found that in previous flu seasons when the match between the flu vaccine and circulating strains of flu virus is close, a flu shot is 40 - 60% effective in reducing the risk of contracting influenza. The CDC recommends anyone 6 months or older be vaccinated annually (unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from doing so).

4. Adopt a healthy lifestyle

Be sure to eat a balanced diet by incorporating a wide range of food into your diet, and especially incorporate fresh greens into your daily meals.  

Joel Fuhrman, M.D., author of Super Immunity, says "The best foods you can eat to fuel your immune response are green vegetables — they're loaded with antioxidants that keep free radicals in your body under control. A refrigerator stocked with lettuce, kale, and broccoli is my secret weapon during flu season."

In conjunction with a healthy diet, be sure to get sufficient sleep and manage stress by exercising regularly and practice meditation, breathing exercises or yoga (or some sort of relaxation techniques that works for you).

People who have stronger immune systems that contract flu recover from flu, and have less severe flu symptoms.

5. Prevention is better than cure

In conjunction with adopting a healthier lifestyle, it is important to take a daily multivitamin to boost your immune system against daily stressors. Probiotics especially are important in ensuring a healthy gut. According to A. Rinehart, a certified nutrition specialist, your gut is “the barrier between the outside world and your body’s inside world”. This barrier contains good bacteria that prevents pathogens from being absorbed. Many studies also point to the effectiveness of probiotics in preventing respiratory illnesses such as the common cold.

If you do, however, experience the first flu-like symptoms, be sure to take action immediately. Travis Stork, M.D., emergency medicine physician at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville and cohost of The Doctors says: "When I get a scratchy throat, I gargle with warm salt water and eat more fruits and veggies; my body needs extra vitamins and nutrients to fight off a cold. I keep exercising, but I don't overdo it, and I get plenty of rest. I also rinse my nasal passages with saline mist when I feel stuffy, once in the morning and once before bed. It's like washing away the cold virus."

6. Get some fresh air 

According to S.W Mueller, director of Infection Prevention and Control at Medstar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, the reason people tend to get sick in colder weather is because they share more indoor air. Mueller recommends opening doors or windows to ensure a fresh air flow, as well as investing in an air purifier solution.

7. Stay hydrated

Because our body consists of more than 70% water, we need water to flush toxins and waste products from the body, and also to transfer amino acids and nutrients to our cells. It is said that even 2% dehydration can lead to energy levels decreasing by 20%! Be sure to drink your eight glasses of water per day to maintain optimum hydration levels.

These hygiene hacks are simple tips to live by, and when implemented daily they form part of our healthy habits. I for one am definitely going to start implementing all of these tips and save myself from a trip to the doctors’ this winter!

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Nicole Horne

Nicole Horne

Nicole is a Digital Marketing Executive at Rentokil Initial Hygiene in Johannesburg. A self-proclaimed germaphobe, her love for hygienic environments and curiosity of all things “beneath the surface” fuels her enthusiasm for writing about the impact of germs in the workplace. She is passionate about creating awareness and sharing her knowledge on the impact of good hygiene practices. Follow Nicole on Twitter and LinkedIn for updates on the the good, the bad and the germy.

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