Lifestyle: Hygiene and Habits

Modern improvements related hygiene practices of waste disposal, food and beverage preparation and storage, and medical practice has dramatically decreased outbreaks of many illnesses so prominent in previous generations.

Hand washing before meals or after using the restroom, regular bathing, dental hygiene, food preparation safety, avoiding excessive alcohol and drug use, tobacco use and sexual promiscuity are all hygiene and habits that seem basic and everyone should be following, right? Most of the general public understands the concept of hygiene and good habit practices through public health educational programs and mandates by governmental agencies and auditors that perform inspections to ensure proper compliance. Personal hygiene practices are still needed to reap the benefit of these advancements. Your mother is the domestic version of the government auditor. I will discuss some of the most important areas that improve health signaling.

Food born illnesses are prevalent and contribute to illness more than we lead on to. The majority of food born illnesses come from preparation of food in the home and local food establishments. The majority of time these incidences go undiagnosed and are passed of as a transient “stomach flu”. The CDC estimates approximately more than 9 million food born illness yearly in the US yearly. There are over 31 pathogens responsible for transmitting food born illnesses.

Long term health consequences related to these pathogens causing food born illness and antibiotics used to treat them cause major disruption it the gut microbiota and potentially trigger immune and inflammatory dysfunctions. Undiagnosed parasite infections can persist chronically causing an ongoing inflammatory burden and many symptoms outside of GI complaints. Testing for these pathogens using advanced stool testing methods is paramount. Pathogens can contribute as a root cause to health ailments.

Lack of proper oral hygiene can lead to persistent bacterial infections in the mouth. These infections are know to contribute to systemic conditions such as stroke, diabetes, atherosclerosis and preterm birth. The connection is an inflammatory response of the innate immune system initiated by the oral infection. There are health effects to mercury amalgams either present or inappropriately removed leaching their toxins systemically. Overall good oral hygiene can influence your current state of health.

In 2010 the CDC estimated over 19 million new reported cases of sexual transmitted infections (STIs) in the US. This costs the health care system over $17 billion annually. It is estimated that greater than 65 million people in the US have an STI.

In addition to the direct burden STIs, which can have dire health consequences and sometimes be fatal, women have reduced fertility and long term use of pharmaceuticals to limit STIs is difficult to measure. For example, Gonorrhea, a common STI, is caused by a bacterial infection once easily treated with antibiotics. Today, there are emerging resistant strains to most antibiotics. This is concerning because of the potential long term consequences of a once easily treatable STI causing bacteria. The added burden is on our detoxification pathways and destruction of good (commensal) bacteria in our gut as increasingly higher doses and more powerful antibiotics are needed. This is another battle versus the growing lifestyle epidemic.