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CORONAVIRUS HEALTH, Public Health

DON’T GET HURT TRYING TO STAY SAFE: Eating Safely during the Pandemic

 

 

 

Joie Meissner, ND

LifeChangeMedicine.com  5/6/2020

Some weeks ago, a family physician practicing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, put out this YouTube video.

How does what Dr. VanWingen said in the video compare to what others say about food & COVID and is it consistent with this naturopath’s understanding of general health?  Below I give you my thoughts and offer some possible options for you to consider.

VanWingen likened dealing with COVID-contaminated groceries to preparing to operate on a patient using sterile technique. One option is to leave your groceries in your garage or porch for at least 72 hours to allow the virus to become inactive.

The recommendation is consistent with an oft-cited laboratory study by van Doremalen and colleagues sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that studied how long potentially infectious virus particles called fomites and aerosols of the virus live on surfaces or in the air. Based on this NIH study as well as animal studies on the minimum infective dose of the virus and related viruses SARS and MERS, VanWingen’s recommendation make sense as long as those items do not require refrigeration.

This is the study that forms the basis of the recommendations of numerous sources including the Harvard School of Public Health.

The NIH study looked into viability of fomites. Fomites are the virus on objects like door knobs, counter tops, money including coins and paper money; any surface that someone infected with the virus has touched or has for example sneezed on has fomites on it. The study researchers also looked at the viability of aerosolized virus as well.

The researchers checked how much of the virus “survived” over time on various surfaces. (I say survived but viruses are not really alive so what I mean is how long the virus is able to cause infection. Many viruses hanging out outside of a person or animal can cause infection for a while but over time, they tend to become non-viable in an exponential fashion, meaning that they lose their ability to infect someone and make them sick.)

On copper there were no viable (infective) virus particles after only 4 hours.

On cardboard it took 24 hours before there were no viable virus particles remaining.

On stainless steel and plastic though the virus did not fall to zero viable virus particles during the 7-day NIH study, the researchers found the virus levels dropped greatly. For stainless steel it took 48 hours and for plastic it took 72 hours for the levels of viable virus to fall. Because the minimum dose needed to cause infection (MID) with the virus that causes COVID-19 is unknown, we can’t say with 100% certainty that any low level won’t cause disease.

But animal data gives important guidance. The amount of viable virus that the NIH researchers found on both stainless steel and plastic is orders of magnitude lower than the amount needed to cause infection in animals. And based on the understanding of virologists, it is broadly assumed that the virus levels were below the dose needed to cause infection with COVID-19. But the NIH study is only one study, so more studies would be needed to confirm these results.

Thus, based on DHS report on the animal studies regarding the lowest of the minimum infectious dose in animals (MID), the reported drop in the quantity of viable virus after 3 days on plastic and stainless steel provides good support for VanWingen’s recommendations on leaving shelf stable groceries in a place where they won’t be touched for at least 72 hours.

What to Do If You Can’t Store Your Food Items

For items you can’t or don’t want to store, VanWingen suggests using the “sterile technique.” Sterile technique involves how you wash your hands and how you remove/put on gloves and PPE (donning and doffing) and how a surgeon opens sterile instruments to prevent contamination with pathogens like the Covid-19 virus.

If you recall from his video, VanWingen’s method involves setting up a cleaning station to avoid contaminating your food or other surfaces in your house. (this is sort of like setting up a sterile field like when you do surgery.) The key idea is not to contaminate your food with fomites from the packaging that surrounds it.

I would add that if you do contaminate surfaces you can decontaminate them with soap and water or other relatively less toxic disinfectants like peroxide or alcohol- you don’t need to use highly toxic disinfectants like Lysol. A, study on the Persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces and their inactivation with biocidal agents found that solutions of only 62–71% ethanol (that’s alcohol), 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or dilute 0.1% solutions of sodium hypochlorite (a chlorine compound often used as a disinfectant or a bleaching agent) can vanquish coronaviruses within 1 minute.

AFTER TOUCHING THE BAGS OR OTHER FOOD PACKAGING, MAKE SURE YOU WASH YOUR HANDS—GLOVED OR NOT—BEFORE YOU TOUCH THE FOOD ITSELF (AS OPPOSED TO THE PACKAGING).

If possible, you can transfer the food to a clean bag or container and discard the contaminated packaging.

Some examples:

  • If you buy a box of salad mix, you can open the box and allow the salad contents to fall into a clean colander. Then wash your hands using the CDC’s “happy birthday technique” and then From the colander, you can use a pair of clean tongs or clean hands to carefully put the unwashed leaves into a plastic baggie which can then place into the fridge. (Storing wet salad mixes will make them rot quicker; wash just before eating.)
  • If you buy pasta, you can discard the cardboard box and store the pasta in a ball jar and let it hang out in a location where you won’t touch it for at least 3 days.
  • If you buy packaged mushrooms, you can toss the saran wrap/cellophane covering and keep the cardboard that wasn’t exposed during transport and grocery store checkout or in the alternative, just dump the ‘shrooms into another clean plastic bag. (Later you will wash them in a bath before using them- mushrooms should always be eaten cooked because the immune modulating benefits are higher if they get well cooked.)

PLUS, COOKING “KILLS” THE CORONAVIRUS.

WHAT ABOUT DISINFECTING THE PACKAGING?

Dr. VanWingen also talks about wiping down all packaging with a disinfectant before putting your groceries away.

The webpage for Washington State Corona Response COVID-19 clearly states:

“Don’t disinfect your groceries. Wash your fruit and vegetables as you normally would.”

The state public health experts disagree with VanWingen; they say don’t disinfect groceries.

The FDA says

“…Again, there is no evidence of food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. However, if you wish, you can wipe down product packaging and allow it to air dry, as an extra precaution.” (Emphasis added)

Unlike the state public health experts, the feds at the FDA are not in conflict with VanWingen.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

But the FDA doesn’t say with what type of “wipe” you’re wiping the packaging down.

If it is an alcohol wipe- it would evaporate and not be harmful. If it were Lysol, 409, Fantastik, Mr. Clean or something like the disinfectants used to clean surfaces in between patients, then I am sure that would be highly toxic.

And you have to ask yourself the question that if you use something toxic to clean food or food packaging, would you then be ingesting it?

To answer that question, you’d have to understand the chemical interaction of a particular packaging material with a particular household disinfectant. How likely is it that you can remove the disinfectant from the packaging so that you don’t have to have the residues on food surfaces and in your fridge as well the possibility that it can leach through the packaging and directly contaminate the food inside? Not all packaging is impermeable to chemicals that come into contact with it.

You only need to glance at this link to understand how complex such a question could become for any poor scientist trying to find an answer: link

And we already know there are health concerns about the packaging itself leaching into the food. Check out this review of Hazard Chemicals in Some Food Packaging Materials

That’s just one source – there are many sources of information on this topic. So, these concerns could motivate a person to want to find an alternative to using disinfectants on grocery packaging.

You might ask:

Why expose myself to the risk of using these harsh chemicals when they may contain solvents which can degrade the packaging itself or leach into the food?”

Well of course your answer could be

“Because I want to kill the virus- I’d rather die of toxins than die of COVID.”

To answer this question, you need to have the answers to these 2 crucial questions:

  • Crucial Question 1: Can I get COVID from food?
  • Crucial Question 2: Is there a way to avoid toxic decontamination techniques such as use of poisonous household cleaners like bleach, Lysol, 409, Mr. Clean etc. on food packaging and still be assured that you’ve inactivated any virus on your food?

Here is what the CDC says about getting COVID from surfaces:

“…It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it [fomites] and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

Here is what the CDC says about getting COVID from food:

“Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. …In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.”

My take-aways from the CDC is that they say that there is a low probability of getting COVID from anything shipped to you because the virus doesn’t remain infectious for that long. Notice though CDC doesn’t tell us if we can catch this virus from food that another shopper or that a professional shopper has recently touched.

My takeaway is that it’s not 100% impossible to get the disease from a delivery person depositing fomites on a package. But a delivery strikes me as much safer than the threat of having someone sneeze or cough near you in the grocery store, even if they’re wearing a face covering.

Given that CDC doesn’t rule out getting COVID from your groceries, you might want to know what they say about food & COVID infection. Spoiler alert: They don’t like chlorine bleach solutions for disinfecting food . . .

CDC recommendations about food and COVID:

“WARNING: Do not use this solution or other disinfecting products on food.”

[FDA may have been referring to commercially available disinfectants and/or their DIY countertop sanitizing solution with 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) unscented liquid chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water]

Also realize that bleach is toxic to bodily tissues including lung tissue, so if you have a lung condition, spraying a bleach solution on your counters every day or worse yet multiple times a day might not be the best things to keep your lungs in tip top shape.

One thing is clear from the FDA is that they frown on the use of bleach and other cleaning products on food.

 

 

But FDA’s statements left me feeling a bit unclear about using disinfectants on other grocery store purchases and on packaging as well as its food contents?

  • Are they saying not to use disinfectants or their DIY bleach solution on the packaging or only on the food inside?
  • And what about soap and water?

Given that soap is just about the most common commercially available cleaning product which is capable of disinfecting our hands, could we infer that the FDA is warning us not use soap directly on your veggies and fruits?

The FDA website goes on to say:

“Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before preparing and/or eating, including produce grown at home or bought from a grocery store or farmers’ market. Washing fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent, or commercial produce wash is not recommended.” (Emphasis added)

Thus, we can conclude that the FDA does not recommend soap and water directly on produce. But one should note this webpage was current as of 03/14/2018 and so it predates the COVID pandemic. Would they still feel the same today given we have a deadly pandemic situation?

Some experts like Elizabeth L. Andress, PhD, a professor of foods and nutrition at the University of Georgia, cites the Food and Drug AdministrationTrusted Source  as support for her recommendations against the use of soap when cleaning fruits and veggies because she asserts there’s a risk of ingestion.

So, there appears to be authoritative support for the concept that washing produce with soap is generally NOT considered healthful; Andress recommends, and I concur, that:

“If you choose to use soap and water on your fruits and vegetables, rinse them completely with clean water before storing.”

Before I touch on my specific thoughts on this washing produce during the pandemic, I want to check in with other sources about VanWingen’s disinfect your groceries recommendations.

The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) strengthens CDC’s statements regarding possibility of contracting COVID from your groceries. HSPH states:

“There is no published evidence, and we are not aware of unpublished evidence that people have developed COVID-19 illness from touching food or food packaging.”

Harvard goes on to emphasize that the primary way that folks contract COVID is via droplets emitted in a cough or sneeze, or from the mouth during speech. They state that:

“Most important, the primary method of transmitting COVID-19 is droplet spread from being close to an infected person (who may have no symptoms), thus social distancing is the most important way to reduce risk to you and others.”

They also cite the NIH study (mentioned above) which echoes Van Wingen’s let your shelf-stable groceries sit for 3-days recommendation. They also agree on scrubbing your veggies. VanWingen recommends scrubbing for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Unlike FDA, Harvard, is not adverse to a little soap and water.

HSPH gives this helpful recommendation:

“For fresh produce that will not be cooked before eating, wash thoroughly under running water. If desired, use a vegetable scrub brush and scrub the surface vigorously with a small amount of soap and water (be gentle with softer produce). This method is effective at removing pathogens on the surface. Wash the scrub brush with additional soap and water after each use.”

They caution that:

“Other popular rinses such as vinegar are not known to be effective at killing viruses.”

F.Y.I.

I would say not to merely rinse fresh fruits & veggies, but to give them a bath- soak in water. Also scrubbing is good for carrots, beets, potatoes etc.

Harvard School of Public Health does not recommend using other disinfectants on groceries but validates the efficacy of plain soap and water to disinfect your grocery packaging:

“Note that COVID-19 is an “enveloped virus,” meaning that it is covered in an oily membrane. Fortunately, plain soap is very effective at disrupting the oil on surfaces, and water is effective at removing and rinsing away the virus. …For other perishables that need to be immediately frozen or refrigerated (especially frequently touched items like milk containers) it may also be a reasonable precaution to wash the container surface with a small amount of soap and water. Be sure to wash your hands again after doing so.”

Take-away: Harvard School of Public Health validates letting self-stable food decontaminate somewhere where you won’t touch it for at least 3 days for virus inactivation & using soap and water for disinfecting food packaging. They also validate VanWingen’s scrubbing your produce recommendations.

Harvard School of Public Health also gives some really helpful recommendations for reduced risk shopping during the pandemic, take-out food, meal planning, and other food & COVID related topics. So, check out this link their article Food safety, nutrition, and wellness during COVID-19

KEY TAKE-AWAYS

  • PLAIN OLD SOAP AND WATER IS EFFECTIVE FOR REMOVING CORONA VIRUS FROM THE PACKAGING !!!!!
  • Hurray!!!!!! There is no need to use a disinfectant on packaging or the food itself because soap works.

WASHING THE PACKAGING WITH SOAP AND WATER:

Since the pandemic, I’ve been washing food items packaged in materials like plastic and glass etc. with soap and water using the “CDC’s happy birthday song twice” technique (the way that CDC tells us to wash our hands to disinfect them). I’ve been using a technique based on handwashing guidelines in order to disinfect groceries that potentially have the virus on them. And Harvard School of Public Health backs that up.

If you read this NYT’s article you will likely be convinced that plain soap and water is an effective disinfectant. To see why soap is so darn effective click this link to be convinced that soap works to inactivate viruses and other pathogens.

HOW TO NON-TOXICALLY DECONTAMINATE THE PACKAGING AROUND YOUR FOOD

Simple apply the handwashing guidelines to the to the washing of your grocery packaging, like milk cartons, yogurt containers, condiments and anything that can be washed with soap & water:

  • If you have dishwashing gloves, nitrile gloves, or other waterproof gloves you can use gloves to wash your food packaging.
    • If you have to reuse gloves or you don’t have gloves make sure to wash your gloved or ungloved hands using the CDC’s technique before washing your food items.
    • Here’s a link to effective handwashing
  • Use plain soap and water—skip the antibacterial soap.
    • Scrub, rub, or use a clean dedicated sponge to sponge off the entire surface of the food package, carton, jar, bottle, container, etc. Get into the nooks and crannies, and under the rims of the lids with a thick soapy film covering the entire surface area of the container.
    • Make sure the soap covers the entire surface area of the package, bottle, jar etc. for at least 20 seconds— that’s the time it takes you to hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
    • Rinse off the food container, then dry with a clean towel.
    • You can even place it inside a produce baggy before placing items in your fridge if that gives you peace of mind that you won’t contaminate anything in the fridge but this is probably over the top.

WASHING THE PRODUCE WITH SOAP AND WATER:

While these sources vet the efficacy of soap and water to protect us from any COVID that could have found its way onto our food packaging, I have explained that there’s some disagreement among experts about the safety of using soap directly on our produce.  FDA and Dr. Andress say not to and Harvard is less reticent on soaping up your veggies. If there wasn’t a pandemic I would not really consider using soap on my produce.

We’re in a potentially lethal pandemic and some folks might not feel 100% comfortable eating uncooked veggies that may have come in contact with the coronavirus without doing something more than running them under water to get the visible dirt off. After all, people pick the veggies in the field, a store employee sets them in a bin, and shoppers sort through them etc. So, if you are one of these folks who wants to wash your veggies, here are my recommendations regarding washing your produce with soap and water.

First to the amount of soap to use on produce:

Use a tiny amount of soap to wash your fruits and veggies.

Next to the type of soap to use on produce:

Avoid using antibacterial soap; many antibacterial chemicals make no difference to virus viability and generate antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria even when used only on hands or dishes.

Use only natural soaps with fewer ingredients that rinse off really well and don’t contain dyes, antibacterial chemicals or ingredients like these:

  • Formaldehyde
  • DEA (diethanolamine)
  • MEA (monoethanolamine)
  • TEA (triethanolamine)
  • Phosphates
  • Triclosan
  • SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate)/SLES (sodium laureth sulfate)
  • Chlorine
  • Ammonia
  • Fragrance

Here is where it is really important to read labels (on soap) because you don’t want to be eating any of these toxic chemicals in with your healthy veggies.

Here’s a list of ingredients for Dr. B’s unscented soap: Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Organic Palm Kernel Oil*, Organic Olive Oil*, Mentha Arvensis, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Mentha Piperita, Citric Acid, Tocopherol.

*Certified Fair Trade Ingredients  **None remains after saponifying oils into soap & glycerin.

The list of ingredients in Dr. Bronner’s castile soap sounds a whole lot safer to me than what is in your typical grocery store soaps for example, soaps that contain some of those nasty chemicals in the first list. Remember, you only need a small amount of soap to do the job.

Next to the produce itself:

You can choose to wash all your produce or to only wash the produce with some sort of a skin. Check this out—I’ve washed apples, citrus, bananas in soap and water and neither I nor my partner has ever tasted any soapy residue. But, I’m not that into using soap on produce. So, I have only washed fruits with decent skins with soap. For example, I wouldn’t wash strawberries with soap because they don’t really have anything in the way of a protective skin like a waxy apple, cucumber, or a lemon or banana does. If you choose to wash your skinless berries, I’d use an even smaller amount of soap and like Dr. Andress recommends, I’d rinse them and other fruits and veggies extremely well.

Next to the produce washing technique:

Because plants can wick in toxins and pathogens when heated, I do not use warm water  when I wash any produce regardless of whether I’m using any soap or not, I use cool water to wash fruits and veggies so that pathogens remain on the surface to get disinfected by the soap and then rinsed away by the water. If you choose to use soap, use is sparingly; a thin coating will do.

Even after they have been stored away in fridge or on counter past the 3-days virus viability period for plastic, I strongly recommend giving all plants a bath and rinsing the “bath water” 3 times before eating the them, especially if they won’t be cooked. In preparing fruits and veggies, many chefs recommend this step. But wait to give them a bath until you want to eat them. Storing them wet in plastic baggies can lead to rotting leafy greens.

Technique take-aways: Give the produce a bath- that’s true for all veggies even pre-COVID. Use cool water so that the produce does not wick in toxins or virions.

Soap Alternatives:

Also remember city water is chlorinated – there is already some “bleach” in tap water. It is not necessarily the 0.1% sodium hypochlorite bleaching agent that kills coronaviruses within 1 minute but there’s real chlorine in the water itself. So maybe that gives you some comfort if using soap on all your fruits & veggies gives you pause. So, if you don’t want to risk eating soap, and you want to eat a raw salad, you can let the veggies decontaminate in the fridge for 3 days (but no longer than 9 days) and then give them a bath in tap water. For example, let’s say I buy apples and strawberries. I can wash the apples with soap and eat the apples after I wash them but let the strawberries chill in the fridge for a while (at least 3 days before I bath them and then eat them).

Before munching on your produce, you could:

  • Label the dates on the bags of produce to know how long those berries have been in the fridge.
  • Bathe those berries in a tap water bath and rinse 3 times- you can even soak them for 5 minutes in cool tap water, the water with the chlorine in it.

A word about the plastic bags you use to get the produce from the store to your house:

If you use VanWingen’s “sterile technique” method, you will already have discarded the plastic baggies you used to collect your veggies in the store. Those plastic bags are going to remain potentially contaminated for at least 3 days and once you shove them in the fridge and the could contaminate surfaces in the fridge. If you use the quasi “sterile technique” VanWingen talks about in his videos you would drop the veggies on a plate in your kitchen and then drop them into new clean or fully decontaminated plastic produce bags before shoving them into your fridge.

However, if you just toss the veggies into the bag without removing the bad parts, you could end up with rotted produce by the time you want to eat it.

 

A word about avoiding rotting produce when storing fruits & veggies for a longer time in fridge:

BEFORE YOU TOSS YOUR PRODUCE INTO THE CLEAN BAGGIES, PICK OUT ANY BAD LEAVES- BROWN OR YELLOW LEAVES OR ROTTING MATERIAL SO THAT THESE ROTTING PARTS DON’T CAUSE THE NICE, NON-ROTTING PARTS, TO TURN TO ROT. DO THAT EVERYTIME YOU EAT SOME OF THE VEGGIE AND BEFORE STORING IT.

When I get veggies from the CSA, the grocery store or farmer’s market I put them on a plate. Nowadays, because I cook so much, to save my hands, I wear kitchen gloves to pick out all the bad leaves before I drop them into the clean, non-contaminated plastic baggies. Then I wash my hands, wipe down the counters and wash the “dirty” plate in hot soapy water.

Another tip for avoiding rot is to put any fruit, especially stone fruits like apples and pears into a large glass jar before putting it in the fridge with the rest of your precious veggies. This will cut down the ethylene, the gas that fruits emit that causes produce to ripen but also to rot.

For enhanced freshness you can store herbs “planted” in glass jars placed inside baggies:

  • I pick out the bad (yellow or rotting) leaves from parsley, cilantro, and basil
  • put the herb into little glass containers
  • bag the herb in its little glass jar up in a plastic baggie with a twisty tie
  • And store it in the fridge door.

Does the 3 days to decontaminate apply to cool stuff like frozen food stored in your fridge or freezer?

It caught my attention that VanWingen gave us a special caution about frozen foods. He notes that viruses can survive frozen for up to 2 years in the deep freeze. So, in the case of frozen foods, one might wonder about washing the packaging for frozen foods like ice cream and frozen meats. The one lab study that was done on the viability of the virus, (the NIH study) that many sources rely on when they make recommendations about protecting yourself from fomites; the NIH study was done at conditions like room temperatures— not like temperatures found in your freezer. That means that all the popular guidelines about letting things decontaminate in for 3 days are based on warmer temperatures and not frozen items that you put directly into your freezer.

From a chemical perspective, we know coldness preserves things because it slows down the speed of chemical reactions. Theoretically then, we would want to wait longer than 3 days to decontaminate items stored in a freezer. If you’re using VanWingen’s information, the waiting time would be excessive taking more than a year for the items to decontaminate and anything that the frozen food item touched inside the freezer would also remain contaminated for a really really long time.

I investigated this issue by looking into the ways that researchers store the viruses the are investigating. And it looked to me like this is a pretty complicated question because virus is comprised by freeze-thaw cycles that would happen in a home fridge situation; optimally this freeze-thaw problem would be avoided by the expensive freezers that researchers use in their labs. That said, I do agree that the 3-day-to-decontaminate recommendations based on the NIH study doesn’t apply for anything that’s frozen. Depending on what media the virus is floating around in, scientists might want to store their viruses at -70°C.   For safety, the temperature inside your freezer should be 0° F (-18° C), at that temperature all bets are off regarding how long it would take to decontaminate the freezer item. So, even if you think washing your other groceries is over the top, you might want to reconsider not washing your frozen items with soap and water.

Therefore, I don’t think VanWingen’s frozen food caution is alarmist as some critics have asserted. It is probably a very good idea to wash all frozen food packaging with soap and water before storing it in the freezer. If it is frozen meat, use cold water to wash it and make sure not to leave it out for long before washing it. You don’t want to add Salmonella poisoning to your list of problems during this pandemic.

Also, if something remains frozen while it is shipped, then in that case, that 3-day decontamination idea doesn’t apply. It would take longer to decontaminate a frozen item. If you don’t plan on using soap on the item, I would thaw and then wait at least 3 days after thawing. It is not safe to thaw meat on countertops; it must be thawed in the fridge. And if it is meat, don’t refreeze it after it has thawed.

A note on washing your hands; it’s tough on the virus, but tough on your hands too.

TIPS FOR KILLING THE VIRUS WITHOUT KILLING YOUR HANDS:

With all the added hand washing that needs to be done in the kitchen during the pandemic I recommend that you familiarize yourself with the Harvard School of Public Health  version of effective handwashing technique:

  • Use plain soap and water—skip the antibacterial soap (my emphasis)—and scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails for at least 20 seconds.
  • Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse hands, then dry with a clean towel

As a naturopath, I’m partial to Harvard’s version of hand washing because it cautions against the use of antibacterial soaps.

I would add to Harvard’s handwashing recommendation:

  • If possible, wash hands in water that’s not super hot. Warm water is adequate and hot water is hard on your skin.
  • Where ever possible, use soap and water and the above technique instead of Purell type products to clean your hands. Purell is harder on skin than soap and water. Your skin is actually part of the immune system. Skin protects you from invasion by microbes including viruses- so you don’t want to get dry, dehydrated, cracked skin during a pandemic. Sometimes, Purell is a necessity because you’re nowhere near a sink; it is better to use it if you have no access to soap and water than not to use it. Carry plenty moisturizer for such occasions.
  • DON’T USE BLEACH, LYSOL, OR ANY SUCH DISINFECTANTS ON YOUR HANDS!!!
  • And because we are doing a lot of hand washing- you need to moisturize your hands a lot, to replenish the oils lost due to the drying effect that soap and Purell on our skin.
    • Waxy skin salves are good because the beeswax in them adds to the protective barrier function of skin, your body’s first line of defense against invasion of pathogens like viruses

 

I am a life-long foodie. And I’m also experienced at working with a tight food budget. If you have limited food supplies and need ideas of how to make your groceries stretch while maintaining the best possible nutrition during the pandemic, and/or if you want some tips on how to prepare the food items you have access to so that you are eating not only highly nutritious but is also highly tasty dishes, just  send me your questions. I’m glad to give advice on preparing delicious, nutritious meals and making your food dollar stretch.

If you have any questions, don’t be shy about leaving a reply on the Life Change Medicine website and I will respond to your questions.

Be well & Stay Safe,

Dr. Joie

Grateful for the support from real people for the artwork

 

 

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