Antibacterial products, especially liquid hand soaps containing antibacterial compounds, are readily made available for use, especially when cold and flu season comes around. All of us want to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep ourselves and our families prepared to ward off disease.
Unfortunately, antibacterial compounds can contain chemicals that are believed to interfere with some critical hormones and can even be immune, skin, and respiratory toxicants. They are not only found in the now all-too-familiar liquid hand soaps, but also in a number of household items such as cleansers, toys, toothpaste, cutting boards, baby bedding, socks, and cosmetics, just to name a few. While at low doses, these chemicals may not be risky for most people, but babies and small children or those with allergies, asthma, and general sensitivities should probably avoid them.
Growing evidence suggests that not only is the answer 'No,' but they could actually be doing us harm!
First of all, most colds and flu are not caused by bacteria, thus making antibacterial products totally ineffective. Also, many of them don't kill the infectious bacteria we expect them to kill but often only types of bacteria which cause spoilage or those that may restrain the growth of algae, odor-causing bacteria, and microorganisms infectious only to animals
Second, it is believed that children's immune systems cannot mature unless they are exposed to 'dirt.' Some infectious agents, especially those that co-evolved with us, are able to protect us against a large spectrum of immune-related disorders. Since most bacteria are harmless, we need to be exposed to numerous different microbes as we grow to develop the antibodies that make up a strong immune system.
It is believed that the overuse of these products has actually made the immune system shift away from fighting infection to developing more allergic tendencies. This is because our bodies no longer need to fight germs as much as they did in the past. Also, these products can kill off weak as well as good bacteria, leaving only the strong resistant ones behind.
#1. Keep your hands clean!
Washing your hands frequently with a simple hand soap is the most effective way to combat colds and flu. Teach your children to sing the ABCs a few times while scrubbing hands vigorously.
A good hand sanitizer that has no toxic additives can be used when a sink is not available. (But remember, they are only effective on relatively clean hands, not ones covered with dirt.)
#2. Keep your kitchen clean!
The kitchens in our homes are where most disease-causing germs live, especially in our kitchen sponges and dishcloths. So make sure to microwave those items for 2 minutes as the most effective way to sterilize them and prevent infections.
Of course, there is definitely a place for antibacterial soap and cleansers in any environment that must be sterile, such as in hospitals or in other unique circumstances in family homes.
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