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We seem to be making our bodies weaker fighting germs
dennis Wyatt web
Dennis Wyatt

Death - or at least a debilitating illness - apparently is just a shopping trip to the store away.

Enter your favorite store - Food-4-Less, Save Mart, Target et al - and right by the front door are free sanitary wipes for shopping carts.

For generations people went grocery shopping without benefit of free sanitary wipes. How did they make it to the checkout stand without collapsing from a 105 degree fever?

Germs and bacteria are real. And while we need to practice basic sound hygiene such as washing your hands after going to the bathroom or before we handle food do we really need to arm ourselves with sprays, wipes and an arsenal other products playing off our collective phobia with germs and bacteria? As a result corporations are cleaning up with billions of dollars a year selling products designed to keep you healthy that - unless you have a weakened immune system due to a catastrophic malady such a cancer - aren't really necessary.

There are literally tens of thousands of germs and bacteria alone on a pinhead. And even if you "wiped" most of them off objects such as shopping cart handles there are billions upon billions more in the store whether they are in the air or on the canned goods, bottles, packages or a host of other things you will touch as you make your way through the store. Do you use sanitized wipes to clean each item before you touch them?

It goes without saying that a lot more people touch shopping cart handles but unless they are sticky or such do we really protect our health by wiping them down?

Germs and bacteria are real. But then so are serial killers and terrorists.

And, yes, we are all going to die someday. But I'd argue the stress of worrying about being killed due to what's on the things we touch does more to undermine our health and mental state via stress than bacteria or germs on a shopping cart.

Even if it doesn't make you paranoid to constantly wipe down surfaces to battle germs, it certainly takes money out of your pocket.

Next time you grab a cleaning product deliberately marketed as anti-bacterial that has a slight premium price compared to old-school items such as liquid Lysol, read the fine print in a size that looks like it was intended for placement on a pinhead on the back of the container. You will notice many like 409 All Purpose Cleaner have fine print that states you must thoroughly wet surfaces used to prepare food and let it stand for 10 minutes or for 30 seconds for all other uses before you wipe it in order to disinfect it. Even then product websites will point out that it doesn't kill everything. Toss in the fact that bacteria and germs start landing again in no time at all and you've got to wonder about how effective using an "anti-bacterial" product really is for most applications outside of a sterile room at a hospital. That's especially true on "heavily soiled areas" where manufacturers of cleaning supplies marketed as anti-bacterial warn that you must pre-clean with "potable water" before spraying with an anti-bacterial in order to sanitize the surface.

In other words the innovation that drastically improved the health of man - potable or treated water from your kitchen tap - is key to keeping bacteria from ganging up on you.

I'm not saying that cleaning your house as if it is a clean room for a computer chip manufacturing process doesn't improve things, but it is doubtful it does so in any significant way that enhances health.

The more we try to protect our bodies from things such as germs and dust, it seems we are increasing our risk of serious illness. That's because we undermine Mother Nature's system of using the vast majority of germs to help our body build up stronger defenses. It is why a less potent version of viruses are used for flu shots.

Keep in mind the environment we live in today if you are stressed about pollution and climate change is significantly more conducive to living longer. Toss in the fact the human body was never designed for - or intended to be in - a perfectly clean living environment, and you've got to start wondering if our fear of getting sick is getting us sick.

Our bodies are amazing things. They can adapt to stressors whether it is exercise or germs. In doing so, our bodies become more resistant and stronger.

Look around. There are a lot of folks living to be 100 years and older.

And they got there not being paranoid about germs but doing basic common sense things and taking advantage of the three key innovations to fighting bacteria-triggered disasters that have become common place in much of the world over the last century - potable water, wastewater treatment systems, as well as sanitary garbage collection and disposal.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.