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Nothing Says Holidays Like Spreading Warmth and Cheer – and Germs!

Nothing Says Holidays Like Spreading Warmth and Cheer – and Germs!

We’re running a germ gauntlet daily against a battalion of bacteria and contagious culprits – on the subway, the office elevator, the office potluck, and especially those germy door handles and handrails. Touching a handrail is like shaking hands with 10,000 people!

Throw in the holiday office socializing, where there’s bound to be a few sickies whose germs are making the rounds. Sick colleagues are shedding bacteria and viruses, and you can expect all surfaces within 6 feet of that person to be contaminated for at least a day.

Their germy sneeze droplets and disgusting nose mucous travel at 80 km an hour, and up to 15 feet in distance. “Even if they aren’t coughing or sneezing, thousands of droplets are flying out of their mouth. You can’t see them but it only takes one to land in your eye or for you to breathe up your nose to infect you,” says Bryce Wylde, alternative health practitioner and a medical advisor to the Dr. Oz show.

Stand at least three feet away or risk finding yourself sick in bed through your precious days off, instead of making merry. You can run but you can’t hide. The workplace is a bastion of microbes and every single surface is coated with thousands of them. While most aren’t pathogenic it never hurts to wash your hands often and keep your immune system strong through good nutrition, suggests Wylde.

Take note of the top 10 places where germs lurk:

  • Cell phones are germ collectors, habouring about 25,000 germs per square inch. Your device is coated with bacteria from your mouth and hands, and even pathogens picked up in the bathroom because you can’t leave it behind! Get those antibacterial wipes out now!
  • Keyboards host some pretty nasty stuff, and are notorious for transmitting human borne viruses. Think 200 times as many bacteria as a toilet seat. One study reports that when healthy people touched virus-contaminated hard surfaces, 60% picked up the germs after 1 hour and 30% got infected after 18 hours.
  • Gross alert! The electronic ID badge is the dirtiest item you handle – it’s got 243 times more bacteria than your pet’s toy, reports
  • The average office desk has a whopping 400 times more germs and bacteria than the toilet seat. Most people don’t clean their desk until they start sticking to it.
  • Briefcases, purses and money are Petri dishes for germs. Viruses and bacteria can live on most surfaces for 48 hours or more, and paper money may even transport a live flu virus for well over a week.
  • The work lunch room is brewing with bacteria, with the communal coffee pot, refrigerator, microwave and surfaces being shared by all, but rarely cleaned.
  • Elevator buttons, light switches, door knobs and conference room armrests are covered in microbes. There’s a reason why people use their elbows to press their floor and turn off lights.
  • Whether you’re staying in a five-star hotel or basic three-star for business, you can bet on the TV remote, bathroom counter and telephone have the most microbe-ridden surfaces, carrying a whole host of infectious diseases. 
  • We’re out to lunch when it comes to germs on table tops, menus and table condiments in restaurants. Next time you’re on a business lunch, maybe just order the special – menus carry an average of 185,000 bacteria. And go easy on the salt – for more reasons than one.
  • Work bathrooms are rampant with E. coli and other fecal toxins – “that’s because every time a toilet is flushed and the lid is left up, a fine aerosol mist is sprayed into the air that contains all types of bacteria-causing diseases,” says Wylde. Use paper towels to turn faucets off and on, to close the toilet lid before flushing, and to open the door for a quick escape.


What are you gonna do when they come for you? Hacks to outrun those germs:

  • Reach for melatonin and an eye mask. Deep sleep is critical to a robust immune system. But don’t just aim for 8 hours, make sure it’s deep and restful sleep. Wylde recommends taking slow-release melatonin at 1mg/50lbs and make sure you have black out blinds or wear a sleep mask. 
  • The simplest and least expensive health hack is to keep fit. Regular intensive exercise boosts your immune system. But, guess where you’re most likely to catch a germ? The gym! So be extra vigilant about hand washing and not touching your face while you’re there. 
  • Eat a ton of fresh garlic and onion – and he means a ton! Like 2 onions and 5 garlic cloves daily. “Potent antimicrobials found in them will help defend from and kill germs but also keep sick people – and just about everyone – away from you!” 
  • Add in some health-boosting high-fibre oats to your diet – go for 2 cups daily.  
  • Forgo coffee for tea! A good brew for you is green, black, oolong or white tea – coffee does not have the same immune-boosting effect. Ideally aim for 3-4 cups daily. 
  • A mushroom a day can keep a cold away, especially the Asian variety like Shiitake. Incorporate about1-2 ounces daily added to soups, eggs, sauces and stir fries.

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