You know how much I hate the flu shot—I tell you about it every year. But if there’s a close second on my seasonal hit list, it’s got to be hand sanitizer and antibacterial soaps.
It may seem like a silly beef to have. But the fact is, we Americans overuse this stuff. And it’s done a lot more harm than good… sanitizing our microbiome—and handicapping one of our body’s most basic defenses against chronic disease—with every needless pump.
To make matters worse, new research shows that these sanitizers don’t even do what they’re supposed to do… which is to protect you against the flu virus.
Wet mucus makes a hard target
First things first: These researchers observed the effectiveness of hand sanitizer against infectious wet mucus from patients with the influenza A virus.
Previous research on hand sanitizers focused on mucus that had already dried. And while that may not seem like a significant difference, it really is. (And not just because you’re more likely to encounter wet mucus—whether from coughs, sneezes, or snotty tissues—in real life.)
As it turns out, wet mucus also has physical properties that buffer any viruses against exposure to hand sanitizer. The viscosity of the mucus keeps the alcohol from reaching its target as quickly as it otherwise would. Meaning that the flu can hang out on your hands and fingers for longer.
In fact, results showed that, in wet mucus, the flu virus persisted even after two full minutes of exposure to hand sanitizer. After four minutes, the virus was deactivated… but needless to say, you can shake a lot of hands (or touch a lot of doorknobs) in just four minutes.
This news is a wake-up call to anyone who thought a little squirt would somehow keep them healthy. But it’s especially eye-opening for healthcare providers, who rely on hand sanitizers to avoid spreading germs from patient to patient during rounds.
Plain soap and water works best
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers clearly aren’t going to cut it when you’re trying to prevent a flu infection. But let me remind you that heavy-duty antibacterial soaps aren’t necessary, either.
Not only do these products feature potentially harmful ingredients, like triclosan and triclocarban. But even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) admits that there’s just no evidence that they work any better than regular old hand-washing.
The good news is that this latest study made the same observation. And, in fact, researchers found that even simply rubbing your hands together under water was enough to do the trick.
So today’s message should be crystal clear: Stay away from “antibacterial” products—and don’t waste your time with those hand sanitizers, either.
If you want to truly dodge a flu infection, wash your hands well and often, scrubbing for at least thirty seconds. And always stick with plain old soap and water.
And while you’re at it, make sure you’re giving your immune system a fighting chance against the flu by eliminating sugar. You shouldn’t be eating it anyway—but even one teaspoon slashes your immune defenses by half.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Sugar kills. But during flu season, it’s especially deadly. In fact, I discussed this threat in more detail in the December 2011 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“The hidden culprit behind cold and flu season…”). Subscribers have access to all of my past content in the archives. So if you haven’t already, consider signing up today. Click here now!
“Towards better hand hygiene for flu prevention.” Science Daily, 09/18/2019. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190918131505.htm)