5 Habits for Health and Hygiene

The Fresh Perspective Podcast - Episode 6

How’s it going everyone? I’m Nick and you are listening to the Fresh Perspective Podcast.

This episode is the second installment in series we call: “50 Habits for Maximizing Personal Health and Wellbeing.” In this series, we will get to the bottom of what experts actually recommend when it comes to those small-yet-impactful health choices we make, day to day. If you haven’t’ yet listened to our first podcast in this series, be sure to check it out! It includes an introduction to the 50-Healthy-Habits program as well as advice about sleeping habits, diet, and exercise! Today, we will continue discussing physical health with five more habits you’d do well to adopt.

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Let’s continue right for where we left off! Again, if you would like an updated version of this list, or to dig even deeper into our referenced sources to the studies and articles on which this advice is based, visit: freethoughtforum.org/blog/50-habits.

6. BRUSH YOUR TEETH TWICE A DAY AND FLOSS ONCE A DAY

Oral hygiene is a significant contributor to one’s overall physical health. According to well-established studies, all adults should engage in tooth-brushing twice daily (soon after rising from bed or breakfast and soon after dinner) with fluoridated toothpaste. A toothbrush is the most effective tool in removing plaque from teeth, but that does not mean that flossing should be ignored. Daily brushing and flossing combat some major health conditions such as gingivitis, periodontal tissue attachment loss, and carious lesion development, even more than direct treatment of these conditions after the fact.

7. BATHE ABOUT ONCE A DAY

Your skin is your largest organ, and regular bathing is an essential part of skin care, infection prevention, waste removal, preventing the spread of pathogens, and overall societal standards of cleanliness and professionalism. However, it is possible to shower too often or too intensely. Excessive bathing can lead to rough, dry, and irritated skin. It can also compromise the naturally protective oils in the skin provide such as housing beneficial bacteria and providing a barrier against harmful chemicals. One’s natural scent can also be neutralized by excessive bathing, often noticeable by one’s intimate partner.

Therefore, based upon your own activity levels, as well as your body’s chemistry, you should plan on showering about once per day (at least twice every three days and shortly after vigorous exercise). Remember to not use water that is too hot. Avoid showering for more than 30 minutes at a time. In order to prevent rough or dry skin, lotion and moisturizers can be used shortly after bathing.

8. WASH HANDS AFTER RESTROOM USE, PRIOR TO PREPARING FOOD, EATING, AND AS NEEDED

Hand washing is the single best way to stop the spread of pathogens and disease. Hand washing is even preferable to anti-bacterial alcohol-based disinfectant gels and similar products! It is a practice that is paramount to personal, interpersonal, and societal wellbeing. No other medical practice or hygienic act is as important and thus requires our constant adherence.

Good handwashing practice includes hand soap, hot (but not scalding) water, and rubbing your hands together for several seconds. It is strongly recommended after any restroom use, before preparing food, before eating, after eating, and after touching objects that often come in contact with pathogens such as steering wheels, door knobs, used dishes, pets, and shoes. When asked about how often people wash their hands, they tend to exaggerate and assume that they are doing much better than they actually are. In reality, only about 40% of people wash their hands as recommended.

9. USE MEDICATIONS ONLY AS PRESCRIBED

Prescription drug abuse and over-the-counter drug abuse has risen dramatically in the United States in recent years, leading to a rise in addiction and a swarm of other health and societal issues. For example, deaths from opioid overdoses quadrupled between 1999 and 2010, exceeding deaths from cocaine and heroin combined. For teens especially, the abuse of over-the-counter drugs has reached epidemic levels.

Parents are strongly encouraged to be aware of the drugs being purchased and used by their adolescent children. Even innocuous drugs such as cold and cough medicines may be abused.

To prevent such addiction or abuse, it is reasonable to ask your doctor about non-drug treatments whenever possible. When drug treatment is prescribed, it is important to follow one’s medical prescription exactly as it is written. Likewise, when using an over-the-counter drug, the instructions for usage on a bottle’s label should be followed with strict fidelity. Be sure to ask questions about your medication until you fully understand how and how often it should be taken. Communicate any problems you are having with your medications with your doctor before adjusting your medication use in any way. If you suspect that the recommended dosage on the side of an over-the-counter drug will not meet your needs, communicate this with a pharmacist so that you can be sure to purchase the most effective drug for your condition.

10. KEEP A HEALTH JOURNAL

Medical professionals could use as much information about your health history as possible when making an appropriate diagnosis. Although there are efforts to record this information on a database that can be accessed by medical professionals from different organizations, the endeavor has been plagued by multiple logistical, political, and practical issues. While technical and elaborate answers may be more widely available in the future, simply keeping a written “personal health journal” can be a useful tool for this and other purposes.

The Free Thought Initiative strongly recommends that each member keeps such a journal up to date and readily accessible at a moment’s notice. (To help keep your medical information private, it is recommended that you do not record this information digitally.) A personal health journal can be kept in a common notebook or sketchbook dedicated to this purpose. Even if the written information isn’t used for decades, the accumulated data can be indispensable in the future.

What should be written in a health journal? You should update it with the date, time, and details of any change to your physical, cognitive, or emotional health such as:

  • Whenever you dramatically change your diet, sleep patterns, or exercise routine

  • Whenever your diet and sleep patterns change inexplicably

  • Whenever you lose or gain a large amount of weight

  • Whenever you experience any head trauma or bodily injury

  • When you feel new pains or aches

  • When you notice new bruising, burns, bites or other new marks on your skin

  • When you feel dramatic changes in your mood or experience dramatic emotional events

  • When you notice unusual things in the process or products of defecation or urination

  • Whenever you drink more alcohol than usual

  • Whenever you take prescribed or over-the-counter medication. (This can help to prevent accidental overdose.) It is also useful to describe in a small note the dosage taken, the effects that you feel from the medication, and how long it takes to feel the effects

That is all I have for you today, but the conversation continues across social media and in the comment sections below. Do you agree with today’s message? Am I mistaken about some detail? How can I better elaborate on this topic in the future? Feel free to share your perspective!

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Written By Nicholas Burk, Executive Board Member © 2019 Free Thought Initiative

Free Thought Forum