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5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Hand Sanitizer Anymore

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Hand Sanitizer Anymore

This was a bit of an interesting article for me to write, because in the past, I was an avid user of hand sanitizer. In fact, you could almost say that I was addicted to it. So much so that I had one of those half-gallon canisters of the stuff sitting on my desk drawers, just in case I happened to need it at any particular moment.

I cut down on my use of hand sanitizer after some friends told me that I might have been going a bit overboard. They didn’t; however, give me any specific reasons. Luckily, after doing some research, I can share with you the exact reasons why overuse of hand sanitizer might not be such a good thing. If you are iffy about using hand sanitizer, or just want to know a little bit more about this mysterious clear-colored panacea, read on.

1. It Adversely Affects Your Skin.

If you are using a traditional alcohol-based hand sanitizer, then it’s likely the skin on your hands is a bit more worn than the rest of your body. This is because alcohol is a skin irritant, which disrupts your natural oil production causing both dry and flaky skin.

Over time, use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause the skin on your hands to age more rapidly than it would naturally, as dry skin is prone to developing wrinkles and other blemishes.

If you do need to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, make sure to use some kind of hand lotion soon afterwords.

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2. It Can Lead to the Development of Superbugs.

If your hand sanitizer doesn’t contain alcohol, then it likely contains “triclosan,” which is a powerful antibacterial agent. The problem is overuse of antibiotics like triclosan can lead to the development of superbugs – which are essentially diseases that have developed a resistance to traditional antibiotics

Indeed, one study has shown that prolonged used of germicides like triclosan can lead to outbreaks of tough-to-kill bacteria that are potentially extremely dangerous to society. Just in 2013 alone, the CDC reported that superbugs were responsible for “at least” 23,000 deaths.

Not only that, but another study found that using triclosan might negatively affect your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to more traditional illnesses (like the common cold).

That’s not to say that using a triclosan-based hand sanitizer once or twice a day will necessarily lead to the rise of a superbug. Using it excessively; however, might lead to some complications further down the line.

3. It Contains Unknown and Possibly Dangerous Chemicals.

The main ingredient in hand sanitizer is usually either alcohol or triclosan — both of which are designed to kill germs. Those aren’t; however, the only things present in your hand sanitizer – far from it actually. This is especially true if your hand sanitizer is scented, as synthetic fragrances normally consist of phthalates, which at their worst, can cause abnormalities in hormone production.

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You also need to look out for parabens, which are essentially preservatives meant to prolong the shelf-life of your trusty bottle of Purell. What makes these dangerous is how they are absorbed into your skin each time you use your hand sanitizer.

Perhaps worst of all is that the companies who make these products are not required to tell us the exact ingredients used in the scents of their hand sanitizers. Thus, they can be made up of several undisclosed chemicals.

To minimize your risk, stick to the stuff that doesn’t have any added fragrance.

4. It Can Increase Your Skin’s Absorption of BPA.

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a name you should be fairly familiar with by now. Just recently, there was a massive movement to get the chemical out of our plastic products (a transition that is still going on to this day). For those who don’t know, BPA is dangerous because it can do some pretty nasty things to your endocrine system, which in turn can cause numerous hormone disorders, cancer, and a litany of other bodily issues.

So, how does BPA relate to hand sanitizer? Well, one study out of the University of Missouri found that using hand sanitizer right before touching anything containing a high amount of BPA (like thermal receipt paper) can increase the amount of BPA absorbed through your skin by “up to a hundred-fold.”

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Perhaps even worse, a thin layer of BPA will remain on your skin even after it has been absorbed. Meaning that, if you first use hand sanitizer, get BPA on your hands, and then eat something, you’re essentially consuming a bit of that dangerous chemical with every bite. That isn’t good, which is why the University of Missouri’s researchers strongly suggest not using hand sanitizer right before touching something that contains BPA.

5. It Isn’t Even That Effective.

So, after reading all of this, you might be telling yourself, “well, at least hand sanitizer kills all the germs on my hands right? That at least makes it worth it.” Well, unfortunately, it’s not as clear cut as you’d think.

While certain hand sanitizers (specifically, those that contain at least 60% alcohol) are great at killing off microbial life, they can also remove naturally produced oils and beneficial bacteria present on your skin, which, ironically, reduces your body’s defenses against disease.

Not only that, but studies have also shown that traditional soap and water is more effective at washing away certain kinds of dangerous bacteria. Therefore, unless you have no access to soap and running water, stick to the standard hand-washing method. If you have no other option, then alcohol-based hand sanitizers with no added fragrance are your best bet — just be sure to have some sort of lotion on hand so that you don’t dry your skin out.

Alternatives

So, you’re convinced that you shouldn’t be using hand sanitizer all of the time, but also want to know if there are other ways to cleanse your hands when you don’t have access to soap and a sink.

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Well, there are a few things you can do. One of which is to create a homemade hand sanitizer, which keeps your hands clean without all of the negatives I listed above.

You can also wear thin gloves if you happen to be somewhere with a lot of germs, like an airport or a public bus. Just be sure not to rub your face with your gloves or anything like that.

Lastly, you can try and buy one of the more natural/organic hand sanitizers, though those are rare. What you will want to look at is their ingredient list. Try and find one that doesn’t contain alcohol or triclosan, or any other kind of questionable ingredient. They’ll probably be more expensive, but your health is worth the investment.

What’s your personal verdict on hand sanitizer? Are you going to stop using it for good now? Will you seek alternatives? Or do you remain unconvinced? Whatever your takeaway, I’d like to hear your perspective in the comment section below!

Featured photo credit: Clean hands in the woods/smilla4 via flic.kr

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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