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Scientists Discover Why You Should Take Off Your Shoes Before Entering Your Home

Scientists Discover Why You Should Take Off Your Shoes Before Entering  Your Home

It was only when I had a Japanese guest visit that I realized the importance of taking off my shoes before entering the house. As many Japanese eat on tatami mats on the floor and sleep on futons that are rolled out at night, it seems perfectly logical to keep shoes at the door. In fact, this is the norm in most Asian countries. Yet, interestingly, many European and American families never bother to insist on leaving shoes at the door.

Now, science is backing up this hygienic practice and revealing that what you pick up on your shoes is not just a few germs and dirt, but rather nasty customers who should never be allowed into your home! This is particularly important when you have toddlers rolling around the floor.

Which nasty bacteria are you bringing home?

Researchers at the University of Houston found that about 40% of shoes were carrying the nasty “C.diff” bacterium, which stands for Clostridium difficile. These spores are not at all easy to treat.

The study found that this C.diff was not only on shoe soles (about 40% of the total examined), but also spread around other household areas such as toilets, tops and surfaces, and wherever floor dust was found. These spores can live on dry surfaces for a long time.

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The problem with treating an infection caused by C.diff is that it is resistant to most antibiotics. This can cause the bacterium to proliferate and make recovery very difficult for the patient. The linings in the intestines are attacked, resulting in colitis. Many people in hospitals pick up the C.diff infection and it is becoming more difficult to treat.

Now, you don’t want this bacteria as a guest in your home, do you? Off with the shoes and on with the slippers.

What else is on those shoe bottoms?

Well, there will be a disgusting quantity of dust, bird droppings, dog poop, leafy debris and other unwanted matter. The leafy stuff acts as a breeding ground for bacteria.

“That means potentially harmful bacteria can survive on your shoes for days or even weeks.”- Dr. Reynolds, microbiologist, University of Arizona

The University of Arizona decided to assess the quantity of bacteria and they were not disappointed – they found 421,000 different units! These can be categorized into 9 different strains. They are the cause of infections in the eyes, lungs and stomach. Two of these are certainly worth mentioning so you can reach for your slippers the moment you get home.

The first one is known as E.coli (a pathogenic organism) and it makes up about a third of all bacteria so it is a heavyweight. E.coli strains are mostly harmless, thank goodness, but the nasty ones (like E.coli 0157:H7) are not. They often cause severe stomach and intestinal problems leading to vomiting and diarrhea. Now, you might think the risk of contacting the E.coli bacteria from your shoes is minimal. But let me ask you a question: How many times did you visit the restrooms at work today?

Another type of bacteria the researchers found was the Klebsiella pneumoniae which is known to cause severe damage to the lungs and lead to pneumonia. The death rate from this bacteria is high at 50% and can reach 100% when people are suffering from alcoholism.

What you can do to have a healthier and cleaner home

There are so many advantages in taking off those shoes and wearing slippers. You will have to clean the house less often and your floor coverings will last longer, thus saving you lots of money. Your shoes will last longer, too!

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Keep a shoe rack or basket near the door so that everyone does it automatically, as soon as they get home.

Your house will be much healthier and cleaner. If you have toddlers, they can safely play on the floor and you need not worry about them. Another great advantage is that if you go barefoot, you will be stimulating your foot pressure points — for you reflexology enthusiasts. The Chinese have been doing that for 5,000 years!

Finally, your neighbors downstairs will start smiling at you again as they no longer hear the clip-clop of your shoes, up and down, morning and night!

But perhaps Al Franken put it best:

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“It’s easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world.”

Featured photo credit: 28/365 These might be the dirtiest shoes I own now/ Liz Mc via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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