Are Your Food Selections and Surroundings Making You Sick?


Dr. Charles Gerba, microbiology professor at the Arizona University at Tucson, has been on a tirade for decades about the hazards of germs in our environment. He’s done study after study to expose where germs are and how best to protect ourselves from them.

Not all germs are bad

It’s important to note that some germs are beneficial to one’s health. In fact, billions of bacterial “germs” live inside one’s digestive system and are referred to as your gut flora.

If you get an imbalance of these germs, you feel sick or get infected. An imbalance can be caused by antibiotics, poor diet or external organisms that people ingest and attack the beneficial germs.

One way to improve your overall health is to consume probiotics. Probiotics consist of live bacteria that take up residence in your gut when you eat them.

The most common and one of the most popular forms of probiotics can be found in yogurt. Many people eat probiotic yogurt in an effort to maintain good health.

Wrong Kind of Healthy

However, popular name brand yogurts are often loaded with undesirable ingredients like sugar, food coloring, and preservatives. These things can actually make you feel sick after you eat them.

As always, it’s important to choose a brand of probiotic yogurt that is natural and organic.

Smarter Choice

A better way to consume probiotics is to take acidophilus daily.

Acidophilus is a probiotic supplement that in some formulations can contain up to 500 million beneficial organisms, all in one supplement that is sugar free and preservative free.

Where are the Bad Germs?

Getting back to the dirty germs, or the ones that are not healthy for you, the microbiologist Dr. Gerba ran a test to see how many germs are in an average kitchen, where food is prepared.

The results were astounding. The culprits? Kitchen countertops, sponges, hand towels, and even on the sides of the kitchen sink.

Staying Healthy

Staying healthy means making sure that the food you prepare for your family isn’t contaminated even before you eat it.

Here are some tips that must be remembered whenever you handle and cook food:

  • Don’t splatter water onto the counter while you’re rinsing raw chicken. Keep the water stream low and move the chicken slowly.
  • After you rinse the raw chicken, clean your kitchen sink with hot water and soap. Toss the cleaning rag in the washer.
  • Use a washable cloth rag such as a Hand wipe, instead of a kitchen sponge. Sponges harbor germs like a little bacteria motel. If you prefer a sponge, run it through the dishwasher daily.
  • Maintain separate cutting boards for fresh produce and meat. Your wooden board can be for fruits and veggies. Use a plastic washable one for meats.
  • Launder kitchen towels daily. Your kitchen towel shouldn’t be used beyond two days in a row.
  • Sprinkle spices into measuring spoons or your hand. Never dip your fingers into the spices to get them out of the jar.

Staying healthy on the road is more difficult but not impossible.

As the following article shows, here are 6 ways to cook food from a hotel room:

  1. Use paper towels exclusively for clean-up, not cloths or sponges.
  2. Bring homemade food from home instead of processed food.
  3. Opt for microwaveable food like soup and hot sandwiches.
  4. Store leftovers in hotel room refrigerator.
  5. Buy a Styrofoam cooler with dry ice if no refrigerator is available.
  6. Bring a supply of disposable utensils, because you can’t plan on being able to wash items properly in tiny hotel bathroom sinks.

Keeping your food environment clean and making smart food choices is an integral part of staying healthy.

About the Author: Kate Supino is an advocate for whole foods and a healthy lifestyle.


Kate Supino
Kate Supino writes about nutrition, whole foods and holistic living. Visit her online portfolio at: