The term "hygiene" is derived from Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health, cleanliness and sanitation. It does not come from the other Greek word, Hydra, which is a 9-headed serpent whose breath was poisonous!
Personal hygiene is often overlooked as a simple way to stay healthy. When you ask most people to list some easy ways to maintain health, they immediately shoot back with fitness or diet. The funny thing is, that hygiene and simply washing your hands has more than doubled our life expectancy over the last 100 years!
On top of longevity, hygiene has been proven to prevent or control a ton of easily curable conditions, including: dandruff, chronic halitosis (bad breath), ear wax, body odor, perspiration, head lice, urinary infection, pinworms and athlete’s foot to name but a few!
Staying Clean in General
It might not surprise you to know that a daily shower will do wonders for your body odor and even add to your good looks. It’s no secret that good looking people groom more than non-lookers. Does this mean that you will become Brad Pitt by following some simple guidelines of cleanliness… Nay! However, you are almost certain to be more appealing to the opposite sex (or same, if you dig) if you routinely take good care of your hygiene and grooming.
UNICEF is on a mission to teach the world to wash their hands. Statistics put out by UNICEF show that simply washing your hands at certain times during the day (right before eating and just after using the toilet) can reduce diarrhea rates among children under five years old by almost 50 percent and respiratory infections by 23 percent.
One of my pet peeves is people who use the bathroom and don’t wash afterward. I witness this on a regular basis at the restroom in my office.
Because I work on a computer all day, I feel like my hands are exposed to tons of germs from the keyboard and mouse. This is particularly true when sharing office equipment with co-workers. I think it is a good idea to wash your hands once and a while when using a keyboard. Because I run to the restroom so often, I get in a good dosage of hand-washing throughout the day.
When washing your hands, you should use hot water (as hot as you can safely stand) and make sure to scrub everywhere including your fingernails. Remember to use a paper towel to turn off the water (at work and public places) and to open the bathroom door.
At the very least, make sure that you follow the UNICEF guidelines and wash your hands prior to any meal or snack and after using the bathroom.
It is said that you should wash your hair with shampoo at least once per week. I personally wash my hair every day. Perhaps I am overdoing it and drying my hair and scalp. I dunno what the proper timing on this is, but obviously when your hair is getting overly oily and obviously dirty, it is time to do some scrubbing!
I have dandruff (perhaps due to the fact that I wash my hair everyday!) and easily control it with specialized shampoo. I like to alternate between a dandruff shampoo (I dig on Selsun Blue) one day and then an ordinary shampoo (American Crew for this head) the next day. I find that damdruff shampoo alone can dry my hair out more than normal… Plus on dandruff duty days, I do not use a conditioner, so the “normal” shampoo day goes a long way to help moisturize my locks.
Skin was mostly covered with the piece on showers above. I thought it deserved a section of its own however. Once again we are tasked with answering the age old question, how often should I shower? I think that this varies from person to person. Some people who perspire very little and do not build up noxious odors may not need to bathe as often as those of us in the less appealing side of things… However, I think it is common knowledge that you should take a bath or shower after a good solid workout. And, as was mentioned above, at least once per week.
Don’t forget to put on clean clothes (you would be surprised at how many people overlook this rule) after you shower!
Teeth and Gums
Twice a day is generally recognized as the minimum times that you should brush your teeth. First thing in the morning and last thing at night. Many people throw in a brushing after each meal to boot. I have been blessed with a very tough enamel and have no cavities. For this reason, I find that twice a day is perfect for me. Also, I use a battery powered brush (Sonicare) and find it invigorating to say the least! Also, I have found that it does a better job of cleaning my teeth in a shorter period of time.
Flossing is still held with high regard. As far as I know, dentists are still recommending this as a routine activity. I wouldn’t know, because I haven’t been to see a dentists in more than five years. Instead of flossing, I use a water pic device and find that it does a very good job.
I would suggest that you go to a dentist more often than me!
A Clean House
On top of bodily hygiene, your house is a potential haven for all kinds of germs (and worse). You should regularly: vacuum, wash counters, clean sinks and toilets and dust. Along with these cleaning chores, don’t forget to change your bedding sheets and clean or replace your furnace/AC filter(s).
Those Around You
You can pick your friends… And, you become much like the people you are surrounded by… Surround yourself with like-minded folk!
This subject is way to large for my tiny Blog… Suffice it to say that your pets should be clean too!
I know that I only touched on a miniscule piece of this huge topic… However, it is clearly (proven by thousands of doctors and scientists) a contributing factor to our health and longevity. I recommend that you evaluate your current hygiene procedures and see if you can’t improve upon some areas!
p.s. This post is a chapter in my blog-book, The Secret to Longevity. Checkout my similar posts here: http://hivlongevity.com/the-secret. Or, follow the goodie trail:
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