What Your Kitchen Towel Is Hiding


Published: June 19, 2018

RH Weekly News Roundup – 15 June 2018

What Your Kitchen Towel Is Hiding

Researchers have found a surprising source of pathogens – kitchen towels! After one month of normal use, 100 kitchen towels were examined. Nearly half (49%) of the towels had bacterial growth –  including the E.coli and S. aureus bacteria often found in urinary tract infections and food poisoning. The researchers also found that family size, diet, and usage patterns affected the growth of bacteria. Larger families and non-vegetarian families were more likely to have towels with bacteria. Additionally, towels used for multiple purposes (e.g. drying dishes and hands, wiping spills, holding hot cookware), had a higher bacterial count compared to single-use towels.

So, if you want to avoid food poisoning (and who doesn’t want that?), consider this a reminder to practice good hygiene in the kitchen. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling food and use separate towels for different purposes. Keep a stock of extra towels on hand to avoid reuse, and wash kitchen towels at least once a week, in a hot water cycle, to kill bacteria. And if someone in the household does become ill, wash all towels before using them again.


Never Doubt That A Small Group of Citizens Can Change the World…

Through families, friends, work, school, and social activities, we all belong to several different groups. Some groups exist entirely in virtual space. Regardless of type or location, group dynamics has a significant impact on our psychological and emotional health. A recently published study examined tipping points for social change in groups. For this study, participants were given a financial incentive to agree on a linguistic norm – i.e. what word to use to describe an object in a photograph. These participants were placed in larger groups with research confederates who were pushing for a change to the accepted term. When the number of confederates was less than a quarter of the total population, their efforts failed. But when the group advocating for change represented at least 25% of the total population of the group, the new norm was quickly and successfully adopted by the majority. Even when doubling and tripling the amount of money for sticking with the established standard, the results indicate that a united group can change the opinion of a larger group – as long as they reach the tipping point of 25% of group members.

As the study authors note in their report, real-life situations are much more complicated and the 25% figure should be treated as a ballpark number. However, these results could be helpful in developing a strategy for promoting social and healthy change. Want to convince coworkers to recycle or set aside time each day for group yoga? Want to reduce the acceptability of racist, sexist, or other bullying comments in the workplace? Then concentrate on the getting commitment from just one-quarter of the group first; the rest of the campaign should be easier.


Let’s Move! 

A recent statistical survey measuring exercise participation for teens and young adults across gender, race and income levels in the United States has some alarming conclusions. Women, especially young women of colour, take less exercise than their male counterparts – with the gap widening as they get older. After analyzing data from nearly 9,500 participants in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that while 88% of boys report being physically active, only 78% of girls report the same. And after high school, 73% of men stay active through their twenties, compared to 62% of women. For women of colour, 70% report being active as teens, but only 45% stay active after high school ends. A correlation was also found between socioeconomic status and exercise participation: 80% of young women in the highest income bracket were active compared to only 45% of the young women who lived below the poverty line.

These results are based on self-reporting by young adults in an American-only dataset; so they are not automatically applicable to all locations and groups. However, the World Health Organization has recently launched a Global Action Plan on Physical Activity claiming that “girls, women, older adults, poorer people, people with disabilities and chronic diseases, marginalized populations, and indigenous people have fewer opportunities to be active.” If you are struggling to be active in your daily life, why not pair up with a friend in a similar situation? Together you can find hidden opportunities, provide encouragement, and change the statistics for the better.




Exercise + Wine + Sleep = Better Health?

After studying the effects of different health habits, researchers may have found the formula for reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Multiple studies have shown a link between an accumulation of proteins called amyloid-beta plaques in the brain and the development of Alzheimer’s. The human body’s glymphatic system is responsible for clearing these proteins and other metabolic waste products from the brain on a daily basis; when that system fails, a build-up of toxic proteins can occur leading to the development of Alzheimer’s.

A recent research study from the UK examined the effects of sleep, exercise and alcohol on the glymphatic system. By examining the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), researchers found that the glymphatic system in mice was 60% more active in mice that were asleep when compared to those that were awake. Exercise also produced a significant increase in glymphatic function; this was attributed to increased heart rate and improved circulation of blood and CSF into the brain. To test the final part of the equation, mice were given small amounts of alcohol – the equivalent of about 25 ml of wine for humans – each day over the course of 30 days. These mice showed a 30-40% increase in glymphatic activity. Mice that were given larger doses of alcohol showed a decrease in the brain’s self-cleaning. So be sure to get plenty of rest, exercise a little each day, and if you wish, enjoy about a third of a unit of wine per day. Cheers!


New Treatment for PTSD Studied

Trauma and post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD) can lead to an unhealthy and debilitating amount of ruminating –  a constant reliving of the experience while focusing on the causes and effects rather than looking for solutions or resolutions. A small study in the US examined a new treatment protocol, called MapTraining, developed specifically for women who had traumatic experiences with sexual violence. A group of women – about one-third were survivors of sexual violence – were divided into four sets. One group participated in a meditation practice and a second group was assigned aerobic exercise. A third group used both meditation and physical exercise, while the fourth group acted as the control. The meditation and aerobic sessions lasted one hour, twice a week. After just six weeks, women who combined both meditation and aerobic activity had a significant reduction in ruminative thoughts as well as increased thoughts of self-worth. Meditation and exercise alone did not produce the same results.

Although this is a small, pilot study for a specific population, the results are encouraging. Violence against women is undeniably a worldwide issue; an estimated 35% of women have experienced sexual or physical violence. PTSD is also strongly associated with veterans returning from the war front, and victims of crime and abuse. This simple, affordable program – with virtually no negative side effects – has the potential to help many people worldwide recover from these types of experiences.

On a related note, the surprising recent deaths of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain have sparked many conversations, online and in person, about the issues of depression and mental illness in our communities. To all of our readers: our world is absolutely a better place because you are in it.  So remember to take care of yourself – mind, body, and spirit – every day.  If you need some help with that, do not be afraid or embarrassed to talk with your loved ones or get help from one of the many crisis hotlines and chat-rooms available around the world.

Like what you're reading? Sign up for our free newsletter and never miss a post! Plus get a FREE digital version of our Issue No.10 with sign up.

Shop Now

Leave a Comment