Antibacterial is out! As huge proponents of probiotics, we’ve always believed in nurturing your microbiome, not destroying it — and now it appears the FDA feels the same way.
A few weeks ago, the FDA officially banned the use of triclosan, triclocarban, and 17 other chemicals in antibacterial hand soap and body washes. Not only are these products no more effective than plain old soap and water, they may also be bad for your health. Repeated exposure to triclosan (liquid soap) and triclocarban (bar soap) is believed to disrupt hormone cycles and aid the growth of drug-resistant bacteria in your body.
“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”
Companies now have a year to either remove these ingredients from their products, or remove the products from the market. Unfortunately, this new rule does not apply to other common antibacterial and non-antibacterial household items containing triclosan, so be on the lookout next time you’re at the store! Products that may also contain triclosan include cosmetics, shaving creams, some toothpastes, hand sanitizers, and hand sanitizing wipes.
Hand Washing Tips
As we wait for antibacterial soaps and washes to clear the shelves, let’s take a moment to discuss the proper way to wash hands. Yep, there is a right way and a wrong way. Turning the tap on and darting your hands in and out of the stream for a millisecond isn’t going to do much. But you don’t need to spend 15 minutes scrubbing up like a surgeon, either. Here are the basics:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water. It doesn’t have to be hot! Either warm or cold water does the trick.
- Shut off the tap and apply soap. Save the earth by turning the faucet off while you lather up. Soap contains surfactants that lift soil and bacteria from skin. People also tend to scrub their hands more thoroughly when using soap, as opposed to when washing with water alone, and that increased friction removes germs, too. Don’t forget to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Scrub for at least 20 seconds – the optimal time for de-griming.
- Rinse well under clean, running water.
Source of hand-washing tips: CDC
Nurture Your Microbiome
Antibacterial chemicals can harm your microbiome, but how can you nurture it? One easy way is to increase your vegetable intake and eat fermented foods that are high in probiotics, like kefir. Exercising at least three times a week is also important because it increases blood flow to your gut. More obviously, excessive drinking can be harmful, as can smoking. Consider cutting back to only a few alcoholic beverages a week and quitting smoking all together.