Office Hours: Monday - Thursday 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

What’s The Best Way To Really Get Your Hands Clean?

Many people - especially children - can be careless about washing their hands, which can lead to the spread of infection. Washing your hands is not only quick and cost-effective, but the best way to protect yourself and others from spreading germs. Wash your hands: 

  • Before you pick up anything to eat
  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • After using the toilet, changing a baby's diaper, or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After you blow your nose or sneeze
  • After touching garbage.

In addition, be sure to wash your hands before and after caring for someone who is sick and after touching animal food or waste.

So what's the best way to wash your hands? Good old soap and water: work up a lather and scrub well, cleaning the backs of the hands, between the fingers and under the nails. Doing this should take about 20 seconds; afterwards rinse and dry on a clean towel or under an air dryer.

If soap and water aren't available, try an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol - but note that these products don't eliminate all types of germs, and aren't effective when hands are visibly dirty.

And skip the antibacterial soaps and gels for home use - in healthcare settings there is a need, but at home, there is no proven purpose for them, and they may be counterproductive by accelerating the development of resistance to antibiotics.

How Standing, Not Sitting, Benefits Health

We’ve heard a lot lately about the toll excessive sitting – at work, in traffic, at home in front of the TV or computer – can take on health. Now a study from Australia has shown that replacing sitting with two hours of standing or stepping (which includes walking and running) can help improve your health. Researchers at the University of Queensland investigated the effects of spending more time on their feet among 782 men and women, ages 36-80. All the study participants were provided activity monitors that can accurately determine how long each one spent sleeping, sitting, lying down, or standing and stepping. The participants wore the monitors on their thighs for 24 hours a day for seven days. Then, the researchers used a statistical technique called isotemporal analysis to estimate the potential impact on health of switching from sitting to standing or stepping. They determined that an extra two hours per day standing was linked to approximately 2 percent lower average fasting blood sugar levels, 11 percent lower average triglycerides, a boost in HDL (“good”) cholesterol and a 6 percent average drop in the ratio between total and HDL cholesterol. Two hour extra stepping time was associated with an approximately 11 percent lower BMI and a 7.5-centimeter (about 3 inches) smaller waist circumference. 

My take: We know from other studies that habitual sitting is related to increased deposits of adipose tissue around the heart (pericardial fat), a change linked to cardiovascular disease that can impact the arteries that serve the heart. While the Australian researchers acknowledge that more and larger studies are needed to confirm their findings, the results of this one are useful. They show that health can be improved with simple habits of lifestyle, including the amount of time you spend standing and stepping. I’m in favor of anything that encourages you to move regularly. Spending a little more time on your feet would be a good start.

Yogurt Consumption Might Help Diabetes

Eating yogurt regularly may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health followed nearly 200,000 adults ages 25 to 75 for up to 30 years, checking in on them regularly through food questionnaires. After adjusting for age, smoking, body mass index and other risk factors, the team concluded that consuming 12 ounces of yogurt daily - three times the usual four-ounce serving - was linked to an 18 percent reduction in the risk for Type 2 diabetes. The study also found that consumption of other dairy products didn't seem to make a difference to the risk of diabetes. Lead author Mu Chen told the New York Times that yogurt's positive effect might be due to the probiotic bacteria it contains, although that remains to be studied. Frank Hu, the study's senior author, was quoted in news reports as saying that the benefits may stem from yogurt's high protein content, which can increase satiety and reduce feelings of hunger, or it could be that regular yogurt consumption is simply a marker for a healthy lifestyle.

Motivating for Health and Well-Being (Video)

Fear is a common motivator in health - when something goes wrong with our health, we are motivated to see a doctor and find a quick fix. Dr. Weil believes fear is not a good motivator for good health and instead believes education is a better option for motivation of making lifestyle changes. See what else Dr. Weil says about motivating people to make better choices in life and their health.

Want new videos from Dr. Weil? Subscribe to his YouTube channel for weekly videos!

Why Your Health Matters (Video)

Listen as Dr. Weil speaks about why health matters and what we can do to live a long and healthy life. Part of Dr. Weil's vision for a healthier world is providing integrative medicine and using natural ways to enhance our healthy living. The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, founded by Dr. Weil in Tucson, Arizona, is leading the way of providing integrative medicine.

Learn more about the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine:

Learn more about the Integrative Health Center in Phoenix:

Want new videos from Dr. Weil? Subscribe to his YouTube channel for weekly videos!

What Protects Women Against Age-Related Disability?

lack of exercise alone was deemed responsible for nine percent of the risk for walking problems, five percent of heart disease risk and four percent of arthritis riskThe answer is healthy habits - including not smoking and getting regular exercise, according to British researchers. Those two factors, plus not drinking too much alcohol could help eliminate up to 17 percent of the heart disease, arthritis and walking problems seen in women in their 60s and 70s, according to a study published online on September 29, 2013 by the journal Age and Aging. Investigators from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine asked more than 2,500 women participating in the British Women’s Heart and Health Study to fill out questionnaires on their smoking, exercise, alcohol consumption and eating habits. Seven years later those women reported whether or not they had developed any disabling health problems. Results showed that women who did not exercise were about twice as likely to develop arthritis compared to women who did exercise; the inactive women were also twice as likely to have problems walking and were more likely to develop heart disease. Those who smoked or had a history of smoking developed heart disease at more than twice the rate of the women who never smoked. The researchers reported that lack of exercise alone was deemed responsible for nine percent of the risk for walking problems, five percent of heart disease risk and four percent of arthritis risk.

Lois G. Kim, Joy Adamson and Shah Ebrahim, “Influence of life-style choices on locomotor disability, arthritis and cardiovascular disease in older women: prospective cohort study,” Age and Aging doi: 10.1093/ageing/aft127

Whole Fruit for Better Health

Blueberries, grapes, and apples can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetesBlueberries, grapes, and apples can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but you'll need to eat the whole fruit - rather than drinking fruit juice - to get their benefits, according to new research from the Harvard School of Public Health. The investigation was the first to look at the influence of specific fruits on the risk of the disease. The study team looked at total fruit consumption and at the influence of eating a variety of fruits including grapes or raisins; peaches, plums, or apricots; prunes; bananas; cantaloupe; apples or pears; oranges; grapefruit; strawberries; and blueberries. They also considered consumption of orange, grapefruit and apple juices as well as other fruit juices. The data they analyzed came from more than 187,000 health care professionals participating in three long-running studies. None of the participants had any type of major chronic disease when they enrolled in the studies. The Harvard team found that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes among individuals who ate at least two weekly servings of blueberries, grapes and apples was 23 percent lower than it was in study participants who ate less than one serving of fruit per month. Those who drank one or more servings of fruit juice daily had a 21 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

My take? There’s a big difference between fruit and fruit juice. Fruit juice is a concentrated sugar source that can promote insulin resistance and obesity, especially when consumed in quantity, so I’m not surprised by the new study’s findings. Interestingly, the report also showed that switching from fruit juice to whole fruit lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes by at least seven percent. Another effective strategy to lower your risk is to avoid carbohydrate foods high on the glycemic index, the measure of how rapidly the body converts them into glucose, provoking an insulin response. Reducing or eliminating your intake of alcoholic beverages will also help. The body burns calories from alcohol immediately, increasing the likelihood that those from the food you eat along with alcoholic drinks will be stored as fat.

Qi Sun and Isao Muraki et al, “Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies,“ BMJ, online August 29, 2013