How clean are your dishes?
(Previously published June 2011)
With Energise and Detox before Energise release date fast approaching, updating this article could not be more important than today.
This made headlines a few years ago, but it was quickly forgotten to not scare people and customers eating in restaurants and food outlets, as well as launderette and dry-cleaning facilities where hygiene may not be their forte.
Not only dishwashers are the usual suspects in house fire (think electricity and water playing in the same field together. It is wise to never go to bed with your dishwasher running*), a study appearing in the latest edition of the journal Fungal Biology, published by the British Mycological Society, revealed that dishwasher are becoming the perfect breeding ground for potentially harmful Black fungus or yeast.
Exophiala dermatitidis and E. phaeomuriformis, found in 62% of a total of 190 dishwashers (in 101 cities over six continents), thrive in extreme temperatures and conditions (Extremophile). The rubber band seal of the dishwasher is the perfect spot for the fungi rarely found in nature.
However, it is not only dishwashers that create ideal conditions but also washing machines and coffee machines; high heat, high acid content, humidity and residual organic matters (food) create a suitable environment for the development of the fungi. “The discovery of this widespread presence of extremophilic fungi in some of our common household appliances suggests that these organisms have embarked on an extraordinary evolutionary process that could pose a significant risk to human health in the future” wrote the authors of the study, warning that “further research is imperative“.
Co-author, Nina Gunde-Cimerman, a microbiologist at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, also wrote: ‘The bottom line is that this pathogenic black yeast species occurs rarely in nature, but in very high numbers in the dishwashers‘ but commented further when interviewed by The Daily Telegraph: “We tested the dishes after they had been cleaned in these dishwashers and they were full of this black yeast, so too the cutlery that you put in your mouth. We just don’t know how serious this could be.” (this, however, was not mentioned in the study)
Scientists were quick to respond to the survey, and Dr Henry F. Chambers, chief of infectious diseases at San Francisco General Hospital, was one of them. ”Frankly, this is of little or no medical importance. Now I don’t dispute that they found these organisms. But I’m not surprised at all. These are hardy organisms. You go in your shower and you will find microorganisms in your shower. Behind your toilet as well. We shouldn’t overestimate the importance of these organisms relative to what is already in or on your body. [...] nothing they found is able to cause disease in people who are not extremely immunocompromised.” Adding, “we’re talking about very rare infections.“
Dr. Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Langone Medical Center, added his own comment: ”We’re exposed to large amounts of fungi in everyday life. When you consume any kind of dairy product you’re likely to come into contact with fungi. There are more fungi – that is, a mold fungus with spores – in an ounce or two of cheese than you’re likely to get from exposure to a dishwasher. And, in any case, 99 percent of the organisms that we come into contact with on a daily basis are totally innocuous.“
Concerns are indeed about that other one percent and more research should be done to identify any danger to our health on the long term.
Are there reasons to be concerned?
It is indeed possible that we may slowly be contaminating ourselves. Everyone has, at least once, seen or heard the TV commercial: “A cleaner dishwasher means cleaner dishes…“. It also means that dishwashers need to be cleaned too, like you would your kettle (even if it is only descaling from time to time), your bath tub or water purifier jug. Perhaps, we are becoming more and more complacent or perhaps, we need to be told what to do, but it is only fair to think that a dirty dishwasher won’t give your dishes that brand-new-sparkle or any sparkle at all.
Depending on how often you are using your dishwasher, probably once every 3 to 6 months you should use a dishwasher cleaner. You place a bottle of special detergent upside down in your dishwasher and you run an empty cycle (your dishwasher should be empty of any dishes, cutlery…. The less you use your dishwasher the more you should be concerned about cleaning it. Perhaps, keeping the door slightly opened could slow down the spread of fungi or other bacteria.
Using an anti-bacterial spray or ready-to-use wipes, clean the rubber of your dishwasher and focus on black spot, like you would your fridge. It is important to do it, and it is recommended to do it at least once a month. In commercial establishments, like restaurants, rubber seals are systematically swabbed by Environment health inspectors. It is the perfect playing ground for bacteria and fungi to develop, because no-one really thinks about doing it. I clean the seal of my fridge and frizzer every two weeks even if they look clean. And now, I am glad I do. Will start to clean the rubber of the dishwasher too, because, guess what? I did not know before…
How to protect yourself from mycotoxins.
While it is possible to be more resilient by building and supporting our immune system, it may be that some people are most sensitive to others, especially if your home is damp and mycotoxins are already an issue for you. In this case moving out is the best thing to do and to sanitise everything you take away with you (throw away rotten furniture, or bring mycotoxins into your new home).
Some air-filtering systems and using essential oils may offer some protection against mycotoxins; however, these are only effective against mycotoxins in the air, not on your clothes or inside your walls (e.g. behind your headboard or released from the wall by your head as you sleep).
Shower heads are also a major culprit in mycotoxins and tother toxins floating in the steam as you shower, toxic material that you breathe in and that can reach brain tissues almost immediately.
Find out more in Energise and Detox before Energise (out soon).
* following a recent survey done in the UK, most people don’t know about fire alarm and were they should be placed. They should be fixed to the ceiling and operational. NEVER REMOVE THE BATTERY, however, annoying it might be: IT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE!
Registered Naturopath, Nutritional Therapist, Iridologist, Lecturer, NLP practitioner and Personal Performance Coach.
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