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As clean as we try to keep our homes, there are prime areas for harmful bacteria to grow which can weaken our immune system and make us sick. Here are some common areas in our homes where bacteria thrive and how to avoid it.

Your kitchen sink can surprisingly be more germ filled than your toilet. Food particles from plates left to soak or rinsed from dishes on their way to the dishwasher can serve as a breeding ground for illness-causing bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella. They can get on your hands or spread to foods. It’s recommended to clean your sink and drain plug once a day with a mixture of bleach and water. Your first thought might be “who has time for that” but by keeping an already prepared mixture in a spray bottle nearby-you can easily make this part of your routine at the end of the day.

Your salt and pepper shaker is another breeding ground for germs. We grab it to season our food while cooking or at the table but no one thinks to wash their hands before doing so. Eliminate any germs left behind by wiping them clean when you clear the table after dinner.

Your toothbrush is another place that moisture loving bacteria like to hang out. Putting your toothbrush somewhere that it can air dry will avoid this. Don’t store it too close to the toilet though. Research done in the 1970s found that flushing the toilet sends a spray of bacteria- and virus-contaminated water droplets into the air. These germs can float around in the bathroom for at least two hours after each flush before landing on surfaces — including your toothbrush. Close the toilet lid before flushing and replace your toothbrush often to lower your contamination risk.
It shouldn’t be surprising that your TV remote is another big source of germs.

After all, everyone in the house touches it and who thinks to wash their hands before or after touching the remote? Cleaning it routinely with the same bleach/water mixture mentioned early or an alcohol wipe will eliminate germs and stop them from infecting everyone in the house.

Another source of germs is your computer keyboard and mouse because it’s another place we don’t think about washing our hands before using. More germs are added if we are eating or drinking near our computers. In a study done by a British consumer group, researchers swabbed keyboards for germs and found a host of potentially harmful bacteria, including E. coli and staph. Four of 33 sampled keyboards had enough germs to be considered health hazards and one had levels of germs five times higher than that found on a toilet seat! Cleaning your keyboard with a bleach or alcohol wipe periodically will kill any germs and keep harmful bacteria from growing.

When we take a bath to get clean we may not be doing it in the cleanest area. One study found staphylococcus bacteria in 26% of the tubs tested. Another study had even worse findings for whirlpool tubs. Forty-three water samples from whirlpools were tested and all 43 had mild to dangerous bacterial growth. Almost all showed bacteria from fecal matter; 81% had fungi, and 34% contained staph bacteria. The reason whirlpool tubs are so dirty has to do with the lining of the pipes. Water tends to get trapped in the pipes which becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. When you turn on the jets, the germy water spouts out into the tub where you’re soaking. Cleaning and disinfecting your tub with bleach or bathroom cleaner after bathing and drying it with a clean towel will cut down on bacteria growth.

For whirlpool tubs, the best way to prevent bacteria from accumulating is to clean out the pipes before use. It’s not very practical since you’d have to fill the tub with a bleach solution, run the jets, empty it, then refill it and run the jets to rinse the bleach out, empty it and finally refill to soak in the tub. Unfortunately, the pipes are a breeding ground for germs.

So there you have it, as clean as you think your home is, there are still germs and bacteria lurking if you don’t already routinely clean these areas of your home. Routinely cleaning these areas will keep germs from spreading and bacteria from bogging down your immune system.

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Lemongrass has long been widely used in Asian countries for its medicinal properties and also for cooking. It’s a tropical herb in no relation to lemons other than its strong lemon-like aroma and taste. While the aroma from the plant is widely used as a natural mosquito repellent, most in the US don’t enjoy the many other benefits of this fragrant and edible plant.

Lemongrass is packed with cancer preventing antioxidant power houses vitamin A and C. Vitamin A ensures a healthy immune system, healthy skin and healthy mucous membranes. It also promotes strong bones and teeth, promotes good vision, and healthy soft tissues.

Vitamin C is important for a healthy immune system, healthy skin, proper wound healing, regulating blood sugar levels and prevents the signs of aging. It also prevents cancer, lowers cholesterol, prevents heart attack and stroke, lowers risk of neurological disorders, improves blood flow and helps us better deal with stress.

Lemongrass also contains folic acid which plays a vital role in many bodily functions, including cell repair and maintenance, DNA synthesis, amino acid metabolism, and the formation of leukocytes and erythrocytes. It prevents birth defects, obesity and various cancers, including colon cancer, as well as preventing heart disease.

It also contains magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and manganese. Magnesium helps with the transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, energy production, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.

Zinc ensures a healthy immune system, prevents cancer, proper endocrine function and helps with maintaining proper hormone levels. It also supports a healthy reproductive system, improves cardiovascular health, prevents diabetes, boosts brain function and prevents depression.

The health benefits of copper include proper growth of the body, efficient utilization of iron, proper enzymatic reactions, as well as improved health of connective tissues, hair, and eyes. It’s also important for preventing premature aging, increasing energy production, regulating heart rhythm, balancing thyroid glands, reducing symptoms of arthritis, proper wound healing, increasing red blood cell formation, and reducing cholesterol.

Iron is important for carrying oxygen to blood cells, healthy skin, proper brain function and muscle health. Potassium helps regulate heart rhythm, maintain water balance within the body, lowers cholesterol and reduces blood pressure. Calcium promotes strong bones and teeth, helps with weight management, prevents cancer and promotes heart health. Manganese promotes healthy bones, bone metabolism, and helping to create essential enzymes for building bones. It’s also important for the formation of connective tissues, absorption of calcium, proper functioning of the thyroid gland and sex hormones, regulation of blood sugar level, and metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.

It’s amazing that with all these benefits in one plant and yet it’s still not a popular staple in the average American diet.

Although dried figs are available throughout the year, there is nothing like the unique taste and texture of fresh figs. California figs are available from June through September and boast a sweet and unique taste while packing in an amazing amount of health benefits.

Figs are a good source of potassium which is the third most abundant mineral in human body and is a powerful food source for maintaining good health. Potassium helps to control blood pressure, provides relief from stroke, heart and kidney disorders, anxiety and stress, as well as enhanced muscle strength, metabolism, water balance, electrolytic functions and nervous system.

They are a good source of dietary fiber. Fiber and fiber-rich foods have a positive effect on weight management because they help you feel fuller for longer. Fiber also helps control blood sugar levels, lowers cholesterol, maintains a healthy digestive system, lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke, prevents kidney stones and helps maintain healthy skin.

Figs are also a good source of vitamins A, C, E and K. Vitamin A is key for good vision, a healthy immune system, maintaining a healthy nervous system, cancer prevention, maintaining healthy skin and cell growth. It also has antioxidant properties that neutralize free radicals in the body that cause tissue and cellular damage.

Vitamin C, another antioxidant powerhouse, is also important for a healthy immune system, cancer prevention, regulating blood sugar levels, preventing heart disease and stroke, prevents cataracts, maintaining healthy skin, reduces the risk of neurological disorders and helps us better deal with stress.

Vitamin E, yet another antioxidant, helps protect against toxins such as air pollution, premenstrual syndrome, eye disorders such as cataracts, neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. It also helps us maintain healthy skin, prevents cancer, reduces cholesterol levels, prevents blood clots, alleviates fatigue and strengthens capillary walls.

Vitamin K helps maintain bone health, prevents blood clots, helps maintain healthy skin, helps with wound healing, prevents cancer and prevents heart disease. Vitamin K has also been shown to be essential for the synthesis of sphingolipids (a crucial fat) that helps form the myelin sheath or outer wrapping around the nerve. These crucial fats are essential for proper brain and nervous system function. This is beneficial in preventing Alzheimer disease.

Figs also contain calcium which prevents osteoporosis, helps with weight management, prevents cancer and is heart healthy. They also contain Tryptophan which induces good sleep and helps get rid of sleep disorders such as insomnia.

If you are already a fan of figs-now you know just how good they are for you and if you’re not a fan, maybe now is the time to give them another try!