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“What do you do for work?” my Uber driver asked me recently.
“I’m a health and wellness reporter,” I responded
“So, you’re a vegetarian, aren’t you?” he asked.
No I’m not, but he wasn’t entirely wrong. I’m a pescatarian now, but I was a vegetarian for years before deciding to eat seafood on occasion.
Though I made the decision to cut meat from my diet way back in 2017 before reporting on health and wellness, his assumption raised a really interesting question. Just how many life changes have I made as a result of my health reporting?
I spent some time thinking about it all and discovered that there are in fact three things that I do differently now, compared to six months ago when I first started reporting on health here at CNBC Make It.
1. I air-dry my toothbrush
Before interviewing Dr. Michelle Kelman, a pediatric dentist, about how often people should replace their toothbrushes, I thought using a toothbrush holder was the best way to protect my teeth cleaner from germs.
The idea of leaving my toothbrush uncovered in the bathroom where myself, and four others, handle business, seemed far more harmful for my health to me.
But I learned from Dr. Kelman that if you’re not letting your toothbrush air-dry, you’re actually increasing the likelihood of bacteria building up.
I found a happy medium by choosing to air-dry my toothbrush in my bedroom and storing it in its holder once it’s completely dry.
2. I take new precautions when decorating for the holidays
When my family and I were putting up our Christmas tree this year, there was a warning on the box that cautioned about a potential risk of cancer and reproductive harm. We’d never seen anything like it on our holiday decorations before.
I read on and learned that the warning was for the holiday lights that were built in to the tree. I just knew I’d have to investigate it. While researching, I discovered that most holiday lights have lead and phthalates on their wiring, which can be very harmful for young children and pregnant women.
A senior toxicologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Fred Henretig, suggests washing your hands after putting up your holiday lights, especially before eating or preparing meals.
Though my family and I would typically snack while decorating our tree, I didn’t this year. I’ve also decided to wash my hands immediately after handling any decorative lights in the future.
3. I shower with the fan on to stave off mold
Consider this an exclusive! A finding that actually didn’t end up in my story about how the state of your home may be impacting your health, has changed the way I shower every day.
As you may know, most bathrooms include built-in fans that typically turn on when you flip the light switch. I used to think their primary function was to fan out odors.
What I learned is that the fan in your bathroom plays an important part in lowering the chances of mold developing in your shower and elsewhere in the bathroom, says Dr. Andrej Spec, an infectious disease specialist.
Spec also recommends leaving your shower curtain open after bathing to reduce moisture that can breed mold.
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