Do you really only have 5 seconds to retrieve that cookie from the floor ?

the five second dashMmmmmm…. you’re about to bite into a delectable delicacy and plop, it falls to the ground.

Do you pick it up ?

If you subscribe to the 5 second rule, then you drop to the ground as quickly as possible, to swoop up your prized morsel, BEFORE it is contaminated.

So what happens in that 5 seconds. More than you think…..

“Contamination” is instantaneous

Bacteria are not in the habit of napping.

If something to eat “falls from the sky” in front of them, or more likely on top of them, they’re pretty quick off the starting block. That food item IS CONTAMINATED.

And shaking it or wiping it is not going to shake off most of those bacteria – they’re holding tight.

However, the degree of contamination is not just dependent on time…

The nature of the DROP

Exactly “who” ends up on the dropped item, is not only a function of contact time, but depends on

  • what was dropped, soft and squishy is more vulnerable than something that is solid
  • what it was dropped on i.e. a squeaky clean or filthy dirty surface, makes a big difference
  • plain old luck

It’s the luck of the floor

Most bacteria, even bad guys, find it quite difficult to overcome your body’s myriad of defence systems.

Nearly all the bacteria are nuked by the acidic environment of your stomach, only those with special acid resistant raincoats and wellies, move through to the intestine. The few that make it, find themselves outnumbered, by the good guys and outgunned by an immune system on the prowl.

To launch a full scale attack and make you SICK – is a serious challenge, which only a handful of bacteria can achieve, when they are outnumbered.

It is a numbers game…..

To pack a punch and do some serious damage, typically, at least 10 000 or more, little guys have to slip past the GUT’s security and then plot and scheme, in a co-ordinated fashion, to bring you down.

A dropped knife or cookie, picked up smartly, is unlikely to pick up 10 000 plus bacteria …. so unless it is a particularly vicious bug or your body’s defence system has been compromised, the odds that it will make your sick , are really low.

In fact, since most bacteria are absolutely harmless, eating them will just add a minuscule bit of extra protein to your bite.

Weighing up the risk ?

So when should you pick it up and when should you let it go ?

Evaluate the risk by considering the “dropped”, the “surface” and the time….

  • a potato crisp, which is hard on a “clean” table for 3 minutes, is low risk
  • a slice of cheese, which is soft, on a dirty pavement for a minute, the risk is a little higher, especially if there are bits of gung stuck on
  • a hard sweet on the floor of a public rest room (clean or otherwise), it is seriously dirty so 5 seconds is high risk

A little dirt is good for you

I am not suggesting you deliberately throw your food and cutlery on the floor, to pick up a few extra bugs, so you can give your immune system a workout and lower your risk of auto-immune disorders.

But, chill, a little dirt is unlikely to kill you or your kid, it probably is actually good for you, because it introduces a little bacterial diversity to your microflora and may improve your love life.

NOTE : Bugs in food can cause serious illness – these are not casual visitors picked up in a flash, they’ve bugs that have settled in and set up house, so the numbers per bite, are high enough to bite you.

Interested in learning more about the chemistry how bacteria change your chemistry  ?

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Further reading

man the hatches flu bugs in town gut bacteria controlling brain colon being cleansed
You need to seek out coughing and sneezing displays from a distance How do you plead ? Not guilty – my bacteria made me do it… Should you periodically clean out your colon ?

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

balance eicosanoids rein in insulin dial down stress sleep vitamin D microflora think
Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

Hire Dr Sandy from a Spoonful of Science to be the keynote speaker at your next event.

Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below

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