This isn't the first time Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori has made headlines. "Can hotpot burn H. pylori to death?" someone recently inquired of me. This is an important question and we should not underestimate this bacteria. Especially those who are about to cook hotpot/steamboat!
Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria that has been around for millions of years and is rooted in the surface of the stomach mucosa in humans. It is also classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Helicobacter pylori infection is very common in asian countries. It is found in as high as 50% of the population China and 30% in Singapore.
Hotpot and H. pylori
"Faecal-oral transmission" and "mouth-to-mouth transmission" are the two primary ways H. pylori is passed from person to person. H. pylori is a highly infectious bacteria and if individuals do not pay attention to hygiene during meals, do not utilize typical chopsticks, and share plates with each other, they are vulnerable to infection.
Cross-contamination may result from using the same chopsticks for cooking raw and cooked dishes. When you use the same chopsticks for both, you run the risk of cross-contamination if the food is not completely cooked or if the raw and cooked foods are served on the same pair of chopsticks. This can happen when it comes to hotpot meals.
Can H. pylori cause stomach cancer?
With the increased availability of medical information, many organisations have started including H. pylori testing into their health examinations, educating more and more individuals about this infection. At the same time, many individuals are suffering from "H. pylori anxiety" - a fear of developing stomach cancer.
H. pylori has been linked to a variety of diseases, including peptic ulcers, chronic gastritis, advanced gastric cancer, gastric MALT lymphoma, iron deficiency anaemia, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), as well as peptic ulcers and chronic gastritis.
At present, numerous causative factors for gastric cancer are thought to exist, with genetic and dietary patterns being the most common. H. pylori infection is just one of the causes. It has been discovered that most individuals do not have any symptoms of H. pylori infection and can clear it on their own by depending on their own immune system, so don't panic too much!
How to prevent H. pylori infection?
The following six methods are recognised worldwide as being effective in preventing H. pylori infection.
- For family dinners, start using common chopsticks or meal sharing. Chinese families traditionally eat their meals on a single plate, and not using communal chopsticks is generally likely to spread H. pylori
- Parents should not attempt to eat or chew food with their mouths or blow cold food before feeding it to children
- Disinfect all of your dishes at home on a regular basis. H. pylori may be killed with great efficacy by using a dishwasher or boiling utensils in a pot
- Avoid raw food and untreated water
- Wash your hands frequently
- Don't share your toiletries and change your toothbrush at least once every three months.