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Of these, which has been the most beneficial to improved health and overall well-being of humanity?
2. Air conditioning
3. Sanitation laws and plumbing
5. Adequate dental hygiene
6. The discovery of alcohol distillation
7. Soap and water
There is no doubt in my mind that good, old-fashioned soap and water; and, plenty of them are the two best preventatives to sickness and disease. Cleanliness, especially of the face and hands, is probably the best defense we have against bugs, viruses; and, other disease-causing agents.
I can eliminate air conditioning from the conversation. That stuff just recirculates old air and my sinuses are always better when I open windows.
Soap & water have been around forever - just that people didn't use them as much.
On a big scale - my top two would be sanitation and penicillin. One because dirty water causes all manner of sickness. The other because bacteria are responsible for much of the rest.
Out of those things listed I'd opt for Sanitation laws and plumbing as the most effective change affecting the health of people living in large towns or cities. Before it became commonplace there were always frequent outbreaks of cholera. When Londoners stopped dumping their sewage and other waste into the streets and alleys and the huge network of sewers and drains were put it, the quality of life of, what was then, the greatest city in the world, went up in leaps and bounds.
We've still got a long way to go with this, of course. Londoners promptly started draining all that waste water and sewage into the River Thames.
As for the others: pencillin saved millions of lived but became the forerunner for today's 'super-bugs.' Airconditioning is good but costs the world in pollution as we rip up our coal reserves to keep them going.
Pasteurization, yes. Good. But not as big a deal as sanitation. Dental hygiene. Yes, Good, but once again, not as worldly effective as No3.
Grog. Well...Like many it is both a pleasure and a curse. Won't go there.
Soap and water. You can actually take a shower and a bath witout the former, so it is not an essential.
I agree with pippap about soap and water - being clean, very important. Sanitation of course is probably the most important globally rather than individually.
Dental health I think is next because bad teeth and periodontal disease actually are linked to heart disease and other serious health issues.
While antibiotics certainly have their place, one could argue they are not as helpful long-term, because over time and with chronic overuse, we have created "super bugs" and resistant strains of bacteria that are killing people with infections now. it kind of turned into a vicious circle.
Soap and water. Because they remove germs, dirt, etc., before/after nearly everything we do. This has helped us to avoid many illnesses & viruses - or at least worse conditions of them.
Soap and water, pasteurization and penicilin. These have all brought preventive care and the treatment of previously deadly conditions to a whole new level.
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