Cleaning produce; medication related dry-mouth

Created date

May 4th, 2020

Robert Stewart, M.D.

Medical Director, Wind Crest Highlands Ranch, Colo. 

Q: I rinse most fruits and vegetables before eating them, but is that enough to remove bacteria or toxins?  

A: Any fresh produce can have bacteria or pesticides and other toxins, even if it’s grown at home, organically, or found at a farmer’s market. So, it’s a good idea to thoroughly wash everything under cool running tap water and then dry it with a paper towel or clean dishcloth to reduce any contaminants. Use a scrub brush on firm produce, such as cucumbers. Even if you plan to peel something, you should still wash it to reduce the chance that contaminants are transferred from your peeler or knife. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also suggests that you avoid soap, detergents, or commercial produce washes as they have not been shown to be any more effective than plain water. If, however, an item is in a package and the label indicates it is prewashed, the FDA says it should be safe to eat without additional washing.


Q: I have a very dry mouth; and I think my medications are the reason. What’s the best treatment? 

A: Numerous medications can in fact cause dry mouth, including blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and over-the-counter medications as well. Dry mouth is more than a nuisance—it is associated with difficulty speaking or swallowing; tooth decay; and mouth infections. Common treatments include sipping water, sucking on sugarless candy, and chewing gum throughout the day. You should also avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. Over-the-counter saliva substitutes and rinses are available to further ease dry mouth. Because certain health conditions can also cause dry mouth, see your health care provider for an evaluation. Your medications might need some adjustment, and your provider can recommend the most effective treatment for you. 

Health and wellness experts practice exclusively at Erickson Living-managed communities all over the U.S. Dr. Stewart received his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in College Station, Tex., and his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Tex. He completed his residency at Floyd County Hospital in Rome, Ga. Board-certified in family medicine, he joined Wind Crest in November 2013.