Why Your Home Should Be a Shoe-Free Zone

Establishing a “no shoe” policy in your home is good for your health.  In one easy step, you can reduce your risk of injury, infection, and exposure to harmful chemicals. Kick those shoes off at the door!

Here are 5 reasons why a barefoot home is good for you:

1. It decreases your exposure to toxins.

Shoes pick up and carry toxins and chemicals into your home. Pesticides, fertilizers, and industrial pollutants are some of the substances that shoes carry into your home.

These residues become sources of repeated exposure to children or pets who play on the floor. The EPA conducted a “doormat study” showing that 60% less lead dust and other harmful chemicals were brought into the home just by using a front doormat and wiping your shoes off. 

But why settle for 60%? Leaving your shoes at the door ensures that you will largely eliminate the amount of toxic residues that you track into your home. 

2. It decreases the amount bacteria you carry into your house.

A study by Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona, found an average of 421,000 units of bacteria are housed on the outside of one shoe. Some of the bacteria isolated included E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Serratia ficaria.  

These are dangerous bacteria that cause serious infections. And no matter where you live, if you walk through public restrooms or down the same sidewalks as neighborhood dogs, there’s a good chance you’ve stepped through fecal matter. Having a “no shoe” policy will protect you and your loved ones from potential exposure to harmful bacteria.

3. It decreases your likelihood of foot infections.

Athlete's foot, or tinea pedis, thrives in dark, moist and warm environments, making prime targets out of sweaty feet inside shoes. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “Athlete's foot does not occur among people who traditionally go barefoot. Moisture, sweating and lack of proper ventilation of the feet present the perfect setting for the fungus of athlete's foot to grow.”

4. No more stinky foot smell!

When your feet sweat within the enclosed space of a shoe, it creates a ripe environment for bacteria like Brevibacteria and Staphylococcus epidermidis to grow and feast on the dead skin between your toes and on the soles of your feet. 

As these bacteria metabolize your dead skin, foot odor is produced as a by-product. Brevibacteria and Staphylococcus epidermis are some of the same bacteria that are responsible for giving many types of cheese their pungent smell. 

5. It decreases your risk of injury.

The foot is a complex structure that is made out of 26 bones, 33 joints, 120 muscles and ligaments, and over 7,000 nerve endings. Working synergistically, these features allow us to support our body weight, move with ease, maintain our balance, and they also provide shock absorbance.  

Shoes interfere with this natural process and can promote plantar fasciitis, hallux valgus, bunions, ingrown toenails, corns, and Morton's neuroma.  Walking barefoot strengthens the musculature in your feet, ankles and calves which, in turn, helps prevent injury and shoe-related degenerative disease.

A couple of ideas to help make your house a shoe free zone:
  • Create a shoe storage unit near the door where you can place your shoes as you walk inside.
  • If you have guests who feel uncomfortable taking their shoes off, provide them with a pair of indoor house slippers or surgical booties to slip over their shoes.

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About the Author

Alejandra Carrasco, M.D. is the founder of NOURISH , an innovative medical practice in Austin, TX that attends to all aspects of an individual’s life, including health, family, community, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, self-care, and renewal.

"Dr. Alex" wants to Revive Primary Care and she is passionate about helping patients tap into the awesome wisdom of the body through integrative and functional medicine. She is board certified in Family Medicine, as well as Integrative and Holistic Medicine, and has spent hundreds of hours studying nutrition, functional medicine, and integrative medicine.  

Her ultimate goal is to give people the tools, inspiration, and information to live vibrant and nourished lives.

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