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Originally Published by Newsweek

Taking your shoes off at the door as you enter a home is a common practice in parts of Asia and other cultures. But one doctor has warned that it’s best to leave your shoes outside the door because of some serious health risks, including “severe gut infections.”

Dr. Saurabh Sethi is a gastroenterologist who was trained at Harvard and Stanford. He told Newsweek that he started leaving his shoes outside his home after becoming a doctor because he was “worried about getting harmful germs from the hospital, clinics and surgery center to my home where I have little kids.”

“Bringing shoes indoors can transfer outdoor pollutants like pesticides, lead and bacteria onto floors,” he said. “These contaminants may pose health risks, especially for young children who play on the floor.”

Sethi, who has been a physician for 20 years, has his own gastroenterology practice in Fremont, California. He recently shared a video from his Instagram account, @doctor.sethi, last month to explain why he “never” brings shoes into his home.

“Stop wearing shoes inside your home,” he said in the video. “As a doctor, I strictly adhere to a no shoes inside policy at home. The reason is that shoes can harbor numerous toxins, including pesticides, chemicals, viruses, bacteria and heavy metals like lead.”

A May 2008 study released by the Cleaning Industry Research Institute found “large numbers of bacteria” on both the bottom and inside of shoes.

The study, conducted by Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona, found an average of 421,000 units of bacteria on the outside of the shoe and 2,887 on the inside.

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infection prevention