Microbiologist Marie-Claire Arrieta is co-author of a new book called Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Our Children from an Oversanitized World. From Bernie’s Unspun, comes this article interviewing Arrieta who has written a book about what is being called ‘the hygeiene hypothesis’: https://www.thestar.com/life/2016/1…otics-to-develop-immunity-scientists-say.html
An excerpt from the interview:
“The hygiene hypothesis tries to explain why allergies, as well as obesity and inflammatory bowel disease and even autism, these are all diseases on the rise. And this is not explained by genes alone. Our genes simply do not change that fast. Research is consistently showing that it’s these changes in early life exposure to microbes that are driving the rise of these diseases. The lack of microbial exposure early in life that is necessary for our immune systems to be trained properly and to eventually be able to avoid the development of these diseases.”
They discuss the role of microbes from our environment in teaching our immune system how to react to substances and microorganisms from the ‘outside’. Too much sanitation in a child’s early life, according to the theory, can be harmful to a child’s future health, leading to an increased risk of chronic disease.
They cite evidence such as this: Kids growing up on farms or whose families have a dog, have less of a risk of developing asthma. Asthma risk is also decreased if the pacifier is cleaned in the parent’s mouth. In view of the hygiene hypothesis, other links are being explored to disease like inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, obesity and autism.
Throw away the sanitizers? Let them play in puddles?
In my own parenting experience, kids gravitate toward puddles, mudholes and other sources of dirt. Embracing this while maintaining basic hygiene is one of those balancing acts of parenthood that can lead to either sanity and happy kids who have had their puddle-dreams realized or much anxiety over spilled anything and restriction of a child’s exploration. Clearly, a child who is about to explore a cliff or their sibling’s just-removed dirty diaper is beyond what most of us would sanction, for fairly obvious parental reasons. However, I recall soothing many parental anxieties about their kids joining mine in a nearby stream by letting them know that this was a regular occurrence in our household and that we had a tub waiting for all the little explorers once they (or we) were done for the day. So, perhaps allowing the explorations that are not immediate health hazards while having regular clean-ups to take the mess off, especially prior to meals and after using the washroom or something else particularly dirty, is a compromise well worth considering; without necessarily adding lots of interim clean-ups. As always, it seems, being conscious of our choices matters.
Thanks again, Bernie!
This article was originally posted on transients’ Roundtable Forum by Lila, co-moderator of our Health, Somatics, Crystals & General Well-being board.