While it is no doubt true that cleanliness is next to Godliness, obsessive avoidance of germs and dirt can be detrimental to our children’s health. Exposure to germs and antigens is necessary to stimulate and maintain a strong immune system. Check out Why Dirt is Good: 5 Ways to Make Germs Your Friends by Mary Ruebush, PhD, for more reasons why dirt is good for us and our children.
Dirt is not Dirty
(NaturalNews) At present, our culture is overly obsessive about germs, cleanliness, and hygiene. Parents are constantly washing their children’s hands, using antibacterial soap, alcohol tinged wipes or changing them the second they have dirt on their clothes. It is natural for children to be as close to nature as possible and the research is out about whether there is a connection between getting dirty and a strong immune system. They have found that this modern obsession with germs and cleanliness might be leading to the rise in allergies, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease.
What is it about a child's attraction to dirt?
According to Mary Ruebush PhD, author of Why Dirt is Good: 5 Ways to Make Germs Your Friends, attraction is based on millions of years of evolution. Just like any other muscle in our body, the immune system needs to be exercised in order to fully develop and become strong enough to resist illness and disease. Eating dirt as a child turns out to be the ideal training to build your immune system’s overall fitness."What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment," Mary Ruebush wrote "Not only does this allow for ‘practice’ of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored." Children who grow up on farms and are exposed to all sorts of bugs, worms and natural elements have demonstrably fewer allergies and autoimmune problems than urban children who spend most of their time indoors. Playing outside barefoot every now and again and digging in the dirt more often would do wonders for the health of today’s youngsters.
Our Natural Instinct is to Love Dirt
New research says that it is possible that children are ‘too’ clean and would be better off sticking to their natural instincts There was a study done in 2012, where researchers tested what would happen to mice if they were bred to lack stomach bacteria and how it would effect their immune system. It found that exposure early in life to microbes helped to train certain immune cells to resist disease later in life. Exposure to those same microbes as an adult did not have the same effect. The immune cells affected were generally those in the lungs and colon due to hyperactivity in T cells, which is similar to that found in humans with asthma. The most important point from the research is the idea that during the early years of life, there are some crucial biological developments that happen which cannot be recreated later on in life and building a strong immune system is one of them.
Playing in Dirt Builds a Strong Immune System
By no means should you feed your child spoonfuls of dirt, but free yourself of the anxiety. People are so worried about their children catching a cold or flu that they are obsessively focused on whether their child is clean and germ-free. However, this seems to be against the natural rhythm of life. Science has proven that dirt is beneficial to a child’s life. Children love dirt because they instinctively know it is good for them in order to grow up having strong immune systems. We can now relax and trust that our children will actually be healthier the dirtier they get. Take a deep breath and enjoy watching the joy your child has playing in dirt while knowing that they are building their intuitive side as well as a strong immune system.