If you look under the sinks of most households you’ll find an impressive selection of sprays and soaps, all promising to rid your home and your body of so-called dangerous bacteria. Many moms and dads, wanting to do the right thing, regularly slather their children with anti-bacterial wipes. We fill the air with anti-bacterial mists and scrub our countertops with an untold number of germ-fighting chemicals in the hopes of decontaminating every aspect of our bacteria-filled world.
But, is it necessary? And even more importantly, is it safe?
An interesting article on WebMD titled, “Is dirt good for kids? Are parents keeping things too clean for their kids’ good?” discusses what is being called the “hygiene hypothesis.” It basically means that if you aren’t exposed to dirt and bugs early in life, you are more likely to suffer from allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases.
Dr. Mercola on his website discusses the dangers of triclosan, the common chemical in anti-bacterial soaps. He says triclosan has been linked to harmful effects especially in children. It can alter hormones and could interfere with fetal development. Does this affect a lot of pregnant women? Researchers collected urine samples from pregnant women in Brooklyn, New York. Triclosan was found in 100% of all those samples.
It looks as if we have gotten lost. We seem to have bought into this idea that the elimination of all germs and bacteria will create health. In fact, many of the germs we encounter are not only friendly, but are actually necessary for life.
When we expose children to these organisms they build their immune systems. The immune system learns which cells are foreign and dangerous, and which ones are actually the self. When this process is interrupted, the immune system fails to develop properly. Then it cannot distinguish the body’s own cells from destructive invaders. This leads to allergies and autoimmune conditions. On top of that, at the first sign of any symptoms, we run out and find something to suppress them.
When I was young, if someone had an allergy, it was a BIG DEAL. You only heard about autoimmune conditions rarely on the news. Now, I am sure you have heard of many people who have some form of allergy or immune condition.
Mary Ruebush, Ph.D. says, “Nature has given you an incredibly elaborate and powerful immune system, but you have to train it well and exercise it often — with a lifetime of exposure to plenty of dirt and even the occasional bout of illness.”
Dr. Ruebush brings up the vital piece of information here: we already have an immune system. And it works, as long as we are not constantly interfering with it. It develops correctly when exposed to our natural environment, doing the things that children do, naturally.
Since when have we gotten so afraid of every little germ, ache, pain, sniffle and discomfort? Why have we completely abandoned our inner wisdom and put all our trust in pill-filled plastic bottles?
Can we continue to take the kill-everything approach without ever addressing the role of our massive over-exposure to unhealthy, nutrient-deficient, processed foods, toxic chemicals and environmental pollutants?
We know that constantly interfering with the immune system, especially in children, makes us more likely to develop allergies, auto-immune conditions and inflammation as adults.
We know that exposure to most bacteria and germs is not only safe, but also essential for the integrity of the immune system.
So it becomes a choice. Do we want to live in an over-sanitized yet deadly world, where we have weakened ourselves to the point of being unable to deal with normal challenges? Or can we take steps, in line with credible research, as well as in line with our own intelligence and common sense?
Of course we can. Step one is to not be so afraid of everything. Give your body a chance to grow and develop with the small things, and it will be better equipped to handle the big things. In our home, over time we gradually eliminated all unnatural cleaning and beauty products. We didn’t do it all once. But as each bottle ran out, it was replaced with a natural, organic and toxin-free product. These products last a long time, and a lot of them I can make myself for a lot less than buying expensive chemicals.
Now it makes me smile to think of my days as a child spent in the sand box, digging in the earth and playing outside. Yes, I had to wash my hands before dinner, but with just plain old soap. I always loved playing in the dirt. Today I see just how good it was for my body and my spirit. Allergies? No. Auto-immune conditions? None.
What is the take away here? Let’s just start with small steps, rebuilding our confidence and understanding of our amazing bodies. They look after us so well, 24-hours a day, in spite of the regular stress and abuse we place upon them. Also beware of using all those chemical soaps and cleaners.
Remember to check in at DrGloriane.com for tips and tools on how to replace or make your own alternatives to dangerous cleaning and beauty products.
You can also check out this amazing recipe from Katrina Mayer on how to make your own toothpaste with no nasties:
And most importantly, sometimes it’s good to get dirty.