Getting dirty

by Christina on September 19, 2016

My 2 year old loves being in the dirt, loves getting sand all over him, and loves eating herbs straight from our garden — perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to stop him. We wash his hands right when he comes inside before eating — maybe we shouldn’t.

Check out this recent article from the Wall Street Journal:


“Our anti-microbe mission has been accompanied, in industrialized countries, by an explosion in the prevalence of chronic noninfectious diseases and disorders. Diabetes, allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel diseases, autoimmune diseases, autism, obesity and certain types of cancer are at an all-time high. The incidence of some of these disorders is doubling every 10 years, and they are starting to appear sooner in life, often in childhood.”

“Never before in human history have babies and children grown up so cleanly, and our diets have lost many of the elements most crucial to the health of our guts. We have become very bad hosts to our microbes.”

“Our health depends to a large degree on maintaining a robust and diverse community of microorganisms in our bodies—and establishing good gut-health as children is especially important.”

The article’s authors, Dr. Finlay and Dr. Arrieta, remind us that this gut microbiota is our “new organ” that scientists are now discovering. They highlight a few practical things we can start doing now to help the health of our kids’ microbiota organ (see here for post on infant microbiota):

  • Spend more time outside: let our kids play in the dirt and sand and with bugs

“By preventing babies and children from following their innate impulse to get dirty, we shield them from the microbial exposure that is essential for the development of a healthy immune system.”

  • Eat a high VARIETY diet with more fiber, veggies, legumes, and grains. Add fermented foods when possible (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut
  • Avoid antibiotics when possible (and take probiotics if given antibiotics)

“Research now suggests a link between the use of antibiotics in early childhood and problems such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, allergies, autism and inflammatory bowel disease.”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Chris September 22, 2016 at 2:10 am

Whoever thought that cleanliness might have a dark side!


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