Clean Can Be Bad

Clean Can Be Bad
My mother always said, “You have to eat a bushel of dirt before you die.” Of course, I thought she was just joking. But it turns out she was more correct than either of us knew. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention at the time.  I chose instead to heed another of her favorite sayings, which was "cleanliness is next to godliness." I never cooked an unpeeled carrot, or an unscrubbed potato. I carefully washed and spun dry every leaf of lettuce I ate. I guess that's where I went wrong. It turns out that the microbes present in the dirt that got washed down my drain were the very microbes my gut needed to create a strong, healthy digestive system ― where a huge portion of our  immune system resides. As an adult with severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), I wish I'd been a little less godly. I attended a lecture about microbes (germs) last week. Harbor-UCLA Medical Center's chief of molecular medicine, Michael Yeaman, PhD, referred to the “hygiene hypothesis.”  It is a well-researched theory that has shown that lack of early exposure to microorganisms (commonly found in dirt) contributes to the increased prevalence of allergies and autoimmune disorders today. Sometimes, bacteria are good. Being raised in an overly clean environment actually suppresses the natural development of our immune systems. Incidentally, if your mother, like mine, told you to keep away from dogs because they have germs, she was wrong about that, too. According to a study done in Finland, children raised with pets have fewer colds, half as many ear infections, and need fewer antibiotics. Unfamiliar with this theory, but focused on prevention of the illnesses that seem attracted to me like a magnet, I jumped on the bandwagon when anti-bacterial soaps first hit the market. T
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