Why the Obsession with Cleanliness Is Harming Our Immune System

Researchers say we live in a society obsessed with cleanliness, and that we associate sterilization with health and bacteria or parasites with disease. To some extent it is logical. The increase in life expectancy, during the 20th century is not due to the fight against cancer or cardiovascular diseases, but to the control of infectious diseases. But is there a negative impact on society about germs and being too clean?

Doctors say with every medical breakthrough, there are often unforeseen consequences, and perhaps we have reached a point where our fear of germs is causing more problems than it solves. When it comes to allergies coachella ca specialists point out that allergies and autoimmune diseases have increased dramatically.

There is a clearly inverse correlation between the level of ‘dirt’ or exposure to germs and the incidence of these ‘new’ diseases:

  • The richest countries have between 20 and 60 times more cases of asthma, rhino conjunctivitis and eczema than in less developed countries.
  • Living in the countryside, closer to animals and pollen, protects against asthma and allergies apparently due to the large number of endotoxins in these natural environment
  • Having more siblings (and therefore more exposure to germs) protects against pollen allergy.
  • The increased use of antibiotics in children is associated with more incidence of Crohn’s disease, colitis, asthma and eczema.

The Link To Allergies

Some in the Paleo community blame gluten, and other modern foods, for many of these ills, and celiac disease is another example of an autoimmune disorder that has increased significantly in recent decades. However, this does not explain why these allergies have multiplied in the twentieth century, when the incorporation into the diet of cereals with gluten, such as wheat, rye or barley, occurred several thousand years ago. There is something else at stake, or in this case, something less.

Doctors say our immune system evolved with parasites and bacteria. In the process of eliminating some enemies that made us sick, we have also eliminated many friends who helped our bodies. This concept, called by the experts is the “hygiene hypothesis.”

Our immune system, like the rest of the body, expects certain stimuli to run correctly. If we eliminate them, it gets confused, and our co-dependency relationship is severed. Researchers say our obsessive pursuit of cleanliness has broken this balance.

Is Dirt Good for Us?

Experts say that early exposure to endotoxins reduces the likelihood of developing an allergy later. Children have the habit of putting everything in their mouths, to the horror of their parents. However, this instinct evolved with us, and it can be useful. It is an additional way to educate the immune system.

Experts recommend simple solutions to boost the immune system like using antibiotics only when they are absolutely necessary and accompany them with probiotics. And escaping the city from time to time, visit the countryside for more exposure to friendly bacteria. Also minimizing certain foods like gluten, which can lead to allergies. While prevention may be the best strategy, exposure to bacteria can shape the immune system and educate our internal flora how to co-exist.

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