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Get Dirty

We, as a modern people, are scared to death of germs. We know and live by the mantra that “Germs make us sick.” Figuratively and literally. The cleaner we can get the world the better, right?

Absolutely not. This disconnection with our natural evolutionary environment just might be the reason we get sick. The obsessive avoidance of germs is not keeping us safe and helping us get stronger as a species. It is making us weaker.

Hygiene Hypothesis/Old Friends Hypothesis

This basically suggests that humans have evolved interacting with bacteria, both friendly and pathogenic, and as we have limited our exposure to bacteria we have essentially degraded our body’s ecosystem. With limiting the total exposure to bacteria we have also limited the friendly bacteria that helps make up our gut ecosystem and run our immune system. The more we limit exposure to germs and pathogens, the less practice we get at both determining good vs. bad and the less effective we are at fighting off unwanted germs. Getting dirty all these years has, in essence, been “working out” our immune system. Now, by avoiding germs, sterilizing everything and never getting dirty, we are letting our immune systems become couch potatoes. Not a good thing.

The body follows a use it or lose it paradigm. If we don’t practice, early and often, we will not get better at harboring good and eliminating bad bacteria. We need to get dirty to get stronger.

Here’s a bit from George Carlin that sums it up nicely. Although it has some profanity (warning) I think it is so true…

Thanks for reading, have a dirty day!

For more details on the Hygiene/Old Friends Hypothesis click here. Chris Kresser also did a nice write-up on the topic a few weeks ago.

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