One with the Earth. From sun to soil. Macroclimate to microorganism. Connected.
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.
Amen! My parents never sealed me in a bubble and I’ve celebrated of life of being allergy-free and I’m grateful. I’ve got 7 siblings with the same immune health. With that in mind, I found a way to really challenge your germ endurance (if not your personal gross meter) 😀
I recently blogged on my own run-in with germs. If you can, take a look. 🙂
Thanks- I too thank my parents for letting me develop my immune system through natural means. I checked out the video- quite interesting. I wonder how we could incorporate that into our immune strengthening…
[…] article and podcast that give some good coverage of the subject. Last year I wrote a bit on this (Get Dirty) and the last year has only reinforced my thinking on how important our connection to germs […]