Are We Too Clean?

Being exposed to germs and bacteria is an inevitable encounter in the lives of all persons on Earth. Society encourages us to be germ-conscious and to avoid germs, but I believe it is arguable that avoiding and being wary of germs is potentially doing more harm to our bodies than good.

An article on BBC.com by Katia Moskvitch discusses how being ‘too clean’ can be detrimental to an individual’s overall health, which is a perspective on this issue I have personally adopted. Moskovitch analyzes how despite a select few types of bacteria being harmful, there are numerous that can actually provide benefits to our bodies. Bacteria is the driving force behind the development of vitamins in our digestive tracts and protecting our skin from harmful microbes, and is furthermore to thank for the decomposition of compost waste and keeping our air quality balanced which supports and encourages plant and animal life. 

Moskovitch makes reference to a British epidemiologist named David Strachan who proposed that the exposing infections to children at a young age would aid in developing a strong defence against allergies in later life in 1989. His belief is recognized as the ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’. I think this fellow was on to something.

It has been proposed that over-sanitation and obsessive cleanliness has actually weakened the immune systems of persons which is why allergies are prevalent more now than they ever have been in the past. The elimination of common bacteria and germs from everyday living causes our immune systems to become weakened, meaning when we do encounter remotely stronger bacteria we are more likely to become ill.

I am not suggesting to stop bathing or to stop cleaning your house. I am suggesting, however, to consider how bacteria and germs are not nearly as bad as society has made them out to be, and to perhaps be a little more susceptible to dirt.

 

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