Yes, it is important to wash your hands.
It is very important during the cold and flu season, and especially if you visit someone in the hospital.
The problem is that parents have taken the issue of cleanliness too far.
New science shows that removing small organisms called germs with hand cleaners, anti-bacterial soaps and liberal doses of antibiotics is having a profoundly negative effect on our children’s immune system. – says microbiologist Marie-Claire Arrieta, co-author of a new book called “Let them eat and: Save our children from an over-cleansed world.”
Arrieta, who is a professor at the University of Calgary, along with her co-author, microbiologist Brett Finlay, say we are raising our children in a cleaner, more hyper-hygienic environment than ever before.
They say that over-purity, as we are doing, is contributing to the emergence of a range of chronic conditions, ranging from simple allergies to obesity.
You have long heard that overuse of antibiotics can lead to the emergence of bacterial-resistant infections in hospitals, something we associate with older people and other people with weakened immunity.
But the implications are much deeper and broader than that.
So what is the connection between microbes and the development of the immune system in childhood?
When we are born, we have no germs.
Our immune system is underdeveloped.
But once the germs appear, they start working on our immune system.
Without germs, our immune system can not fight infections.
For example, studies show that children who grow up in rural areas are much less likely to develop asthma.
Of course we can not all move to a farm, but what is suggested is living in an environment that is not overcrowded is better.
In addition, studies show that cleaning everything that touches a child’s mouth increases the likelihood of asthma.
All of this highlights the fact that we are living too clean, to the point that it is not helpful.
Hygiene is vital to our health.
We should not stop washing our hands, but we should know when and how to do it.
When you find your child playing with and in the garden, there is no need to clean it right away.
A balance must be struck between preventing infection, and exposure to microbes that are beneficial.