Do germs terrify you? Do you try to sterilize your home and body to prevent infections from viruses, bacteria, and fungi? What you may not realize is that our immune health depends on microbes and that your cleaning routine may actually be harming your health and contributing to chronic disease for the entire community. Germs are good for you!
As, I’m writing this, we’re in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic so what I’m saying may seem strange. Even with this crisis, I believe (and many scientists concur) that killing everything in the environment that has the potential to harm us through our sanitizing regimens, and sterilizing our bodies with pharmaceuticals, is not a good idea!
Unfortunately this is the message many of us hear from the medical community, from politicians, and commercials for popular cleaning products. We’ve been led to believe that if we can’t control nature, we’re at it’s mercy, and there’s nothing else we can do about it.
I’m hoping you’ll hear me out! I believe our health problems are much, much bigger than Covid-19. Our aim of sterility and fear of infectious disease is contributing to these other problems – especially with our children.
With this information, it’s my wish you’ll become less fearful of the beautiful microbial world. You’ll see that it’s necessary for us to interact with in order for our immune systems to function well. Here’s 4 reasons why you should stop obsessively disinfecting today.
Why We Need to Stop Sanitizing Everything
1) Over 97% of Microbes Are Benign or Beneficial
Our microbiome, the population of beneficial bacteria in our gut and on our skin, are needed to protect against possible pathogens. We can think of them as generals of the immune system to direct it’s weapons against invaders.
Our bodies are inoculated with these microbes as we exit the birth canal. This is one of the many reasons we need promote natural birth when possible. It’s why we shouldn’t bathe our babies so much. If we promote extended breastfeeding, babies and toddlers will continue to populate their guts with beneficial bacteria in mother’s milk. These practices give children a head start with good health and wellness.
But that’s still not enough! We need these beneficial microorganisms throughout our lifetime through exposure in our soil, from pets and farm animals, in fermented foods that we should all be eating, and from human interaction. Hugging, kissing, and shaking hands are all necessary for our physical and emotional health!
2) Lack of Microbial Exposure Can Cause Chronic Disease
This Hygiene Hypothesis says that conditions like allergies, asthma, autoimmune disorders, and obesity are caused by lack of exposure to microbes.
An interesting 2016 study looked at children in two traditional Christian farming groups: the Amish and the Hutterites. The Amish practice traditional farming, using hand-held tools. Hutterites, on the other hand, use modern farm equipment and have less interaction with the soil.
Researchers found that far less Amish children had asthma compared to the Hutterites. After testing their blood, they also discovered that the Amish kids had significantly more white blood cells. We know that white blood cells are necessary for fighting infections. One could guess this was because of their direct exposure to microbes, which boosted their immune system.
We have a major issue with chronic disease in this country, and it’s growing at an alarming rate with children. Many people with chronic disease have poor gut health and it directly affects immune system function.
3) Bleach & Other Disinfectants Can Damage Your Body and Increase Infections
When we use harsh cleaning chemicals indoors, they are killing ALL microorganisms – the possible pathogens as well as the beneficial ones. These products also strip our skin and gut of it’s protective microbiome. Remember that when gut health is diminished, so is our immunity, and we’re more prone to infections.
A 2015 study in the Occupational & Environmental Medicine journal looked at the effects of bleach use in the homes of more than 9,000 kids ages 6 to 12 in Spain, the Netherlands and Finland. In homes where bleach was used, there was a much greater incidence of the flu, tonsillitis, sinusitis, bronchitis and pneumonia.
In addition to killing our beneficial microbiome, we also know that many cleaning products contain chemicals that are known or suspected carcinogens, endocrine disruptors (meaning they affect hormone balance and regulation), and increase the risk of chronic respiratory disease. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), 53% of cleaning products harm the lungs and “about 22% contain chemicals reported to cause asthma to develop in otherwise healthy individuals”.
4) Sanitizing Our Bodies and Environment is Pressuring Microbes to Mutate
Anti-microbial soaps, hand sanitizers, disinfectants, and ALL pharmaceutical drugs that are meant to protect us from and treat infections actually threaten the existence of microbes.
The problem: Microbes want to live as passionately as we do! And nature is smart. Remember these words from Jeff Goldblum’s character Ian Malcom in Jurassic park?
Microbes will evolve and mutate in order to live. We are pressuring them to change in order to infect us better! This is a response to our interaction with them.
Antibiotics and antibacterial products are not fooling them at all. Chemicals like triclosan are so purified that it’s easy for the microbes to recognize and form resistance against them which creates superbugs that cannot be managed with standard antibiotics.
Triclosan typically ends up in nose secretions of people who use triclosan-containing products. Methicillan Resistant Staphlococcus Aureus (MRSA) then binds to collagen and keratin proteins there since tricolosan poses zero threat to them. This creates harmful infections that don’t respond to standard medicines.
Although it was banned from handsoaps by the FDA, triclosan is still present in popular toothpastes, dish soaps, personal care products and other items on your store shelves to this day.
How Do You Stay Healthy During An Outbreak?
Let’s get back to the elephant in the room, that we’re dealing with a global pandemic. What do I hope you’ll glean from this information that will help you and your family stay healthy & well?
I’m hoping this information relaxes you to the point where you can focus on what truly matters right now. Instead of killing everything in the environment and hiding from each other, we should instead focus on wellness. How do you do that during a pandemic?
- Hand washing – gentle soap and water will remove potential pathogens from your hands without depleting the microbiome on your skin or in your gut.
- Building your immunity – you can read more on how to do this in How to Boost Immunity Naturally with 5 Key Tips.
If you were to let go of your sanitizing efforts and instead focus on boosting your health, then you’ll continue to live your life with greater confidence, trusting your body and nature.
We also want to think about future consequences of our actions right now.
If we keep obsessively cleaning our environment and sanitizing our bodies, then we will no doubt see a greater increase of infections in the future. This will not be due to a lack of social distancing with fellow humans, but because pathogens are getting stronger and smarter, and we are becoming more weak.
I hope you found this information interesting. If so, please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!