We live in a culture that’s crazed with cleanliness. We’re drawn to sterility, perpetually reaching for our hand sanitizers and cringing at the idea of eating something that’s been on the floor. Some of us shower twice a day, and use crazy chemicals and drugs to ensure disinfected spaces and bacteria-free bods. But what if we’re going too far, inadvertently sabotaging ourselves by succumbing to this fanatic decontamination?
Increasingly, evidence shows that those who were exposed to more microbes as children are less likely to have allergies and asthma as adults. This is because we actually build up resistance to harmful bacteria through exposure. Researchers call the idea the “hygiene hypothesis,” proposing that spotlessly clean environments may actually be detrimental to our health. Similarly to working out your muscles to build strength, our immune systems need to be exercised in order to function effectively. Our bodies are entire ecosystems, influenced by bacterial interactions in both our internal and external environments. Overly-sanitizing our spaces or always defaulting to strong antibiotics weakens our immune systems. It’s like trying to ace a test you haven’t studied for, or going into a presentation completely unprepared: Your body simply doesn’t have the tools necessary to defend itself.Read More›