Are we too obsessed with cleanliness? Let’s get dirty.
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.
Image, This Amazing Heart
I wonder sometimes if my seasonal allergies might have been avoided if I had been exposed to a little more dirt as a kid. I wonder if my sensitive digestion might be stronger today had I chomped on more whole fruits and vegetables with a trace of farm fresh dirt rather than the sanitized processed junk I regularly ate.
Don’t get me wrong; I shower (almost) every day, I wash my kale before massaging it, and I do absolutely everything I can to avoid touching the pole on the subway. I’m simply proposing a broader lens on what we conceive of as clean, perhaps welcoming a bit of filth into our lives. Why not get your hands a little dirty?
If you’re sold on dirtying it up and restoring your body’s ecology, here are two easy ways to get started:
Clean yourself with gentler products. Toss harsh face and body washes formulated with synthetic chemicals and focus on using gentle, 100% natural ingredients. Our Cleanser(ahem) uses rosewater as a core ingredient, helping to clean, tone, and soothe the skin without stripping it of its healthy bacteria or natural, beneficial oils.
Buy organic, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables from the farmers’ market. Not only can you feel fine about giving these just a quick rinse (or no rinse at all), you’re avoiding getting the plastic-packaged, triple-wrapped stuff from the super market.