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Greenfield, Ben, Dirty Kids: How Germs Can Be Your Child’s Best Friend, Huffington Zamosky, Lisa, Is Dirt Good For Kids?, 855 Moro Drive Gilroy d o Ki s, I G Fa Article Brought To You By: SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 Sources: GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN your kids come down with a nasty bug, it’s better to let their bodies fight it off on their own. Antibiotics should only be used as a last resort. Like all things, keeping your kids healthy requires balance. They don’t need to bathe every day or wash their hands and faces every time they come in from playing outside, but they also don’t need to be the neighborhood pigpen. It just requires a good dose of common sense. If your child is bitten by a wild animal, like a mouse or a tick, then they should definitely sanitize the area and receive proper medication. Eating with dirt on their hands isn’t a big deal. As appalling as it might seem, exposing your kids to pathogenic organisms such as bacteria, worms, parasites, fungi, and viruses might be the best thing you do for them. You’ll be giving them the immuno- logical advantages they’ll need to fight off serious illnesses and diseases later in life. And the great thing is your immune system will likely benefit too, which might make you feel better the next time your child coughs in your face or sneezes all over the dinner table. a piece of pollen for example, they over- react and trigger a massive inflammatory response, such as asthma, eczema, or food allergies. Worse still, chronic inflammation of any kind has been linked to adulthood illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and degenerative illnesses like Altzheimer’s. So what’s the best way to expose our kids to germs? Let them be kids! Let them gnaw on grocery cart handles, shove grass, leaves, and dirt in their mouths, and eat things off the floor. Even poop is relatively safe to play with. Is it disgusting? Absolutely! But it will certainly give your child’s immune system something to do. Pets are also great for this. Cats, dogs, hamsters, lizards, and even fish introduce a variety of germs that your child might not encounter otherwise. If you don’t have pets, an occasional trip to the local farm or petting zoo will do the trick. And, of course, exposure to other kids helps get the germs going too. Another thing you can do is avoid anti- bacterial soaps and antibiotics. Not only has it been proven that they aren’t more effective than regular soap and water, they have the added bonus of being dangerous. All antibacterial soaps contain triclosan and triclocarbon, an antibiotic that is also used to treat bacterial infections in hospitals. Bacteria that has been exposed to large amounts of triclosan and triclocarbon eventually develop genetic mutations that make them resistant to these antibiotics. Unlike us, bacteria have a unique way of sharing their genetic adaptations. If one bacterium forms a resistance, it can take that part of its DNA and give it to one of its non- resistant buddies, which will then go on to share with its buddies. The result is a lot of bacteria developing antibacterial resistance very quickly, which contributes to the super- bug issue we’re having today. Overuse of antibiotics creates the same problem. Even if A signifi cant body of research suggests that exposing kids to germs at an early age gives them more protection from allergies, asthma, and auto-immune diseases later in life. In fact, studies have proven that people who grow up in developing countries have less immunological and auto- immune diseases than people who grow up in industrialized ones. When people immigrate from a developing country to an industrialized country, they start to develop immunological disorders like asthma and chronic infl ammation the longer they live in that industrialized area. Many of the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that we kill with disinfectant have been around since our hunter-gatherer days, when our immune systems were evolving. As a result, our bodies have become so dependent on these microbes that our immune systems can’t develop or function properly without them. The same way babies need constant stimulation, input, and interaction to develop properly, the young immune system needs constant exposure to a variety of germs so that it can learn and adapt. Every person has an array of T-cells, which are programmed to recognize harm- ful pathogens and mobilize the immune system against them. On