Dangers of Killing Good Bacteria You Need to Stay Healthy
Your body’s immune system is built to fight off bacteria, germs, viruses, parasites and disease. And for centuries it has been doing just that, getting naturally exposed to germs in the environment and getting a workout by fighting them off.
Children who grow up on farms, in large families, or with pets may be less likely to develop allergies and asthma. Why? Because they’re exposed to more dirt and germs at a young age.
In modern times, however, exposure to germs is not what it used to be. Children receive vaccinations from early on, which means their immune systems will not have to fight off illnesses like polio or measles. Antibiotics, too, fight bacterial infections for you so your immune system is off the hook.
Our homes are also often doused with antibacterial cleansers, while we wash our hands with antibacterial soaps. And our indoor environments are typically sealed off with airtight windows and doors designed to save energy, but which concentrate allergens inside.
Even our diets are becoming largely sterilized, with chlorinated drinking water, pasteurized dairy products, and irradiated produce common in the United States.
The result, while beneficial for reducing the spread of infectious disease, may be backfiring in the form of rising numbers of immune system disorders such as asthma and allergies and possibly rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, insulin-dependent diabetes and scleroderma — a phenomenon known as the hygiene hypothesis.
“It’s called the hygiene hypothesis,” Marc McMorris, M.D., a pediatric allergist at the University of Michigan Health System, told Science Daily. “We’ve developed a cleanlier lifestyle, and our bodies no longer need to fight germs as much as they did in the past. As a result, the immune system has shifted away from fighting infection to developing more allergic tendencies.”
Being Too Clean May Backfire
If your environment is too clean it will not provide the necessary germ exposures needed to “educate” your immune system to launch defenses against infectious organisms. Not only can it make your immune responses inadequate, but it may cause your immune system to overreact to substances in your environment that would ordinarily be harmless, such as pollen, dust or pet dander.
Give Your Body the Good Bacteria it Craves
You can help fortify your gut health (and your family’s gut health) with Probiotics — high quality probiotic supplements can provide clinical activities supporting systemic health and wellness through immune-system protection, allergy reduction and effective and enhanced nutrient absorption.
Studies have shown that probiotics may be helpful with:
Studies have shown, for instance, that young children who spend time in daycare (and therefore are exposed to a wide variety of germs) are less likely to develop allergies and asthma, as are those who grew up on farms, with pets or in large families. Other research has shown that children who grow up in very clean homes have a higher risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease.
Although the hygiene hypothesis remains a theory, increasing evidence continues to bolster its scientific reputation.
A Friendly Bacteria Solution?
As much of our environment and food has become overly sterile, researchers are beginning to realize the importance and benefit of regularly taking probiotics, or good bacteria.
According to a Webcast from Harvard Medical School:
“[There is] encouraging scientific evidence that probiotic administration may prevent and reduce the immune-mediated disease trend. Probiotics are living organisms, which when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.
Regular consumption of certain probiotics can help regulate the balance of bacteria in the digestive tract and reinforce mucosal defenses that helps limit the propagation of immune mediated disease bacteria. Probiotics have been used historically by many societies worldwide to promote health.”
In fact, 70 percent of your immune system is located in your digestive system, which means that if your gut is overrun with bad bacteria, there’s a good chance your immune system will not be functioning at its best.
On the other hand, if your gut is being fortified with good bacteria, or probiotics, your immune system will be fully functioning and have the best chance of fighting off any disease-causing bacteria it encounters.
In choosing a probiotic supplement for yourself, be certain it’s a practitioner recommended a superlative probiotic supplement that provides clinical activities supporting systemic health and wellness through immune-system protection, allergy reduction and effective and enhanced nutrient that can be absorbed to improve immune system response and alleviate symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, sugar cravings, yeast overgrowth and bacterial infections.
Probiotics should be considered for use before and during antiobiotic use with high-dose delivering billions of organisms when such aggressive therapeutic dosages are needed.
Look for stated number of organisms in billions per capsule, and clinically effective and dominant bacterial genus-species as for specific metabolic activities, which lead to their effective inter-species synergism.
Studies have shown that probiotics may be helpful with immune system modulation and allergies, so it’s a simple step that may help keep you and your family in the best health possible.
In certain circumstances, diarrhea can be related to antibiotics or Clostridium dificile and would best respond from the use of a Saccharomyces boulardii product. A dairy and lactose-free strain of non-GMO yeast is a one supplement which may promote optimal gastrointestinal health.
Finding a Happy Healthy Medium
Resisting the urge to live in an overly sterile environment is important, especially if you have young children or babies in your home. Along with fortifying your immune system with good bacteria from a high-quality probiotic, you can live in harmony with dirt and germs … and perhaps boost your immune system in the process … by:
- Only taking antibiotics when absolutely necessary, as they kill off all your body’s bacteria (both good and bad). You should also try to buy organic meats and dairy products for your family, as these do not contain antibiotics as conventional animal foods do.
- Removing the chlorine from your family’s drinking water. Using a water filtration system or delivered bottled water is important to deliver the purest and most natural tasting healthy water available to effectively reduce harmful contaminants, including chlorine and trihalomethanes, while at the same time, if available enhancing the water with added important minerals that your body needs.
- Using regular soap and water to clean your hands and body. Antibacterial soaps are not necessary and may do more harm than good. Instead, try organic and all-natural soaps. These soaps cleanse your skin naturally with no chemical or detergent bases.
- Avoid using antibacterial cleansers around your home. You should strive to keep your home clean … but not sterile with gentle cleansers that are healthier than disinfecting detergents.
- Get out in the dirt and play! When your children are very young, play outdoors often and do not shield them from animals, pets or other children. It seems that some good old-fashioned playtime and exposure to a wide range of bacteria and germs may help your little one develop a strong immune system for life.
Harvard Medical School Division of Nutrition, Probiotics and The Hygiene Hypothesis: A Case for Protective Nutrients