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: