Health – A Little Dirt Won’t Hurt

As a little girl, I always liked to share. I would prepare in the back yard the most awesome meals and for dessert—pies! For some reason many people did not want to participate but my little brother was always very happy to join me. I would present mud patties and my dessert of mud-pies sprinkled with grass, flowers and any other pretties found in the dirt. I was just so proud! We would enjoy it until, suddenly, mama would come barreling out of the house with a dish rag and water and her big finger to try to clean all of that good food out of our mouths. I just couldn’t understand why she would do that! Oh, if Mama could read the latest headline: “Dirtying up our Diets, she might have appreciated my mud pies!

Here are a few excerpts to show why a few little mud-pies won’t hurt.

“Increasing evidence suggests that the alarming rise in allergic and autoimmune disorders during the past few decades is at least partly attributable to our lack of exposure to microorganisms that once covered our food and us. …

“In a world of hand sanitizer and wet wipes, we can scarcely imagine the preindustrial lifestyle that resulted in the daily intake of trillions of helpful organisms. For nearly all of human history, this began with maternal transmission of beneficial microbes during passage through the birth canal — mother to child. However, the alarming increase in the rate of Caesarean section births means a potential loss of microbiota from one generation to the next. And for most of us in the industrialized world, the microbial cleansing continues throughout life. Nature’s dirt floor has been replaced by tile; our once soiled and sooted bodies and clothes are cleaned almost daily; our muddy water is filtered and treated; our rotting and fermenting food has been chilled; and the cowshed has been neatly tucked out of sight. While these improvements in hygiene and sanitation deserve applause, they have inadvertently given rise to a set of truly human-made diseases.

“While comforting to the germ-phobic public, the too-shiny produce and triple-washed and bagged leafy greens in our local grocery aisle are hardly recognized by our immune system as food. The immune system is essentially a sensory mechanism for recognizing microbial challenges from the environment. Just as your tongue and nose are used to sense suitability for consumption, your immune system has receptors for sampling the environment, rigorous mechanisms for dealing with friend or foe, and a memory. Your immune system even has the capacity to learn.

“For all of human history, this learning was driven by our near-continuous exposure from birth and throughout life to organisms as diverse as mycobacteria from soil and food; helminth, or worm parasites, from just about everywhere you turned; and daily recognition and challenges from our very own bacteria. Our ability to regulate our allergic and inflammatory responses to these co-evolved companions is further compromised by imbalances in the gut microbiota from overzealous use of antibiotics (especially in early childhood) and modern dietary choices.

“The suggestion that we embrace some ‘old friends’ does not immediately imply that we are inviting more food-borne illness — quite the contrary. Setting aside for the moment the fact that we have the safest food supply in human history, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and food processing plants and farmers continue to take the blame for the tainted food that makes us ill, while our own all-American sick gut may deserve some blame as well. …

“As we move deeper into a ‘postmodern’ era of squeaky-clean food and hand sanitizers at every turn, we should probably hug our local farmers’ markets a little tighter. They may represent our only connection with some ‘old friends’ we cannot afford to ignore.” Excerpts from:

In his article, “Why I Don’t Use Hand Sanitizers,” Al Sears, M.D. states: “I went out to my favorite restaurant with my friend. Instead of washing her hands, she rubbed hand sanitizer on while we were waiting for our food. Then she handed it to me. But I told her I wasn’t touching the stuff.

“The truth is, hand sanitizers don’t do what they’re intended to do. A new University of Virginia study tested hand sanitizers on two groups of people. One used hand sanitizers every three hours for 10 weeks. The other group just went about their daily lives, as usual. The result? There was no difference in the viruses on the hands of the participants in the two groups. And that’s a good thing. Because being exposed to germs can help prevent a ton of health problems. …

“Bottom line: Not only do you not need hand sanitizers to fight off germs, it’s a very bad idea to use them. What you really need to do is be exposed to bacteria and build a stronger immune system. … eat natural foods. They’re the best source for the vitamins and nutrients you need to prevent colds. Load up on immune-boosting foods like red and pinto beans, blueberries, cranberries, artichokes, raspberries, strawberries, apples, plums, pecans, oranges, and green leafy veggies. These foods will help you fight off infections and protect your cells from damage. … you can boost your immunity by eating garlic. It’s one of nature’s best antibiotics. And unlike antibiotics, it doesn’t kill off the good bacteria in your gut while fighting off the bad stuff. All you need are a few cloves a day to wipe out germs. You even can create your own natural “V8” by blending some tomatoes, sea salt, garlic cloves and your favorite mix of veggies.”

Oh, if mama could understand that my mud pies were just fine!