Should We Keep Our Children Germ-Free All The Time?

During your childhood, you probably remember that your parents were always making sure that everything around you are clean and germ-free. You were probably deprived of playing outside where the surrounding is not that clean and were told not to pick up things on the ground. They were afraid of anything dirty that can possibly harm your health.

Have you ever thought if what they were doing is 100 percent good for you? The truth is, they're partly wrong. What they were doing is preventing the proper development of your gut bacteria which is a big player in improving your immune system.

Here's Why

A related post by Parent Herald explained that our gut is the home of millions of foreign and native bacteria in our body, both good and bad. Our gut flora should be balanced because this helps our immune system to work properly and allows the proper development of our body.

Paleoleap also explained that the gut flora is responsible in activating the body's immune functions of the epithelial cells in the inside wall of the gut. Any bacteria imbalances that resulted from eating dirty foods are neutralized or balanced by the immune system. The balancing process is called homeostasis.

Another related article from WebMD emphasized that if exposure to bacteria, viruses and illnesses in the early life of the child are limited, their chances of having allergies and autoimmune diseases are high when they turned adults. Researchers call this theory "hygiene hypothesis."

Recommendation for Parents

With changing lifestyles that are far more different from thousand years ago, some gut bacteria that may be beneficial to our body have already disappeared according to Martin Blaser, MD, professor of internal medicine at New York University.

Another cause of the good gut bacteria disappearance is antibiotic drugs that are widely used in treating illnesses. Instead of letting the immune system fight naturally, antibiotic drugs are getting rid of some bacteria that are beneficial to our immune system.

The key to making your children healthy is finding the right balance of lifestyle. Don't be too overprotective to your child. Give them time to play and discover the outside world. Dr. Blaser said, "I'd like to see a recalibration toward common sense. You don't have to wash or sanitize everything."

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