Is Being Overly Clean Harmful?

I’m not going to lie. I’m a clean freak. I’m super organized, love a clean space, and can’t stand clutter.

Although I don’t carry hand sanitizer in my purse, I do like washing my hands and probably wash them way more than I need to.

Watching this video gave me heart palpitations. Seriously, I’m pretty sure you have to be on mind-altering chemicals to roll around in the mud like that.

To give you some perspective, just one teaspoon of soil has as many microbes as there are people on the planet. Wowzers!

The surprising truth is being overly clean may not be good for our health.

Research tells us that by exposing ourselves to dirt and microbes, we may develop a healthier immune system, have better gut health, and be less likely to develop allergies.

The ‘happy people’ in this video may be onto something.

Consider this. Farm children that are constantly exposed to animals, dirt, and microbes tend to have less atopic disease (asthma, allergic rhinitis, and dermatitis) and fewer allergies.1

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that children raised on farms are 30% – 50% less likely to develop childhood asthma.2

Perhaps getting dirty isn’t such a bad thing.

If we take a closer look at our urban lifestyle, it’s easy to see how deprived we are of microbes. We spend most of the day indoors, we disinfect everything, and we are exposed to hundreds of synthetic chemicals in our personal care products. In any given day, if you’re not using natural body care products (e.g. shampoo, body wash, shaving cream, moisturizer etc…) you’re likely applying hundreds of chemicals to your skin, which kill your “friendly” bacteria.

Scary, isn’t it?

All of these aspects of our modern day lifestyle affect our ‘good’ bacteria – both on the skin and in the digestive tract.

With the rise of allergies and chronic disease, perhaps it’s time we stop running from bacteria and start embracing these little bugs.

My advice?

Spend more time outdoors, walk barefoot in nature, and stop harming your sensitive microbiome by being overly clean.

Lastly, when it comes to your kids (if you have any) – please, please, please … let them get dirty!

“Parents today are keeping their children away from the things that are critical to their health,” says Dr. Shetreat-Klein, a pediatric neurologist and mother of three from New York. “We are sanitizing their lives with cleaning products, pesticides and antibiotics.”3

So there you have it.

Dirt is good for you.

It plays a role in immune health, digestive health, and much more.

Although you probably won’t be rolling in the mud at a music festival anytime soon, perhaps this article has got you thinking about microbes in a new way.

 

Resources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1448690/
  2. Ege, Marcus, et al (2011). “Exposure to Environmental Microorganisms and Childhood Asthma.” New England Journal of Medicine. Vol 364. 701-709.
  3. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/good-news/2016/06/11/our-obsession-with-hygiene-is-jeopardising-our-childrens-haelth/

 

Dr.Sara Celik
Dr. Sara Celik is a board-certified Naturopathic Doctor and is the Spokesperson for Renew Life Canada. She is a leader in the health and wellness industry and is regularly featured as a sought-after expert on television programs and in health publications. Dr. Sara carries over 15 years experience and her clinical practice and work in the community Is focused on digestive health, detoxification and weight loss.
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