Why exposing your kids to germs is actually good for them

germsIf you're a germaphobe I have some bad news for you. Professor Graham Rock who teaches medical microbiology and immunology at University college London says that today's obsession with cleanliness has made our immune systems weaker compared to older generations. In other words because we avoid touching germs, we are forbidding ourselves of important germs our bodies need to keep the immune system strong.

As a result, we suffer from allergies, have more food intolerances, asthma, and skin problems. Hmm, could there be some truth to this?


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During his research, Professor Rock says he found that in the past three decades he's seen an increase in allergic reactions. Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre revealed that between 2012 and 2013, there were 20,320 cases compared to the prior year, which were 1,460 less.

So what are some of Professor Rock's suggestions to boost your immunity? For starters, he advises everyone to get a dog because they carry friendly bacteria we need. He also suggests that we eat food after it falls on the floor, avoid antibacterial soaps, and overall expose ourselves to things we find ourselves allergic to. He says what we are lacking are the bacterias needed in our mouths and guts normally found in our mother's breastmilk.

He even recommends that new moms not steralize a baby's pacifier when it falls on the floor. He said, 'If a parent picks up the dummy right away and sterilises it or replaces it with a new clean one, that child has a considerably greater chance of having eczema and asthma." Professor Rock elaborates and explains,"But if you are the sort of parent that sucks it clean and it sticks it back in the baby's mouth, then it actually protects them from allergic disorders."

Professor Rock makes it clear that these bacteria exposures are different than being unhygienic. He said, "If you can avoid them by being discreet when you sneeze, throwing away the tissue and washing your hands, that is obviously a good thing to do."

I can see how this professor makes some good points. I hate using antibacterial substances because they dry out my hands. I have never considered myself a germaphobe, but I do find myself getting sick less because I try to maintain the good bacteria in my body. Maybe it's time for many of us to stop acting like we need to live in a germ-free bubble and just see what happens when we are less restrictive.

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: healthy habits  health  sick kids