If You’re Too Clean, You’re Being Too Clever For Your Own Good!


There’s no such thing as being too clean is there? Turns out there is! It’s yet another one of those first-world problems creeping out to ‘infect’ the third-world. As if they didn’t have enough problems to contend with. Who needs asthma and allergies when you’re trying to survive hepatitis and TB?

It seems furiously sterilizing, wiping, bleaching and disinfecting can leave our bodies with a permanent case of the jellies – susceptible to the most innocuous of pollens, nuts, even fruit and berries that might happen to wander into our not so private space.

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Health is an over arching global concern and interest in asthma and allergies is beginning to rise as their incidence becomes increasingly unpredictable and just as unmanageable. It seems the law of unintended consequences applies as much to our health as it does to economics. Interfere – and clean up- at your peril according to theHygiene Hypothesis (1989). In an article recently publishedin The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers suggest exposure to certain allergens (cats, mice and roaches, to be precise) and bacteria in the first year of life, can be beneficial by protecting against wheezing and allergic diseases later in life. Sadly, the window is mighty small: stepping out of a squeaky-clean bubble after the first year of life will leave you over-exposed and your nose, painfully runny!

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So, what are 3 good reasons to court germs?

1) The Amish for one! According to a 2012 study conducted by Dr Mark Holbreich, Amish children growing up on large farms in Indiana, have a less than 10% allergy rate compared to Swiss farm-dwelling children (22%) and non-farm dwelling Swiss children (45%). Why Swiss, you ask? Because many Amish are descendants of Swiss immigrants who arrived in the USA in the 1800s.

2) Training, for another. The immune system needs exposure to bacteria or pathogens if it is to learn to differentiate between good guys and bad. Farm dwellers, urban, inner city dwellers are exposed to veritable hotbeds of bacteria – bugs, droppings, animals, plants and soil.

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3) Finally, desensitization. Small, super-clean, suburban dwellings have nothing to offer but mere allergens: dust mites, pollen, grass and pet dander. The immune system, searching for the enemy, becomes highly sensitive, primed to attack at the slightest provocation and these allergens are just the ticket. Voila: eczema, asthma, hay fever. 

Time to invite a few mice and roaches into your home. And get some cats. 

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