A little dirt is helpful

Is dirt good for your immune system?

When you think about the words dirt, dirty, dingy, filth, germs and bacteria, you can’t help but to start scratching or turn your nose up in disgust. Those words have been instilled in most Americans since they were little children, and move people to clean, wash hands and develop concerns about their children as well.

There is new research published in the Journal of Pediatrics that claims Americans now are too clean or over-clean. The notion around that statement is shocking, but the research claims the increase in allergies developed by youth today is stemming from doing too much cleaning.

A youth’s immune system helps your body fight off things like bacteria, viruses and germs. When you develop an allergy, your body overreacts to simple things such as food and dust. Being exposed to some dirt or simple bacteria helps train your immune system on how to react to foreign things entering your immune system. The dirt and foreign substances stimulate your immune system to become more tolerant and help fight off the bad.

Over-cleaning will reduce the amount of “dirt” your immune system is exposed to and therefore create and environment for one to develop an allergy. While parents and doctors have preached about being clean and cleaning up, a little dirt is helpful to Americans after all.

Michigan State University Extension supports healthy living programs that help encourage youth to make healthy, lifelong decisions that may affect their nutrition choices, fitness goals and overall well-being. Visit you county MSU Extension office to learn more about the healthy living movement.

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