Parents are at their wit’s end trying to teach kids lessons in hygiene just to discover them indulging in their favorite hobby, yet again! Dirty, mud covered bodies and clothes are symbolic of youth. However, new research indicates that this is an evolutionary urge, which shouldn’t be curbed for reasons explained in this report. It’s no secret that many children have an insatiable desire to catch the dirtiest looking items and put them in their mouth.
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Even a child who’s under a year old, barely able to do much except drink milk and sleep all day, encounters a character change the moment it’s put back on the floor, out in the open. The exploration starts and everything including sand, dirt and even poop finds its way to the very small mouths. This continues for some time and many moms are clueless about why their infants find the taste of dirt so irresistible, when mashed veggies, formula food in a variety of tastes and other food prepared with the labour of love just don’t appear to appeal to them! Well, relax everyone!
You’re not bad cooks, bad parents or poor caregivers. Your darling children are just being really natural and their activities are driven by instinct. Recent research suggests that kids splattered in mud are acting on instinct which gives them an evolutionary advantage.
The immune system that’s still in the developmental stages in children, is exposed to many different germs, viruses and worms through all of the dirt and filth. This vulnerability prepares appropriate immune responses to offset the potential ill effects resulting from the entrance of these pathogens to the body. This early exposure to pathogens is so powerful that scientific study asserts it is instrumental in preventing allergies and other autoimmune disorders later in the life span of these children.
Exposure to dirt and filth is comparable to a “warm-up” exercise for the immune system to enable it to prepare for nastier bugs. Isn’t that a fantastic reason dirt is good for children? Through her novel, the immunologist strongly advocates that the western culture’s obsession with antibacterial soaps and the quest to be’constantly clean’ is really making our children more sick. Diseases between immune dysregulation, autoimmunity or chronic inflammation have been reported as becoming common in developed countries.
Experts believe that this is mostly because of the destruction of our ‘private ecosystems’ due to our efforts to over sanitize our living spaces and our own bodies to make them “germ-free”. A whole assortment of modern diseases like multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Graves’ disease, ulcerative colitis, type I diabetes, allergies, asthma, coeliac disease, and Sjögren’s syndrome are more prevalent than ever before, and specialists feel that our excessive sanitization of our surroundings is one of the key causes.
In contemporary medicine, this concept is known as the hygiene hypothesis. The theory states that people have always coexisted with various varieties of microbes (lactobacilli, various mycobacteria, and specific helminths) including parasites forming our private ecosystem. The exposure has led to human beings getting less vulnerable to allergies. But in the extremely clean environment, the absence of exposure to such microbes has led to children develop an underdeveloped immune system.
The idle immune systems are currently developing allergic reactions rather than focusing on fighting disease (which never happens due lack of exposure to germs, due to vaccination, hand washes, airtight windows, etc.). Additionally, antibiotics are making things easier for the relaxed state of our immune system. On the contrary, the microbes are now fighting to withstand these artificial reactions, causing “super bugs” that appear to be resistant to antibiotic therapy. Is it Time to Shed our Clean Image? So if we go to the ancient lifestyle of people and prevent all vaccinations and cover our kids in filth and grime? Should we just stop bothering if the kid catches a mild fever or cold, trusting their immune system will grow up to the challenge? Certainly not! We definitely shouldn’t ignore life threatening food allergies or encourage our kids to become less sterile in the hope of creating resistance to germs.
What we will need to do is stop obsessing over cleanliness and understand why playing in the dirt is good for children. Let your child play openly when he/she’s out in the open. Let environmental interactions be ordinary and lively. Stop fretting every time your kid rolls sand on the floor. Do not count the many times he rolls his sweaty playmate! It’s useless to get rid of sleep over that tiny scratch on his or her elbow. Stop carrying the hand sanitizer looking for a chance to use it on your kid. Go and find that vaccination done today, if your child has been bruised by a rusted metal item. Ask your child to wash his/her hands before a meal and to always maintain the nails clean. Ordinary soap is fine for preserving hygiene. Avoid using antibacterial soaps on a regular basis. A balanced diet and regular exposure to the environment are critical for children. You’re not being a protective parent by obsessing over your children’s hygiene when outdoors. Just allow the child be. Find that important balance between care and obsession. Let your kids go barefoot to the sand and befriend a few of those germs! Mother Earth will protect them.