Sorry germ-o-phobes – but lots of new research shows that it’s possible to be TOO clean. In fact, a growing number of allergists say there’s a strong link between the record number of kids being diagnosed with allergies and asthma today and the environment those kids are raised in. For example:
A new study in the Journal of Allergy and Immunology shows that Amish children who were raised on farms were less likely to develop allergies than their peers in cities. That’s despite the fact that kids on farms are exposed to more dirt and germs than kids in cities.
Also, the FDA is evaluating the safety of an ingredient used in a lot of antibacterial products – called triclosan. Because statistics show that as more products are loaded with this chemical – to keep us germ-free - the number of kids diagnosed with allergies has skyrocketed!
Plus, some experts even say that overuse of antimicrobial soaps - and antibiotics - may be the reason we’re seeing more strains of resistant “superbugs” today.
This new research supports what scientists call the “hygiene hypothesis.” Basically, they say our immune system works like an army – meaning, to stay strong, it needs to practice fighting germs and allergens – just like soldiers practice shooting at targets. But if our environment is too clean, then our immune system doesn’t get the practice it needs, and it can’t tell the difference between harmful and harmless microbes, so it fights any irritant that comes along. So, if you skip a day of dusting – or miss a spot sweeping up after your pet – don’t freak out because a little bit of dirt may be good for us.