St. Paul Chiropractor Blog

Health. Wellness. For Life.

My Son Eats Dirt

lucas-dirtAs any parent of young children will tell you, kids put all kinds of things in their mouths. My son, for example, drinks from mud puddles and eats dirt.

No, not on a regular basis! ūüôā

I just have observed him and his siblings do this (and other gross things) over the past several years and try to use those as teachable moments in his childhood.

But is it all bad?

Sure, I’m not advocating a diet of dirt but I think we go overboard as a culture trying to disinfect and sanitize every surface that our kids will come in contact with. The reality of it is, we live in an ecosystem – not a sterile environment. In fact, we ourselves are more of an ecosystem than an “organism.”

Let me explain…

Scientists estimate that we have about 10 trillion cells that are “us”. ¬†These are the cells that are human cells, but in addition to those, we have 100 trillion different microbes living in and on us. ¬†So for every cell that is “us” there are 10 microbes that inhabit our body.

Quick, get the antibiotics and anti-bacterial soap!

Not so fast.  As it turns out, most of these microbes serve a purpose for us. If we were to wipe out all the microbes that inhabit our bodies, we would die!  Whether we want to admit it or not, we live in a symbiotic relationship with these creatures.

Are all of these microbes bad?  No.

But are all these microbes good?

Probably not – so there is a delicate balance at play within us.

As a culture, we have become obsessed with cleanliness to the point that we invest in sanitizing wipes, hand cleaners and sprays (that are guaranteed to kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria and even remove 95% of household allergens).

But at what cost?

The “hygiene hypothesis” postulates that we now see an¬†increase¬†in allergies, auto-immune disease and other illnesses due to our¬†decreased¬†exposure to certain environmental microbes – especially in childhood. ¬†In other words, our immune systems are not being given the chance to develop naturally.

It should go without saying that our lifestyle plays an important role in the life of these resident organisms and therefore –¬†our lives.¬†recover-from-medicine

We alter this balance when we wash with antibacterial soaps, take an antibiotic, and eat certain foods. ¬†I’m not saying taking antibiotics is always the wrong thing to do, I’m just advocating that we consider the effect this is taking on our body’s ecosystem and development. ¬†Just as we wouldn’t dump chemicals willy-nilly into our water supply, we should carefully consider what goes (even FDA approved chemicals) into our bodies.

I recently read an outstanding article in the NY Times on this topic. ¬†It is a lengthy piece of well-researched material that deals with this issue. ¬†If this topic is at all interesting to you, check out Michael Pollan’s article, “Some Of My Best Friends Are Germs.”

No, I don’t feed my kids dirt.

But, I also don’t freak out when I see their gritty, mud faced smiles. ¬†I know that SOME exposure is okay and helping to build stronger bodies.

Maybe you’ve read this article already, heard a similar story from another chiropractor or have strong opinions one way or another. ¬†What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below!


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