Now a days parents are obsessed with not allowing their kids play in the dirt. Parents carry disinfecting wipes wherever they go; hand sanitizer dispensers seem to be on every other corner, parents don’t let their kids to get a little dirty and the list goes on. A stark contrast to the way we were raised as children not that long ago. We used to roll around in the dirt and get a little mucky, jump in streams to bottle fish, climb trees to grab a handful of boras, get bruised and dusty on playgrounds, collect mud, walk barefoot through dust bowls in search of kantam and chunnam, you name it. We craved to immerse ourselves in the natural environment.

Parents today are so worried about their children falling sick, catching a cold or flu that they are obsessively focused on whether their child is clean and germ-free. However, this seems to work against the natural rhythm of life. Science has proven that exposure to dirt is beneficial to a child’s life. Well, now research into the connection between getting dirty and a healthy immune system has found that this modern obsession with germs and cleanliness might be leading to the rise in allergies, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. Children love dirt because they instinctively know it is good for them in order to grow up with a strong immune system.

Just like any other muscle in our body, the immune system needs to be exercised in order to fully develop and become strong enough to resist illness and disease. The best way to do that is playing outdoors with dirt! What a child is doing when he gets dirty is allowing his immune system to explore his environment. Not only does this allow for ‘practice’ of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what things can be best ignored as harmless without any hypersensitive reaction. When children are not exposed early on to such environments the immune system fails to recognize such substances as harmless and therefore tries to defend the body against these substances it recognizes now as foreign and harmful by an exaggerated immune response we recognize as allergies.

Bacteria are everywhere: on us, in us and all around us. Most of these microorganisms cause no problem, and many, like the ones that normally live in the digestive tract and produce life-sustaining nutrients, are essential to good health. The typical human probably harbors some 90 trillion microbes. The very fact that you have so many microbes of so many different kinds is what keeps you healthy most of the time.

In our clinics we have found children who have been exposed outdoors to all sorts of bugs, worms, dirt, sand and natural elements demonstrate less allergies and autoimmune problems than children who spend most of their time indoors. We also find this vast contrast in the health of two children raised by the same parents in the same environment. We usually find the elder child who had been too protected by cautious parents from dirt to be catching sicknesses much more often than the younger child who had been less protected. Children raised in an ultra clean environment, are not being exposed to organisms that help them develop appropriate immune regulatory circuits.

Playing outside every now and then and digging in the dirt more often would do wonders for the health of today’s youngsters. Parents take a deep breath and enjoy watching the joy your child experiences playing in dirt while knowing that they are building their intuitive instincts and a strong immune system. Its time you now relax and trust your children’s in house doctor his ‘immune system’ which will actually make them healthier the dirtier they get.

Dr.Silroy Martins MD
Dr. Dorland Martins MD
Consultants at VitaNova Clinics
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