It’s not uncommon for parents to pull all the stops to keep their kids away from dirt in the bid to keep infections at bay. From preventing engaging in play activities that can make them prone to germs to the regular use of antibacterial soaps, sprays, wipes, sanitizers, and so on, most parents always bring their A-game on as far as busting germs is concerned. However, you may want to take it a bit easy with the germ-busting as research shows exposure to a little dirt does your child’s health a world of good. Find out how below.
Boosts their immune system
Studies suggest children who hardly ever get dirty will lack necessary organisms that help build them immunity towards certain allergies and autoimmune diseases, both now and during adulthood. On the other hand, research found children who grow up on farms and are frequently exposed to worms and other organisms from farm animals are much less likely to develop allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases.
Also, a researcher, Dr. Joel V. Weinstock, director of gastroenterology and hepatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, revealed at birth, the immune system is like an unprogrammed computer which needs instruction, adding that children ‘raised in an ultraclean environment are not being exposed to organisms that help them develop appropriate immune regulatory circuits.’
So, by allowing your children explore their environment and get dirty, you are helping their body learn to adapt and regulate itself in other to build more fierce body soldiers to prevent infections and diseases.
Improved emotional health
Research also shows encouraging outdoor play activities that expose children to dirt helps them beat stress and boosts their overall mood. Studies say dirt contains certain bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae which increases the levels of seratonin in the brain, making your child feel happier and relaxed. It’s soothing and calming effect may also help your child fall asleep easily at night and get more quality sleep.
Improved physical activity
Encouraging more outdoor exploration which fosters the needed exposure to a variety of essential microorganisms also discourages the sedentary lifestyle common with today’s children. While exploring nature, they get lots of exercise in and this improves their chances of beating obesity, ADHD, Vitamin D deficiency, cardiovascular diseases, among others.
So, while proper sanitation and hygiene is very important, it’s a good idea to give your children a little bit of germ exposure by letting them explore their environment as much as possible. Let them play outdoors, explore nature and get dirty. Let them make sand castles and mud pies. Let your kids be kids! You could also have older kids help with gardening for more exposure to natural microorganisms.
Also, let them have a few pets, perhaps dogs and cats, to interact with. Experts say this will expose them to certain intestinal worms that aid having a healthy immune system.