Modern medicine era has proclaimed a war against microbes and has made all of us believe that all germs are bad for us. Most parents now carry hand sanitizers everywhere and slather them on their kids’ hands. But do we ever question what is in these sanitizers, anti-bacterial soaps, and wipes we use so liberally? The soap industry has been using triclosan in soaps, which is a pesticide and an endocrine disruptor,but these companies claim that their products are safe to use. Interestingly, current research shows these anti-bacterial products increase the growth of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Instead use regular soap that are not labelled as anti-bacterial. Understandably, with so much dirt around in our environment and potential of dangerous diseases, we have become very germophobic. However, the fact is that our bodies are made of trillions of bacteria and not all are bad. Our body does have some “good” bacteria that helps in proper functioning of various metabolic functions of our body. For example, latest research is providing evidence of how our gut bacteria plays a vital role in protecting us against various diseases. Hippocrates, father of modern medicine said that “All disease begins in the gut”. Therefore, a healthy gut is a precursor to healthy life. Even mental health conditions are now being considered as a condition of poor gut health. Some doctors have even claimed that some forms of depression and anxiety are related to poor gut health. The connection between gut and brain is an exciting emerging field. Dr.Perlmutter, author of the famous book “Grain Brain”, noted that eating highly processed fast foods, sugars, and gluten can potentially damage the brain. He encourages eating anti-oxidant and Omega-3 rich healthy fats for a healthy brain. To increase the amount of healthy bacteria in your kids, here’s a dirty guide-
- Encourage Connection to Nature- Most children are confined in schools or homes these days because they are spending more time studying for tests or playing video games. Instead encourage them to play outside in parks, do gardening, walk barefoot on grass, play in sand pits, or let them get dirty playing football. Playing in nature not only has the benefit of calming the mind but also helps in getting in touch with some microbes that can help in building body’s immunity.
- Increase Probiotic Foods- Age old traditions of preserving food through fermentation has gut healing effects. Foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and kefir are some of the superfoods with healthy bacteria. Try to prepare these foods at home with freshly bought organic produce. You may find these products in market shelfs as well, but they may have unnecessary sugar and other additives that may not be healthy.
- Avoid Antibiotics- Latest research is showing that anti-biotic medications tend to have severe impact on our bodies. These medications not only rob the body of bad bacteria but also the good bacteria. Antibiotics only help in killing bacteria and not fungal or viral infections. Overuse of antibiotics can have deleterious effects, as the body can get immune to the effects of antibiotics after a point rendering them useless. Avoid using antibiotics unless very necessary to fight a severe infection. Strengthen the immune system naturally with vitamin and mineral rich foods.
- Eat Locally Grown Honey- Dr. Josh Axe, author of the book “Eat Dirt” is an impassioned speaker on eating foods that increases the diversity of the microbiome in our body. The way our bodies adjust to the local weather and environment, similarly our body develops an immunity to the germsthat are unique to our geographical location. He suggests eating locally grown honey as it has highest amounts of healthy bacteria that can help in building immunity of the body.
- Avoid Synthetic Fragrances- Most perfumes, soaps, lotions, and other skin products use synthetic chemicals. These fragrances can impact the hormone functioning even if we passively inhale them or use them on the skin. They can potentially cause allergies, asthma, and headaches. An alternative is to use natural high quality essential oils as fragrances in shea butter or coconut oil to make a homemade lotion.
So, next time if your kids want to get their hands dirty then don’t freak out. Just make sure they wash their hand with regular soap and water before they sit down to eat food.