The hygiene hypothesis – the theory that early exposure to dirt and germs programs your immune system to properly identify and countermand threats – has been gaining slow but steady support over the past decade. According to this theory, if you’re healthy, exposure to bacteria and viruses can serve as “natural vaccines” that strengthen your immune system and provide long-lasting immunity against disease.
You’re not meant to exist in a bubble, isolated from life. You’re designed to spend time outside, play in the dirt, be active — and to get dirty and encounter and develop lasting immunity against potentially infectious agents.
There’s an antibacterial solution for every area of your life and if you’re not wiping down your counters and cleaning your hands with antibacterial soap, you’re taking antibiotics.
Your diet, too, is probably largely devoid of the natural bacteria that makes food – and you – healthy, as most of what is consumed is highly processed, refined and pasteurized. This over-zealous avoidance of bacteria and viruses comes at a steep price, the rise of numerous related diseases, including:
- Asthma and allergies
- Immune system diseases (autoimmune disorders, etc.)
- Heart disease