March 25, 2012
Scientists are now confirming what many natural health advocates have been saying for years regarding the role bacteria plays in the body. Bacteria, and exposure to bacteria on a daily basis, is essential to a proper immune system. With many parents ensuring that their children are virtually never exposed to enough bacteria through sanitizing everything they touch with triclosan-containing antibacterial wipes and gels, children worldwide are not being exposed to an adequate amount of immune-bolstering bacteria in the environment.
Adults are also being effected, as many individuals feel that virtually all germs or bacteria are bad and make a large effort to scrub them from their daily life. The new research, which simply enforces what has been known for centuries, shows that problems can arise when your exposure to germs is decreased. In fact, it could make you sick. The concept is referred to as the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, which essentially says that diseases affect more individuals in the modern world where hygiene and mobile sanitizers are king.
The new study comes from the Women’s Hospital in Boston, and shows just how drastically bacteria exposure can affect the health of you and your entire family. Researchers examined two groups of mice with very different outcomes. The first group was exposed to a normal bacteria environment, while the second was completely germ-free. The scientists then compared the immune systems of both groups, finding evidence that powerfully demonstrates the importance of bacterial exposure.
Not only did the mice which were exposed to microbes have stronger immune systems than the germ-free mice, but the germ-free mice had significant inflammation in their lungs and colon — similar to asthma and ulcerative colitis in humans. One immune cell in particular, the invariant natural killer T cell, was particularly hyperactive as well.
“There is a very beneficial role for microbes in health,” senior study author Dr. Richard Blumberg said.
While it can be a challenge in modern society, it is important to allow yourself natural exposure to bacteria in the environment. Something known as ‘grounding’ may be particularly beneficial. Grounding is simply the practice of coming into contact with the earth while barefoot, which has been shown by peer-reviewed research to help remedy a number of conditions. It is also highly important to consume an adequate amount of probiotics in food or supplement form, also known as the ‘good bacteria‘. Fermented food items such as sauerkraut, tempeh, miso or kefir are all rich sources of probiotic bacteria.