Everyone agrees nowadays that germs, bacteria, viruses, and molds, the little things that get us sick, make us ache, make us sneeze and cough, and give us a fever, are bad. So, we stock up on antibacterial soap, spray the house down (especially if there are kids around) with Lysol or some other antibacterial spray, and make sure that everyone gets their antibiotic medicine at the least sign of a cold or a fever. We now even have antiviral tissues as well as travel sized bottles of hand sanitizer. Just about all of us use at least one antibiotic product every day, whether it’s just to wash your hands or to clean up around the house or a squirt of hand sanitizer when there is no place to wash your hands.
But did you know that recent studies are suggesting that people have become too clean. Yes, you heard it right, too clean. It seems that all our products, medicines, and chemicals that we use to wage war of the evil bacteria and viruses also kills off the good bacteria. Yes, there is such a thing as good bacteria, such as the bacteria in your digestive track that helps you digest your food, or the bacteria that fights off other bacteria in your body so that things stay in balance and the bad bacteria stays in check. Also sometimes you just have to be sick in order to be well later. Your body’s immune system builds up defenses against bacteria that harm it, so a little cold which won’t kill you is probably best just left alone for your body to fight off so it can build up a certain amount of immunity to the bacteria that made you sick, although you can treat the symptoms so you’re not so sick feeling and can get on with your day. If you take antibiotic medicine at the first sign of a cold, you’re really doing your body an injustice.
Plus, they are showing that overuse of antibiotics could cause the bacteria to build up a tolerance to the medicine, thus making it hard or impossible to treat. Could you imagine if a cold germ mutated to where no antibiotics could help; it would probably wind up feeling like the flu rather than a cold, and could be come just as serious, especially to someone whose immune system is underdeveloped or damaged.
Think about how it is with children. Kids get sick all the time, and most parents overreact and end up keeping the kids in a very sterile environment. But kids need to get sick when their young, with minor things, to build up their immune system. They might have a pretty good start if they were breastfed when they were born, but it still has a lot of developing to do before it gets strong enough to keep the minor viruses and germs away. Because, if you keep a kid in that sterile environment so that he rarely even catches a little cold bug or a stomach bug, as bad as that sometimes is, what do you think is going to happen when he or she finally goes out into the world at the age of 18 or so and only has the immune system of a 6 year old? That’s right; they are going to get pummeled with every sickness they didn’t catch when they were younger, sometimes even the chickenpox, unless they put themselves in that sterile environment both at work and at home.
I’m not saying that washing your hands is bad, in fact its very good, just not with the antibacterial soap. Regular soap can remove germs just as effectively if you are scrubbing properly. It’s the friction of scrubbing your hands together that gets most of the dirt and germs off anyway. And antibiotics are useful medicine and they have saved a lot of lives since their discovery, but overuse of them for every little sneeze, fever, or cough can be detrimental to your health later on, and could contribute to the mutation of a bacteria which would be more difficult to treat. Hand sanitizers are useful too, but stand about the same with what I said earlier about hand soap. Pretty much the rule of thumb is “everything in moderation,” even cleanliness.
However, if you’re worried about your immune system being low, there are some things you can do to boost it, and to get some of those healthy bacteria back with you. First there are herbs and supplements that may strengthen your immune system, such as Echinacea which is made from flowering plant, Astragalus which seems to help improve the manufacture of immune cells from within the bone marrow, Garlic which has been known to help improve the immune system as well as fight off infection for hundreds of years, Goldenseal, and also most high-potency multivitamin/mineral supplements. To replenish good bacteria, a good way to start is to eat yogurt. Yogurt has live cultures of bacteria in it which improve you digestive system and help promote good bacteria throughout your body which may help prevent yeast infections and other over-growths of bad bacteria. But be sure to ask your physician if any of these supplements may affect any medications you are taking for other conditions.
Hopefully more people will start living healthy instead of just sterilized. Nature, germs, and bacteria are not all bad nor all good like so many other things and they require moderation. Only in a healthy balance in life can we truly remain healthy, so help you immune system do its work sometimes and perhaps help it out with herbal or mineral or vitamin supplements. Remember: there is such a think as too clean and its just as bad for you in the long run as being too dirty is bad for you in the short term.