How Clean Is Too Clean - Practical Preventative Medicine.
We need to stop sanitising everything and let bacteria back into our lives. So said Ed Yong is his new book “I Contain Multitudes The multitudes within us and a grander view of life”. It seems that ever since Joseph Lister discovered bacteria in his microscope back in 1867, we began a war against bacteria of all kinds and disinfecting everything we could in fear of these tiny critters. It seems though this has been to out detriment with the ever increasing so called ‘super bugs’ that now have evolved to thwart all our efforts to make our lives and homes ‘germ free’.
The problem with the 99% germ free homes in which we are advised to live, is that our bodies, digestive systems and immune systems have evolved with millions of bacteria from the dawn of time and it turns out they actually do us more good than harm, and the 1% that we don’t kill become a lot more damaging than the millions we have killed off.
This has lead to a whole weakening of our defences and a reduction in our ability to digest foods and thus seems to be one of the reasons (not the only) that we see so many food intolerance's, children with constant illnesses, auto immune disorders and real fear of becoming even a little bit ill.
Consider for a moment the layers of the annihilation of the microscopic world. We spray our food with chemicals that kill not only the tiny bugs that can affect the productivity of our crops, but also the microscopic enzymes and bacteria that live in the soil and then use super-phosphate to create quick growing abundant crops. The super-phosphate then washed into our waterways causing blue-green algae and other environmental issues.
We are told to use hand washes and chemicals in our home that kill ‘germs’ and sterilize all our cookware with anti-bacterial this and that. We are even encouraged to carry little bottles of ‘hand sanitiser’ to wash our hands with everywhere we go and have very little to do with dirt at all (unless you’re a gardener of course).
And to top it off we take anti-biotics that kill all the good and ‘bad’ bacteria in our systems, often even when we have a simple virus (it doesn’t even kill viruses either, just makes them stronger) so our whole world becomes a sterile place and we, very weak and fragile bodies. Scientists are repeatedly warning of the problems with this behaviour and there is even a branch of medicine that uses faecal implants (yes, other healthy peoples poo) to stop the damage done by clostridium difficile colitis that is a severe imbalance of micro-bacteria in the colon that leads to bleeding and dehydration with a success rate of 97%. Says a lot.
There are as many million microscopic life that lives within us that there is stars in the milky way, and it’s important that we foster a healthy balance of these symbiotic critters in a number of easy ways.
Firstly, stop using anti-bacterial anything! Use soap and hot water to wash your hands, vinegar and bi-carb soda or natural based products that incorporate tea tree, eucalyptus, orange oils and keep it simple. Let your kids play in the dirt, have pets and let them pat sheep, cows, ever play with snails and worms! Then give them a nice bath using a simple bar of soap.
Wash your kitchens with hot water and vinegar if required. We stock some great natural cleaners and disinfectants in concentrate forms at the clinic and one bottle lasts a very long time. It’s helpful to see the immune system like every other part of the body, the more it is used the stronger it gets. Let’s incorporate the microscopic world and not fear it as we evolved with it and cannot live without it. The added bonus too is you save $$$ with all the products you no longer have to buy!
Until next time
Dr Angie Palmer
Registered Chinese Medicine Doctor.