I’ve raised two kids, and through the years, I cant even tell you how many times I’ve wiped dirt off faces or begged filthy children to wash their little hands. It was like a constant battle to keep them even remotely clean. Turns out, it might have all been in vain!
Brett Finlay is a professor at the University of British Columbia and co-author of Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World, and he believes that kids must be allowed to get dirty. He cautions parents and teachers from offering up hand sanitizer or foaming up soapy hands at every turn because it actually does more harm than good. It kills off the good germs, along with the relatively few bad ones. I guess little microbes found in dirt and dirty things play a crucial role in training a child’s immune system to respond correctly, and to populate the good microflora in their gut. I don’t know much about microflora in guts, but what I do know is that it’s pretty important!
“Finlay says studies have shown that kids who grow up on farms or have dogs at home are 20 percent less likely to develop asthma, the reason being that they’re always in contact with a greater number of microbes, often feces, which Finlay doesn’t see as a bad thing. Fecal transplants are being used successfully to repopulate good microflora in some patients whose intestinal microbes have been wiped out by antibiotic treatments.”
Looks like what his studies have shown and the science backs up is that keeping kiddos constantly clean is actually not the best thing to do. Well I wish someone would have told me that 20 years ago! But at least now, when I encourage people to go play in the dirt and Dig for Your Dinner, I can be talking to readers and their little people!
Get to diggin’