Can We Be “Too Clean?” – Not Currently. Given the current situation with COVID-19 there is no debate that washing your hands regularly for over 20 seconds is highly important in limiting the spread of the virus and a healthy immune system helps you fight it.
The definition of cleanliness has been a subject of considerable discussion for many years, because, on one side of the fence, regular cleaning decreases the number of disease-causing bacteria and viruses as we are very aware of currently.
On the other hand, some researchers claim that when exposed to pathogens and allergens frequently, our body’s immune system needs to work harder, which may improve our autoimmune response to the different bugs that we may encounter in our everyday lives.
What’s the facts telling, then?
Researchers found in a new study that children who bit their nails or sucked their thumb-habits frequently discouraged by parents-were half as likely to have allergies at age 32. The children’s immune systems are believed to be improved due to repeated exposure to the bacteria that were either under the nails or on the hands.
This new discovery— the hygiene theory coined — may explain why allergies are more prevalent now than they were during the Victorian era — a period when hygiene was much worse.
Over the past twenty years, there has been a gradual rise in allergies, but no-one can completely understand why. In the United Kingdom, for example, at some stage in life one in four people suffer from an allergy, with a rise in the number each year. While some evidence supports hypotheses of germ exposure, experts emphasise that many important factors like diet, exercise, environmental conditions, antibiotic usage, and a family history of allergies may also play a greater role in the development of allergies.
It is of course very necessary to maintain great standards of personal and home hygiene! Avoiding and preventing infection from spreading to others by covering your mouth when you are sneezing (especially when you are sick) or washing your hands after using the toilet are solid practises!
The evidence available seems to support the following:
- Children born at a farm develop less allergies (possibly due to proximity to farm animals).
- Chemicals used in household cleaning items are NOT associated with any spike in allergies.
- The bathing or showering duration is NOT associated with an increased risk of allergies.
- Antibiotic use IS related to allergy (by disrupting the balance of good and bad bacteria in the body).*
- Vaccines are NOT directly correlated with the growth of allergies.
Diet changes have been linked to the rise in allergy, particularly in infancy. The introduction of “high allergy” foods such as nuts, seeds, milk, soy, wheat / gluten, and egg AFTER at least six months of breastfeeding exclusively (during the weaning process) may reduce the number of children who develop allergies in later childhood.
Osteopathic modifications benefit the immune system which we know a strong immune system is essential in fighting viruses.**