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    • A study from The University of Colorado seems to show that for both mental and physical health, let the good times roll in terms of pets, dust and dirt. I've wondered for awhile if being exposed more increases the strength of our immune systems, just like stressing the muscles and bones to a point makes us stronger.

      This study indicates that the hygiene hypothesis seems to apply to stress as well. More exposure to microbes leads to better response to stress.

      Do you believe it? Are you gonna ditch the hand sanitizer?

    • I don't believe it, and I'm not gonna ditch the hand sanitizer. ๐Ÿ˜›

      The experiment described in this study measured a specific inflammatory response in a single specific scenario, and the groups tested weren't chosen based on any criteria related to hygiene, so I think it would be wildly speculative to conclude that the results of this study have any implications on overall health or on how hygiene practices relate to health.

      The two groups studied were:

      - Physically and mentally healthy, non-smoking, non-drug-taking white men who grew up before age 15 in a city without pets
      - Physically and mentally healthy, non-smoking, non-drug-taking white men who grew up before age 15 on a farm keeping farm animals

      The study specifically selected for participants who were already healthy and didn't select at all for hygiene practices. So, for example, it presumably didn't distinguish between men who grew up in a city and showered once a week versus men who grew up on a farm and showered daily.

      In other words, there's nothing here that actually indicates that less hygiene leads to better general health. There may or may not be other studies about that, but that's not what this one's about. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I am not a doctor, but understand a little. I think it is clear the more exposure you have to pathogens, the greater your immune library is, which is better for fighting bugs off later on.

      I have been exposed a lot. I have lived in different countries, three of them in the third-world. I have been exposed to all sorts of viruses and infections. I have caught all sorts of food poisoning you can imagine and I have been in malaria infested areas.

      Today, while all my friends in the Bay Area are in bed sick, I barely feel it. I don't even remember the last time I was knocked out in bed.

    • I've read numerous things that suggest your post is true or has many true elements. The increase in asthma is sometimes attributed to having too sterilized an environment. Studies show a very strong correlation between kids having pets and stronger immune systems. The evidence mounts but nothing diffinitive at this time. Complexity rules the day and therefore when in doubt go play in the mud.

    • Never been a huge fan of hand sanitizer or antibacterial soaps. Regular soap and water or Gojo to get the grease off. Of course, there are times when a hand sanitizer/antibacterial soap is appropriate but most of the time, soap and water gets the job done.

      I will say that it's important to know HOW to wash your hands ;)

    • I feel somewhat adrift on this topic and wishing we could find some authoritative guidance. On the one hand, hand washing and sanitizing has definitely been shown to reduce infection rates in hospitals. But is that because there are so many immune-compromised people there? A physician friend of ours says doctors and nurses build up tremendous immunity via exposure.

      For example, studies show that around 4.6% of medical workers in hospitals test positive for the contagious superbug MRSA when they get nasal swabs. They don't show symptoms because they built up immunity over time. But the question is how to keep those infected workers who carry MRSA from infecting patients. Any doctors in the house can correct me.

    • I get exposed to avian diseases, and mosquitos as I raise ducks, geese and now peafowl. Plus we don't let mosquito abatement spray our frontage and have a pond that even though has frogs and fish some sneak through. I think the more bacteria we are exposed to helps built the gut biome diversity. Even with the viruses I hope I am getting exposed to to build a defense, just like an immunization.

    • I not only believe it now, I've believed it for years. I don't think this is a new concept. The first time I read about it, the issue was children. And it was found that exposing kids to dirt, microbes, bacteria etc helped build their immune systems. Furthermore, depriving them of that exposure increased the odds that they'd develop allergies.

      Let's take it a step further. Your body, my body, is host to a vast universe of critters, a microbiome. Our health depends upon them. They come, the go, our microbiome changes depending upon our environment.

      Now, we're aboard a spaceship, traveling to a distant star. The ship is either close to being sterile, or it's a time capsule of the microbial environment that existed when the doors were closed and off it went into space. The people onboard are divorced from Earth's evolving microbial environment.

      What happens to their health, years into their journey? The human species has never been completely separated from Earth's microbes. We have an interdependent relationship. Will the space travelers fall ill? Will they experience unexpected problems, unexpected because we've never done what they're doing?

      In my opinion, solving this problem is right there at the top of the list of things which must be solved before humans can safely travel the enormous distances of space.

    • Antibacterial soaps and body washes are being phased out, I've learned, by order of the FDA. (This doesn't include hand sanitizer products.)
      One issue is the most common active ingredient:

      "In addition, laboratory studies have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Some data shows this resistance may have a significant impact on the effectiveness of medical treatments, such as antibiotics."

    • I didn't bring up the problems with anti-bacterial soaps and sprays but you're correct about the impact they have on medicine. I also believe the harder you try to kill the bacteria, the hardier it becomes.

    • A few days ago I started to get an ache in the side of my head, which I slowly recognized as a tooth ache. So I went to the dentist. She sent me to a specialist. A year ago I had a root canal on this tooth and the infection at the base of it didn't die but continued to grow bigger and create bone loss.

      The specialist asked if I had taken antibiotics when I got the original root canal. I said no, the dentist didn't suggest it. He said that's the thing, the success rate of oral operations like that is higher if you take the antibiotics. Now they have to go in to remove the infection and replace bone loss.