Whenever one of the kinfauna whine that something "has germs," I have to take a deep breath and count to ten.
"Tell me," I say in a low, villain-esque voice, "what sort of terrible, horrible disease did someone get because a glass wasn't washed and dried until 'sparkling'?"
They smile sheepishly and accept the non-sterilized cup of water.
The scientific community has been retracting all of the disinfectant and antibiotic hysteria of recent years, now calling for discretion. Not only that, but some even encourage dirt exposure.
|From the OMO "Dirt is good" campaign|
There are many "gut" problems nowadays, and a number are caused by antibiotic overuse and sterile environments. Our kishkes are composed of a beautiful ecosystem of bacteria that keeps our bodies humming along smoothly, and antibiotics annihilate the good with the bad. It can take years to recreate that necessary population.
I have even read that those with a genetic predisposition to intestinal disorders ("Speaking Up About an Uncomfortable Condition" by Jane E. Brody), such as IBS, should actively expose themselves to germs:
Dr. Sartor also noted that early exposure to common viruses and bacteria can strengthen the immune system and keep it from attacking normal tissues.
“My advice to parents and grandparents is, ‘Let them eat dirt,’ ” he said.
Dr. Abigail Zuger reviewed Dr. Martin Blaser's book, Missing Microbes ("We Kill Germs at Our Peril"), who cautions against antibiotic overuse as well.
For other increasingly common conditions such as asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease, Dr. Blaser offers an inversion of the so-called hygiene hypothesis, which holds that by removing us from contact with outdoor microbes, sanitized modern life has allowed the immune system to spiral out of control. Instead, he suggests, blame rests on the distortion of our internal microbial world.
Don't get me wrong, antibiotics are amazing, but they have a time and place. Some doctors chuck them at their patients like Tic-Tacs, though, and too much of a good thing can be detrimental.
When I got sinus infections I would limp to my doctor and beg for a prescription, which he merrily provided. But it would have gone away anyway in the same time that I was popping those pills.
It's just amazing how Hashem set up this world, down to our symbiotic relationship with teeny tiny microbes.