Kids need to get dirty to ward off disease, says microbiologist
You watch a child pick up a blob of gum off a dirty street and cringe at the sight of it being plopped in their mouth and chewed for the second time.
What makes a scenario like this worse — that child is yours.
But before you freak out about the microbes your kids may be ingesting, says UBC microbiologist B. Brett Finlay, you should know many of the bugs are actually good for them.
"We're finding these microbes help our bodies train the immune system," Finlay, co-author of Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child From An Oversanitized Worldtells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.
Finlay says scientific research is increasingly linking a lack of microbial diversity in children's guts to the rise in these Western diseases, though the causes and effects have yet to be fully understood.
But he advises parents let their need for cleanliness drop a little — within the bounds of common sense.
"For the poor germophobe mothers out there," says Finlay. "I feel sorry for them because they're trying to do the very best."
"We've been told keeping your kids clean is the best thing you can do for them. But unfortunately the science is now telling us it's not the best thing to do."
This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley.