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Scientists Claim That Keeping Our Bodies Clean Does Not Have To Be Harmful To Our Immune Systems

A handwashing station at the Exmoor Zoo in Barnstaple, England, in a photo taken June 11, 2020 Photo: Harry Trump ( Getty Images ) Keeping your hands clean may not be as harmful for your immune system as you may think, according to UK experts.

The authors contend in a new research published this week that assertions about the so-called hygiene hypothesis are exaggerated, and that people gain in the long run by maintaining their home environment free of germs.

Yet, they claim that we do require constant interaction with our microbial neighbors, but only in certain circumstances, such as when we are outside in nature.

The hygiene hypothesis, first proposed by epidemiologist David Strachan in the 1980s, contends that a lack of early childhood exposure to germs can contribute to the development of immune-related diseases such as allergies.

According to the notion, our immune systems need these early contacts with bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms to be well-calibrated, and if we don’t get enough of them, we’ll overreact to non-harmful items like pollen or other allergy triggers.

Children who grow up in “dirtier” situations, such as farms or among a lot of animals, are less likely to acquire allergies than children who grow up in more sterile environments.

Some studies have found that certain infections, such as those caused by parasitic worms, are connected to a reduced risk of asthma.

Nevertheless, experts from University College London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine claim that the link between childhood hygiene and the likelihood of developing immunological disorders is more convoluted than popular belief.

They say in a review of the research published Monday in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology that proper hygiene measures should not be abandoned in the name of increasing microbial exposure.

Youngsters can still be clean in their daily lives, but they must be exposed to the correct sources of environmental microorganisms, according to the study’s authors.

In a statement released by UCL, lead author Graham Rook, emeritus professor of medical microbiology, said, “Exposure to microbes in early life is necessary for the’education of the immune and metabolic systems.”

“Yet, there has been a public narrative for more than 20 years that hand and home cleanliness measures, which are critical for preventing disease-causing pathogens, are also preventing exposure to beneficial organisms.” Rook and his co-author refer to evidence that so-called good bacteria are routinely exposed to people early on through their mothers and other family members.

On the other hand, there is less evidence that the numerous microorganisms prevalent in a typical modern home are crucial in the development of a healthy immune system.

There are also a lot of terrible germs that may be prevented from causing illness by taking simple precautions like handwashing, without having to worry about losing the vast supply of bacteria that exists in and around our bodies.

While children may not become sick as frequently as they once did, they are nevertheless exposed to a wide range of childhood pathogens; the difference is that these exposures are now more frequently occurring as a result of the systematic immunization schedule utilized in the United States.

and other nations

Vaccines have been demonstrated to elicit non-specific immune responses, educating the immune system in the same way as childhood illnesses did in the past.

(Contrary to popular belief during the epidemic, there is no evidence that immunizations damage our immune systems.) That said, excessive hygiene may be harmful to children, but in a different way than previously assumed, according to the researchers.

They cite studies that suggests increased exposure to chemicals found in many cleaning products may cause immunological dysfunction, which can lead to allergies and asthma.

Advertising A single review paper is unlikely to settle the hygiene theory argument.

The authors, on the other hand, hope that their paper will persuade people to think about cleanliness in a more sophisticated way.

Rather of always attempting to disinfect our indoor spaces, they argue that it is preferable to strive for targeted hygiene.

If we’re ready to consume something with our hands, we should wash them first; the same goes if we’ve just completed using the restroom.

But, there is no need to clean every inch of our homes on a regular basis, nor do we require “disinfection tunnels” in public spaces, as other countries did during the pandemic.

“Therefore cleaning the house is important, and personal cleanliness is good, but to prevent virus spread, it needs to be targeted to the hands and surfaces most frequently engaged in infection transmission, as discussed in some detail in the paper.”

We limit direct contact of children to cleaning agents by focusing our cleaning techniques,” Rook stated.

“We can get all the microbial inputs we need from our mothers, family members, the natural environment, and immunizations.”

These exposures are not incompatible with judicious hygiene or cleaning.”

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