Dirt Doesn’t Hurt
Our bodies are teeming with microbes – inside and out. Our health is dependent on the health of these microbes.
Antibiotics, pesticides, antibacterial soaps, sprays, wipes, and hand sanitizers play an enormous role in our lives. We are taught that cleanliness is next to godliness, and that germs are bad.
While hand washing with soap can prevent certain illnesses, it is more important that we maintain close contact with various microbes in order to stay healthy.
We are discovering that many microbes play an important role in keeping us healthy. The “old friends” theory of health states that the obliteration of microbes in and on the human body has led to a tremendous decline in human health. This includes a significant increase in allergies and inflammatory conditions.
Antibiotics are given to us when we get infections, and are fed to livestock to help them grow heavier on a lower calorie diet. Pesticides kill predators on our foods. But they also kill the microbes in the soil, resulting in crops that are devoid of the micronutrients we need for optimal health. Antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers kill not only the bad germs that cause things like colds and flu, they also kill the beneficial and commensal microbes that live in and on us.
All of the antimicrobial products greatly decrease the natural diversity of our “old friends” and inhibit our ability to adapt to this “cleaner” environment. The greater the diversity of our ecosystem, the better our health.
In addition to trying to kill every possible germ in our environment, our contact with a healthy microbial population is limited. We spend an inordinate amount of time indoors and away from the great outdoors. And most of us spend very little time digging around in healthy soil, walking barefoot, hugging trees, or picking the foods we eat.
Our “old friends” do a lot for our health. Organisms from the soil help keep us healthy by generating vitamins B, K2, certain enzymes and antioxidants. A healthy population of bacteria in the gut help to crowd out pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Soil-based organisms bind to toxins and help us eliminate them from the body.
In fact, some doctors, like myself, are using soil-based organisms to effectively treat many conditions including: asthma, allergies, IBS, gas, bloating, ulcerative colitis, nausea, indigestion, infections, and autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.
You can increase your exposure to soil-based organisms and other healthy microbes in many ways.
- First, take a soil-based probiotic. I use two different soil-based probiotics in my practice that I give to almost all of my patients. I find these supplements far more effective than other, non-soil based, probiotics.
- Avoid food sources that have been given antibiotics – eat grass fed beef and lamb, wild game, pasture-raised pork, chicken, and eggs, and wild caught fish. Antibiotics in your food will affect your own microbiome.
- Don’t go overboard with anti-bacterial sprays, soaps, wipes, and sanitizers. A little germ exposure is good for you, just wash your hands with regular soap. Touching a shopping cart without wiping it down is not going to kill you!
- Play in the dirt, hug trees, walk barefoot, garden, be outside.
- Eat and drink fermented foods. Kombucha, Kefir, and raw fermented vegetables are the best food sources of probiotics.
- Lastly, eat local, preferably organic foods, that have not been sprayed with pesticides. The soil on this type of produce is healthier, which translates into happier bugs and more nutrients in your food.
Most importantly, remember that God made dirt, so dirt can’t hurt. In fact, dirt is good for you. It could be the missing ingredient to your health.