12 May Put Down the Hand Sanitizer and Step Away!
For the love of wisdom (the definition of philosophy), stop hyper sanitizing your kids! I grew up before hand sanitizer was around. I remember living in extremes — either covered in hay and literally dusted with manure while visiting my aunt’s farm or tidied up for church and squeaky clean. And I lived to blog about it. You did too. Among the plethora of internet pointers, this one is top priority and easy to do!
The wisdom that us Revolutionary, Evolutionary parents get is that dirt and germs are our friends, not our foes. They are here to develop, stimulate, and mature our immune systems, help us digest, signal our brains and organs, and perform a million other functions that are totally important but have not been discovered yet.
Life is smart, and Life put a bunch of unseen friendly critters in the world and in our bodies to help us out. Revolutionary, Evolutionary parents understand that the universal intelligence that organizes the universe also organizes our internal and external environments. We trust it as completely as we trust ourselves to dive into an icy river to save our child’s life.
That’s what we know.
The microbiome. Heard of it? We can’t see this invisible caucus of bugs but the health of it directly, vastly affects our well-being.
Here’s the definition I borrowed and simplified from Wikipedia:
“The human microbiome is the community of microorganisms that resides on the surface and in deep layers of skin, in the saliva and mouth and in the gastrointestinal tracts (stomach and intestines). There are more micro-organisms that live in and on our bodies than the number of our own cells. Most of the microbes associated with humans appear to be not harmful at all, but rather assist in maintaining processes necessary for a healthy body.”
We have discussed before that through epigenetic influences that the majority of gene expression is induced by other factors. Researchers are now realizing that your microbiome may be among the most important epigenetic factors, as genes are turned on and off depending on which microbes are present!
One of my favorite health websites, Mercola.com, says, “Emerging science also shows that your microbiome can be rapidly altered, for better or worse, based on factors such as diet, lifestyle, and chemical exposures.”
The constitution of you and your child’s microbiome transforms your bodies and minds in many important ways:
- It regulates healthy body weight. (1)
- Your mood is directly affected by the types of microorganisms in your gut. Happiness and depression are connected to the health of your microbiome. (2, 3)
- A balanced microbiome can help prevent autoimmune disease. (4)
- A diverse and well developed microbiome protects your kids’ bodies from childhood diabetes (5).
- It will strengthen your child’s immune system and prevent allergies. (6)
- Having a healthy brain and protecting your memory is linkedto the state of your internal biome. (7)
Do you see why I felt compelled to blog about this topic- who doesn’t want their family to be well, especially when it takes so little effort? The direct and indirect benefit of healthy microbiomes is conclusive! Navigating parenthood’s most important and persisting questions and quandaries is what my blog and the Holistic Headspace community are all about!
The Action Steps
Let your kids live in the world and touch things in public places. Do not wipe down the shopping cart. Do let them eat dirt and sand (most spit it out anyways). Don’t freak out about shared ice cream cones and straws. Seriously, haven’t most kids eaten from the cat bowl and lived to tell about it?
Do teach them to wash their hands, brush their teeth and bathe regularly.
Reaffirm that the world is not a seething den of germs waiting to kill them but a symbiotic (helpful) community of creatures great and small (from the animal kingdom to the kingdom of bacteria).
Throw out the hand sanitizer. Seriously, do it. Your kids will be healthier and you will be less stressed trying to fight the losing battle against the invisible. (If you are addicted, switch to wipes that do not contain any disinfectants.)
Or view this short animated Ted Talk, “You Are Your Microbes.”
Think of all the money you will have for chocolate (for you!) when you stop buying hand sanitizer. Think of all the fights about licking door handles you can avoid.
And think about the legacy of well-being you are instilling in your sweet child — it’s not only worthwhile, it’s the Revolutionary, Evolutionary thing to do!
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