Why you should let your kid play in the dirt

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Apparently, there is such a thing as "too clean"

These days, most kids are discouraged or entirely forbidden from playing in the dirt. Instead, these kids are kept indoors, in play areas sterilized to death with antibacterial wipes and sprays.

Can being "too clean" make you sick?

Modern hygiene has lowered incidences of many diseases, but plenty have attributed the increasing numbers of allergies and autoimmune problems to being “too clean.” Dr. Brett Finlay noted in The Wall Street Journal that though “diabetes, allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel diseases, autoimmune diseases, autism, obesity, and certain types of cancer” are hereditary, their growth “cannot be explained by genetics alone.”

More and more studies have cropped up linking kids' germ-free lifestyles to health problems later in life, or linking microbes found in dirt and soil to stronger immune systems.

Photo: Public Domain Images

Photo: Public Domain Images

Microbes help the immune system

According to WebMD, research has found that exposing young children to certain germs could help their immune system better protect them as they get older. “Most of the germs lurking about our environment and that live on our bodies are not only harmless; they've been with us for millennia,” Dr. Martin Blaser of the New York University told WebMD.

"These perform important physiological functions but because of modern life they are changing and some are disappearing," Blaser continued. "Those disappearances have consequences—some good, some bad."

On the next page: how microbes help with metabolism and what parents should do.

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