Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: A few days ago, my toddler licked the bathroom floor. I shrieked. Maybe I shouldn't have. He could've chugged the toilet water and been a healthier boy for it. Turns out that yucky stuff is good for you.
According to new studies, popping pieces of dog poop in your mouth helps build a hearty immune system and the adventurous taster shouldn't be stopped, according to several new studies.
"What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment," Mary Ruebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor, wrote in her new book, "Why Dirt Is Good" and the New York Times reported. "Not only does this allow for 'practice' of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored."
When your little one eats some dirt, he also gets a healthy dose of bacteria, viruses and worms (yes, worms!) that help strengthen his immune system. When we slather our kids' hands with Purell, scrub our bathrooms with every cleanser concocted by Mr. Clean's scientists, it creates an environment devoid of organisms that build up resistance. The result? A prevalence of autoimmune disorders, allergies and asthma.
I don't consider myself a germ Nazi - I don't even own a bottle of Purell and I've never wiped the handle of my shopping cart with a wet wipe. I confess I've forgotten to wash my son's hands before lunch. But even I have my limits. Dog poop? My son brings home a new virus from daycare every week for my husband and me to try. Even so, I worry I'm not doing enough to toughen up his immune system. Maybe I should offer him a cup next time he eyes the toilet bowl.
|Ronda Kaysen is a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, BusinessWeek.com, Architectural Record, Huffington Post, New York Observer and AM New York. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.|