We're living in a world with fewer and fewer germs. What's that you say? You think that's great? Not so fast! A recent op-ed in the New York Times posists that all those microorganisms present in dirt and, as a result, our bodies, are not only good for us — they're pretty essential to our survival. "As nature's blanket, the potentially pathogenic and benign microorganisms associated with the dirt that once covered every aspect of our preindustrial day guaranteed a time-honored, co-evolutionary process that established 'normal' background levels and kept our bodies from overreacting to foreign bodies," writes contributor Jeff D. Leach. He goes on to describe how our pre-industrial lifestyles exposed us to trillions and trillions of helpful microobes every day, which allowed our immune systems to evolve necessary, defensive responses to the challenges presented by our environment.
Lacking this naturalized cycle of adapation following exposure, humans have become increasingly prone to autoimmune disorders, allergies, and other inflammatory overreactions to the outside world. "Maybe it's time we talk more about human ecology when we speak of the broader environmental and ecological concerns of the day," Leach suggests. "The desctruction of our inner ecosystem surely deserves more attention as global populations run gut-first into the buzz saw of globalization and its microbial scrubbing diet."
You heard the man. It's time to get dirty!
Let's Add A Little Dirt to Our Diet from The New York Times
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