Ditch The Germicide, Pass The Mud Pie! Your Child's Immune System Will Thank You
"You can always tell a first time mother," she said, as we sat in the kitchen sipping our coffee. "They're always jumping up, running after the baby, worried about every little thing she touches. By the time the third one comes along, she's like, 'Oh look, the baby's licking a shoe--isn't that cute?'"
A quick glance at my toddler revealed the source of my friend's caffeinated blurt of wisdom--my eight-month old daughter, sitting quietly at my feet was teething on a sandal.
No, I didn't give it to her; she slipped it off my foot without me noticing. And no I didn't think it was cute, but I didn't panic either.
She was right.
You might be tempted to say a mother of several children just gets lazier. I say, she gets wiser or she won't survive.
It always seemed curious to me that children in small families, living in town with mothers that kept immaculate homes and doted over them-- were constantly sick. I noticed these families because, well in some ways, I envied them.
Although I couldn't stand the thought of raising a large family in a subdivision, raising kids in an old farmhouse was a lot of hard work.
Open windows welcomed the dust in from the fields, and a constant stream of little feet imported dirt and mud from every corner of the yard. It was hard enough to keep the house clean, but keeping it sterile was not an option.
Oh, and their favorite place to play? The barn. Followed closely by the large eight-by-eight foot sandbox under a magnolia tree. The boys built
treetop shanties tree houses and played army barefoot in minefields of manure the pasture.
In this week's reading of Jordan S. Rubin's The Maker's Diet I found the reason my kids were seldom sick. To this day, even as adults-- it takes a lot to knock them down. I used to think it was because I was such a good mother. Wrong. It was because God is such a good Father.
Rubin explains how science is just now discovering how the Creator designed our environment to keep us healthy. Which, it turn, also explains how we've messed up the process.
If you ever see a guy in a white lab coat, carrying a spoon and a sandwich bag don't worry. He's not an escapee; there's a good explanation. According to Rubin, everyday, scientists are traveling all over the world looking for new sources of soil microorganisms. They're looking everywhere from bat caves to undersea volcanos.
"Each exotic locale may yield a completely new discovery of germs--a gold mine of potential pharmaceutical profits. Some leading government officials and scientists in the United States suspect that organisms in our soil may yield powerful new treatments for AIDS, cancer, and other deadly diseases. Even the National Cancer Institute is funding research on soil organisms."
Science is discovering the healing treasures God placed in the soil for us. New antibiotics are being sought to replace the pool of antibiotics that are growing less effective as "super-bugs" mutate. As a good example of a current antibiotic that came from microbes in the soil the author points to streptomycin--the first treatment for tuberculosis.
The author's list of drugs that came from microbes in the soil are impressive, starting with cyclosporine, an anti rejection drug used in transplants. A drug that is used to cure parasitic infections that plague livestock and vancomycin, the drug of "last resort" for treating the toughest infections.
"Did you know that one gram of soil--enough to fill a little packet of sugar--can contain as many as 10,000 species of microbes unknown to science..."
No. I had no idea. An apparently science is now discovering that microbes differ profoundly from known bacteria.
So what does that mean to us? Should we allow the little darlings to eat their own mud pies in hopes they ingest the right microbe?
Hardly. What it does mean, is that while hygiene and cleanliness is vitally important to good health, so is the soil. Dirt made by our Creator, not only holds treasures of cures, but builds and trains our immune system. Rubin cites a report in New Scientist saying:
"Researchers have discovered that microorganisms found in dirt influence maturation of the immune system so that it is either functional or dysfunctional."
We've created an indoor environment with antibacterial soaps, homes laced with disinfectant and sofas decorated with children holding remote controls. Our farmlands are now sterilized by pesticides and herbicides that destroy the beneficial microbes alongside the harmful.
Rubin is convinced that our immune systems need regular exposure to naturally occurring soil organisms for long-term health-- so am I.
Go ahead; send the kids out to play in the dirt. Don't worry about that dust that's blowing in the open windows--it's "sterile."
Not everyone raise their children in the country. Do you have any creative ideas for parents who want to give their children a healthy immune system, but live in the city?
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Photo credit Shutterstock, Heidi Brand