As Auto-Immune Diseases skyrocket today, we are being vigilant in the search for causative factors. One factor that is increasing in awareness is the role of our environment. Typically, when we think of environment, we think dirt. We think about toxins in our home, work places, air, water, foods, etc. That certainly warrants investigation. We also look to potential microbes in our foods. It is common today to have foods pulled from the shelves because of some microbe making us sick. However, what is really raising eyebrows today is the opposite: Are we being too clean? Where’s the dirt?
Starting in utero, our bodies are developing an immune system, but at birth is when the real challenges begin. “Challenges” is the operative word. Our immune system needs to be challenged. The microorganisms found in the dirt on the floor, in the foods from the garden, in the air that we breathe, and even our own cells, are going through a kind of interrogation process. The body is supposed to learn early on if a particular microorganism it is exposed to is a threat or not. It “remembers” that exposure and files it away, so that on the next exposure it knows whether or not to ramp up its defenses, or ignore it. It is happiest when these exposures are tiny, miniscule exposures that it has time to learn about.
That’s where dirt comes in. Kids get sick so easily, that we are being overly-cautious to the point that we aren’t allowing their immune systems to have the schooling it needs. We jump to the “rescue” when a toy falls on the floor, washing or sanitizing it. We slather their hands with these alcohol-chemical-based “sanitizers” for fear they may have been exposed to something that could make them sick. We don’t allow them to play in the dirt, in muddy water, or anywhere a “germ” may exist. We have become so germ-a-phobic, that we kill anything and everything we perceive as a threat. It may be in the body already, so we gobble down antibiotics like candy, take fever depressors (which interfere with proper immune response) or over-vaccinate them to “prevent” a microbe from making a home of the body.
A new term is being popularized: the “Bored Immune System” when it comes to auto-immune diseases. Meaning that our immune system is “bored” and, with nothing else to do, decides to start attacking its own tissues. I think this whole theory is an insult to our body’s intelligence. There should be no excuse for a so-called “bored immune system”. With normal exposures our immune system should always be on alert for foreign invaders, constantly differentiating between healthy proteins and potential threats. According to Dr. Hans Ulrich Abonico, head physician for the Department of Complementary Medicine, Hospital of Lagnau, Switzerland, from birth the body is in constant interaction with its environment which either supports or attacks it, and childhood illnesses are imperative for building an intelligent, strong immune system.
Much of this starts in the gut according to Dr. Delespesse, Director of the Laboratory for Allergy Research at the Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal. He says that healthy bacteria are critical to healthy immune system differentiation of microbes and that non breast fed babies, antiboitics, preservatives in food and sterilized foods as well as many medications destroy the bacteria in the digestive system, thus decreasing the efficiency and function of the immune system. He recommends probiotics to replenish any lost intestinal flora. These probiotics have been consumed in the form of sauerkraut, kefir and many other cultural fermented foods for hundreds of years. This practice needs to be restored.
This is only the tip of the ice-berg, but a good place to start – from birth!
© 2013 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.