Is Our Germ-Phobia Making Us Sick?

Bacteria (“germs”) have such an mandatory and critical role in the environment and in our bodies that without them both would die. If we would die without bacteria, why do we have a germ-phobia?

A very tiny minority of bacteria (<0.1%) cause diseases. In reality, these harmful bacteria are poor competitors and just barely survive in the presence of the much more pervasive harmless and beneficial bacteria. Instead these toxic bacteria wait for an opportunity when the harmless and beneficial bacteria are adversely effected, and then they multiply and take over and as a result cause disease. This is why they are clinically called "opportunistic infections." In fact, it was recently reported that the appendix functions as a repository of harmless and beneficial bacteria that colonizes the gut after a disease process displaces them. In health care facilities, opportunistic infections occur because antibiotics and disinfections kill the pervasive harmless and beneficial bacteria allowing the harmful bacteria to flourish. Could the same be happening in our homes? The number of home products that "disinfect" and "kill 99%" of bacteria are growing rapidly and advertised regularly. These products are actually killing the beneficial and harmless bacteria giving the harmful bacteria opportunities! This could be the reason opportunistic infections are occurring outside health care facilities, i.e., in our homes and schools. It is well documented that children that grow up with pets in the home and otherwise called "dirty" have fewer allergies and asthma than children that grow up without pets in the home and otherwise called "clean". It appears that exposure to bacteria in childhood is important to growing up without allergies and asthma. So, are we too clean and focused on what we can't see? Do we need to rethink what the capitalist and advertisers are telling us about germs so they can sell us their products using false fear? Should everyone have pets and be less clean? Is our germ-phobia making us sick? The simple answer is an emphatic "Yes!"

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