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Are You Too Clean?

According to the New York Times, “Autoimmune disease affects an estimated 50 million people at an annual cost of more than $100 billion.”

Why? Because we’re too clean.

We’re destroying our “inner ecosystems” as the article puts it. We’re hand-sanitizing and sterilizing our food supply to death (literally).

In this case, the saying “paranoia will destroy ‘ya” is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. We’re so afraid of bacteria that we’re over-cleansing our lives, putting our bodies into biological backfire.

Basically, by removing every nuance of benign, biological threats, the body gets lazy. It becomes complacent and ends up with its defenses down when the serious stuff comes our way.

Surely you’ve heard about food-borne bacteria putting people in hospital (and causing cross-country vegetable paranoia every six months or so), but the real problem is that most people’s immune systems are so weak that they can’t handle a little bit of bacteria that our ancestors lived with daily!

Eating vegetables straight out of the garden without rinsing them is not the solution, however. You still need to wash them. There’s a delicate balance between protecting yourself from parasites and overdoing it to the point of destroying your body’s good bacteria.

Speaking of overdoing it, hand sanitizers are a quintessential example.

As Dr. Al Sears says in a blog post he’s titled “Why I Don’t Use Hand Sanitizer“:

Not only do you not need hand sanitizers to fight off germs, it’s a very bad idea to use them. What you really need to do is be exposed to bacteria and build a stronger immune system.

Some even hypothesize that the world’s relatively recent obsession with hand sanitizer may be making our immune systems hypersensitive to common allergens like gluten.

Not to mention, hand sanitizers don’t do much good against viruses like norovirus, either. And in at least one study, washing with good old soap and water worked better against diarrhea-causing bacteria.

So the lesson here is don’t be afraid of every little germ, wash your hands at logical times, and what doesn’t hurt you makes you stronger.

What are your thoughts on germaphobia? Click to comment!



  1. Janet Beck August 18, 2016

    Good article. I recognized this germaphobia years ago when everywhere you looked there was a bottle of hand sanitizer – offices, bathrooms, peoples’ desks, countertops in homes & doctors’ offices, etc. I viewed it as a fad of paranoia, then & now. All these “new” ideas come along, when the old-fashioned way & God’s basic plan still works!! As usual, God & common sense trumps science & greed.

  2. Martha Wong August 16, 2018

    Great article! It confirms what I have heard to be true.

    Regarding the accompanying recipe for “Wonderful Slaw Salad,” please send this suggestion to the HD computer experts:

    I often like to copy/print the recipes that accompany the daily health news. Often, I find that when I choose the “print” option (as in today’s recipe), the “directions” for the recipe print, but the “ingredients” are left off. Why? It is very inconvenient to have to copy the ingredients by hand. Can both be included with the “print” option?

    There have been other times when both have been included–so it obviously can be done. Thank you for making this possible for those of us who like our recipes on paper! I love HD!

    • Melody Hord August 17, 2018

      Hi Martha,
      Thanks for letting HD know about the printing not working right! I hope you love this slaw because I surely do. Finely processing salad components into tiny pieces is a fun and delicious way to eat a salad. I used to eat my huge salad without doing this, but found that my stomach couldn’t handle all the bulk. (I obviously wasn’t chewing it well.) Processing and even blending a salad has made a BIG difference in my life.

  3. This is a great article that clears up some confusion about hand sanitizes. I agree that we should not use them and they are destroying our immune systems.

    We want to protect the good bacteria in our bodies and not destroy it.

  4. Jennifer August 29, 2018

    I have never considered being too clean would be an issue. It does make sense that we need to let our immune system do its job so it doesn’t get lazy.

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