by Karyn Michelle Wofford
I was reading an article the other day that discussed theories behind why Finland’s rate of type 1 diabetes has skyrocketed over the years, when poorer countries have not seen the same increase. Since the quality of living has improved over the years in Finland, people are leading “cleaner” and more sterile lives.
What does that have to do with anything?
The article further elaborated, saying that less wealthy countries are exposed to more germs. This seems like a bad thing, but apparently, when the immune system is occupied with basic germs, like ones that cause the common cold, it is less likely to “get bored”. When the immune system isn’t exposed to many germs, because of overly sterile and protected environments we tend to see in developed countries, it is suspected it may look for alternative activities, like destroying its very own home, your body. Thus another autoimmune theory is born.
So being too clean might be the cause of diabetes?
I don’t believe this will ever be announced as the sole cause, I think there are many reasons type 1 diabetes is taking us by storm. However this is promising news that could guide us in the right direction.
Another study used hookworms (not an ideal treatment, but still interesting) in prevent and slowing down type 1 diabetes. The hookworms distract the immune system, preventing further beta cell destruction.
What exactly does an overly sterile environment mean?
I’ll start with the big one, antibacterial products. They are everywhere…our soaps, bodywashes, fabrics, cleaners and sprays, and it is complete over kill. Antibacterial products destroy the delicate, beneficial bacteria balance. Good bacteria kill powerful, bad bacteria. When we kill off good bacteria, our sanitizing products sometimes aren’t strong enough to kill the bad ones, so ultimately we do much more harm than good. This is why staph infections are a problem in hospitals…they are too strong for many disinfectants and good, defensive bacteria have been killed off.
Secondly, many of us tend to seal ourselves in a bubble. It’s good to be cautious, but being over the top can damage your health. We need to be exposed to things, and so do our children, so a healthy immune environment can be established.
Things we can change.
Vinegar, natural soaps, water and baking soda are the only cleaning products I use. These get the job done while promoting a balanced environment.
Dump any body products containing antibacterial agents. They are not necessary in my opinion, and can harm your skin and body.
Let your kids be kids. They need exposure to germs and other children. Playing, dirt, some sniffles here and there, it’s all a part of life.
Find a balance.
Now this doesn’t mean let your kids go play in toxic waste. General hygiene needs to remain priority, we just need to change how we go about this. The earth has already provided us the tools for health. We just need to use them.
So for now, this a great leap forward for the diabetes and autoimmune disease community. Every day we gain more insight on how to prevent and possibly cure. To sum it up, nature seems to be the key in cracking the code. Go figure!