Hygiene Hypothesis

Is there such a thing as being too clean? Could our obsession with cleanliness actually be doing more harm than good to our overall health? A new study from Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health find an interesting relationship between rates of Alzheimer’s Disease and parasitic stress in the gut. This could represent another endorsement of having a diverse gut bacterial population.

Could Gut Bacterial Imbalance Cause Brain Illness?

We Americans seem to be obsessed with hygiene and cleanliness. Whether it’s the hand sanitizer dispenser at the end of virtually every aisle in the grocery store, the plethora of antimicrobial cleaning products, or our insistence on taking powerful antibiotics for every cough or cold, somehow or another we have bought into the mentality that bugs are bad and are waging a war against us at every turn.

As it turns out, in many ways the multitude of bacteria that exist in our world and within our bodies may actually be doing more good than harm. Within our intestines, for example, there exists a vast and expensive colony of living organisms upon which we are completely dependent for our wellbeing. Most of these organisms reside within the intestine and are called our microbiota. In fact, the number of organisms living within each of us outnumber the cells of our body by a factor of 10 to 1.

And it is these bacteria and other organisms including fungi and viruses that control any number of aspects of our physiology that determine health versus illness. Our immune function, levels of inflammation, ability to fight cancer cells, detoxification, and even absorption of various nutrients, are all intimately dependent upon the various species of organisms that live within the gut. Continue reading