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‘Dirt Is Good': Your Kids Need Exposure to Germs, According to New Research

A new book, “Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System,” highlights the importance of honing your child’s immune system by not fretting so much about sterilizing their life — or their hands. According to Boostarz, the book encourages you to let your kids get dirty and, when it’s time, skip the sanitizer in favor of simple soap and water. The book also advises parents to feed their kids a diet rich in fiber and colorful vegetables, and to reduce their sugar intake.

It’s true that your health and that of your children is directly related to the quality of the food you eat. For example, a study of nearly 1,000 infants from rural areas in Austria, Finland, France, Germany, and Switzerland showed that children who drank raw milk had a 30 percent lower risk of respiratory infections and fever compared to those who did not. They were also 41 percent less likely to develop asthma and about 50 percent less likely to develop hay fever.

But in the same breath, as this new book shows, it’s also true that spending time outdoors in nature, and being exposed to certain microbes in the earth is another path to good health. In fact, the rising rates of asthma, allergies and other autoimmune conditions among children may be the culmination of a dirt-free childhood, as children need exposure to microorganisms in order to develop healthy immune systems.

Spending time outdoors is also good for your mood and emotional stability. From gardening to barefoot walks in a park, there are a number of ways for you to get “back to Earth” and help revitalize your and your children’s health. I love barefoot walking myself, and I encourage you to try it yourself the next time you go outside. Take off your shoes and spend some time walking barefoot in the grass, sand or mud — and encourage your children to do it, too.
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