Is Your Cleanliness Ruining Your Health?

Are you one of those “super clean” people who has a spotless house and maybe lots of little tubes of hand sanitiser placed everywhere – from your car glovebox, to the garden shed, to your handbag?

Did you know that you could actually be ruining your gut health? That mighty microbiome that is so crucial for so many aspects of our health, from making us feel good to keeping our immune system healthy, happy and not too over excited!

Or do you know somebody who is obsessed about cleanliness, but are always sick (or their children are always sick?)

 There is a reason for that. Antimicrobial products do just that – they kill bacteria – we have seen the Ads: “kills 99% of germs”… and here lies the problem. We evolved to live healthy lives alongside bugs of all shapes and sizes and oftentimes, if we get sick, it’s not the bugs’ fault but our immune system’s inability to defend itself, or failure to recognise “foreign invaders”.

These antimicrobial products don’t magically stop working when they encounter good bugs – they are indiscriminate (like antibiotics) and kill EVERYTHING. So when we put them on our skin, we kill the good bugs as well – these little guys are often bacteria, but that 1% that they don’t kill – well, they are the hard core bad guys.. and they have a party, because, all of a sudden there are no more good soldiers and its open slather. This happens on our skin, in our soil and in our gut as well.

Unfortunately, antibacterial products are everywhere – in our soaps (then they go down the drain and keep on killing… last year the U.S.A banned them  due to their potential for mass harm to the environment), in our clothes washes, in our shampoos and even in our toothpastes and mouthwashes. So now our body has been cleared of all its good soldiers (or a large number of them) and the bad dudes start attacking.

Australia is thinking of following the U.S example - but currently there are plenty of antimicrobial products available still 

When you consider that of the DNA that makes you – only 5% is actually yours and 95% consists of that mighty microbiome that lives in and on you!! In fact, when we go to the bathroom, half the weight of our poop is actually microorganisms. (feeling a bit creeped out right now?)

And they are supposed to be there, because not only do they help with our immune system, but they make some of our “feel good” chemicals such as GABA, dopamine and serotonin and also some vital nutrients such as vitamins B12 and K and biotin.  So, all of a sudden, these guys are not only starved (if we eat loads of processed foods), but they are under constant attack by chemicals that we pour into and upon ourselves. Of course, a dose of antibiotics acts like a carpet bomb and some new research postulates that it may take up to 3 years for your gut to recover from 1 dose of antibiotics – that means your immune system is compromised and you get more infections, then you end up with more antibiotics (a bit like a hamster wheel, isn’t it?).

But it’s also the water we drink – it contains chlorine – and that is not a bad thing – more people die worldwide form dirty water than from any other cause – but again, that chlorine doesn’t magically stop working when it passes our lips….

So, what to do? Of course, it’s handy not to die of a galloping infection, or to get a festering sore because we don’t attend basic hygiene. But we have all gone a little “la “la with our germ phobia!

·                     Just go back to that – basic hygiene – there is nothing to replace good old fashioned soap and water – research shows that it is as effective as the antibacterial stuff, but doesn’t destroy the balance on our skin. If you can’t get to soap and water – you are probably better of using a baby wipe unless you have handled a known contaminant.  

·                     If you must have antibiotics, talk to someone about what to do to replenish your good guys ASAP (and 1 probiotic tablet a day is NOT enough)

·                     Avoid antibacterial clothes wash, toothpaste or mouthwash – they are NOT necessary – it’s all just a ploy for you to buy the more expensive product. The best mouthwash is good old fashioned salt and water – if you like the peppermint taste – add a few drops of peppermint oil.

·                     Don’t buy grain fed meat – 70 % of vancomycin (a high strength antibiotic that needs special authority if administered in hospitals), is utilised by the livestock industry. Why? Well initially it was to prevent footrot (cattle stand VERY close together in feedlots and spend their lives standing in each other’s’ poop). But the farmers actually found that they get fatter if fed antibiotics- maybe because it destroys their gut flora and there is research current that suggest poor gut health = weight gain???

·                     Filter you water – easy – get rid of the chlorine before it gets in your gut.

·                     Eat foods to encourage the growth of the good guys – eat the rainbow (and I am not talking Skittles here!) – choose fresh fruits and veggies from all spectrums of the rainbow as that colour is food for your microbiome.  These foods are also high in fibre – our good guys love this!

Of course, this is in no way a comprehensive list. If you are constantly sick and you are on that Hamster wheel – come and talk to us – we will help you get off and get some balance back onto your life.

The Complexity of our gut and our microbiome

The Complexity of our gut and our microbiome