Growing up, I played outside in the dirt, around the garden and was taught to wash my hands with soap and water before eating. With what we understand about the influence of bacteria on our immune system, researchers developed the hygiene hypothesis. Today, children are exposed to less dirt, less germs, and more hand sanitizer.

In developed countries where children are exposed to less infections and less bacteria, there are higher rates of allergies and autoimmune diseases. With decreased infections, there are decreased microbial exposures. Bacteria and virus infections produce mostly a Th1 immune response which downregulates the normal Th2 immune response in a young child that develops in utero.1

In a 2004 study, medical researchers introduced cancer patients to M. Vaccae, a common soil bacterium, with the hope that this would improve outcomes and decrease death rates. While the bacteria had no effect in this regard, it did have an unexpected positive result: patients dosed with M. Vaccae showed a statistically significant increase in their quality of life. These improvements included a reduction of negative symptoms associated with chemotherapy, lessened pain, better functionality, and improved mood. The soil bacterium increased quality of life by prompting increased serotonin production in patients, in addition to other hormones and neurotransmitters.2,3

Suggestions to support your microbiome health:

  • It is critical to establish the microbiome in infancy and continue to foster its health.
  • Adding probiotics, including soil-based probiotics for diversity and durability in the intestine, are critical for supporting the microbiome.
  • Organic minimally processed foods given to children early in life along with fermented and cultured foods is essential.
  • Minimizing unnecessary antibiotic exposure is also beneficial.
  • Reducing toxic exposure is important for development of organ systems.
  • Exposure to dirt and playing outside should be fostered, children do not need constant hand sanitizer to remove all evidence of outside play. Many of these products contain triclosan which is an estrogen promotor on top of sanitizing effects.
  • Nutritional support for the immune system be beneficial role such as zinc, selenium, Vitamin A, C, and D.3

Press HERE to read our Healthy Living Blog post “Immunity and the impact of Vitamin D and chiropractic care on our bodies.” 

Press HERE to read our Healthy Living Blog post “How environmental toxins affect women’s hormones.” 


[1] Duramad P et al. Early environmental exposures and intracellular Th1/Th2 cytokine profiles in 24-monthold children living in an agricultural area. Environ Health Perspect. 2006, 114(12):1916-22.

[2] O’Brien, M E, et al. “SRL172 (Killed Mycobacterium Vaccae) in Addition to Standard Chemotherapy Improves Quality of Life without Affecting Survival, in Patients with Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: Phase III Results.” Annals of Oncology, vol. 15, no. 6, 2004, pp. 906–914., doi:10.1093/annonc/mdh220.

[3] Nutrition and Immunity Article accessed from Harvard School of Public Health: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nutrition-and-immunity/ on 11/7/21.

Feature Image credit: Elizabethsalleebauer/Getty Images/RooM RF

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