It’s springtime! That means many showers, mud puddles, and gardening adventures. The benefits of enjoying dirt have become well known in recent years. Many recent studies and medical professionals have discovered the benefits of probiotics. You may have heard of them: the good bugs that live in your gut. They have so many purposes in regulating the immune system and play parts in many reactions within the body. Many of these beneficial probiotics are found in the dirt! So maybe washing those farm-fresh vegetables and insisting children wash and sanitize constantly isn’t so beneficial?
The increase in public sanitation has most definitely contributed to a decline in disease and illness. However, this has also reduced exposure to many beneficial bacteria that help develop immune systems, especially in small children and babies. The introduction of the germ theory and the introduction of antibacterial soaps, sprays, and sanitizers has exploded. Perhaps, too much of something isn’t a good thing? Anyone who has experienced a sugar or caffeine crash or hangover would agree! Some studies have even gone as far as to suggest the overuse of these antibacterial products and the lack of “playing in the dirt” per se has lead to an increase in digestive issues and mood disturbances. Soil-based organisms specifically contain stronger strains of probiotics. They can typically survive longer in the gut and survive the journey to the gut. Probiotic supplements and fermented foods have many major benefits and ensuring regular dirt exposure will increase those benefits. It has been discovered the microorganisms and even worms in the soil can benefit the immune system and even redirect the immune system that has gone awry in autoimmune disorders.
Babies particularly benefit from soil exposure not just because of the organisms but because of the iron present in the soil. Iron can be absorbed from the soil when babies are exposed to it. Allowing babies and young children to play in the dirt can help maintain their iron levels for a longer period as well.
How to Get Enough Dirt!
Make an effort to come into contact with dirt and soil regularly. Allow your kids to play in the dirt ensuring it has not been sprayed with any chemicals and is safe from harmful debris.
- Garden together with your bare hands
- Come into contact with the ground with bare feet and allow babies to crawl around the dirt
- Create a “dirt play area” similar to a sandbox except with healthy dirt
- If you or your children are playing in clean dirt, don’t wash hands before eating to encourage a small amount of the good bacteria to reach the digestive system
Get dirty, have fun, and stay healthy!