Friday, September 20, 2013

"The Hygiene Hypothesis", We should all be like 'Pigpen'

"Just look at you; you've been outside only ten minutes
 and your clothes are a mess." 
So what are the historical foundations of good health and vitality before humans came along and created those major imbalances to the Natural World which have given us far more disease and illness than previously ? Seriously, we are now at that promised future time in history in the age of enlightenment where most of these past plagues of mankind are not only still with us, but in many cases have morphed into things often times more serious than previously experienced in the past. Historically where severe sickness plagued certain civilizations at one time or another, it was the result of unsanitary living conditions brought on by people moving to city centers where people practically lived on top of one another and proper hygiene wasn't exactly even an expression word or term used or even known back then. But traditionally, people in more rural settings were not necessarily plagued the same way if at all by the conditions experienced in the cities. Of course there will always be exceptions. Talking to African friends, they have said that some of the common allergy problems that exist in Industrial Lands are not present there in Africa. Why ? A lot has to do with them living a more outdoors lifestyle.   

"Peanuts Wiki"
Incredibly, getting ourselves outdoors and doing things like gardening and getting a little dirt and grit under our fingernails is actually a good thing. We are biologically a part of the Natural World with all of it's micobiological critters like bacteria and viruses the majority of which are friendly and good for us. Some like our own gut bacteria we have a symbiotic relationship with. Without them we'd starve without their ability to process what we enjoy eating. Plants have the same type of digestion symbiosis, but more of an external as opposed to our internal. Hence the often used term 'primitive' in describing such an amazing group of living organisms is really unfair. They are truly complex and in many ways a part of us. If we could illustrate through some type of an intense magnification and illumination device, we'd probably all look like the famous 'Peanuts' character "Pigpen" with that ever present cloud hovering around our bodies everywhere we went. Too bad the peanuts-wiki had this to say about that well known character.
"Charles M. Schulz admitted that he came to regret "Pig-Pen's" popularity, given the character's essentially one-joke nature; he utilized the character very rarely in the later years of the strip's run."
So everyone loved 'Pig-Pen' (actually me too). I think it is because I could identify with him, and his little cloud of swirling dust. I was always outdoors as a kid. Remember the little boy saying - "sticks and snails and puppy dog tails" ? Yeah, me, and proud of it! *smile* Children today for the most part in the Industrial Societies with all manner of electronic gadgetry, are sadly foreigners when it comes to Nature and the outdoors in general. That's why the phrase has been coined "Nature Deficit Disorder". They have been brought up in an Anti-Bacterial world advertised and sold to us by Industrial Science over many generations. Of course it was all for our own good and who would dare question the authority of the then known Science back then. How often did kids back in the 50s and 60s hear their mother say the above quote at the top of this page where the little boy got his brand new clean clothes soiled ? Funny, sometimes it's still like that today. Old traditional genomically imprinted paradigms given birth to decades ago are hard to cast off. 

But this is where researchers in recent years have come up with something called, "The Hygiene Hypothesis". Here are some quotes from the Wiki article on the subject:
" . . a lack of early childhood exposure to infectious agents, symbiotic microorganisms (e.g., gut flora or probiotics), and parasites increases susceptibility to allergic diseases by modulating immune system development." (source)
 Or in other words, we in the industrial lands have sanitized ourselves sick or to death. It is well known that the incidence of allergies in children has risen since we have become overly preoccupied with sanitation of our world around us. The education from the past was that all those little creepy germs were bad for us. Then another  Hygiene Hypothesis article has this to say:
"Viewed through the lens of the hygiene hypothesis the modern obsession or preoccupation with sterility, equating it with cleanliness and goodness, is revealed for what it is. An unhealthy cultural artifact that arose as a consequence of the more immediate and apparent benefits from adopting modern sanitary practices and technologies. Eliminating typhoid and cholera has saved millions of lives in the aggregate since sewers and clean drinking water was introduced in North American and Western Europe for instance. But in so doing we caused the rise of the modern diseases involving immune dysregulation."  (source)
image: John Kelly
Recently there was an article on the research work done around the Chicago Metro area where it was found that water from storms drains which also feed off industrial sewage overflows, can be contaminated with all manner of pharmaceuticals like, Triclosan, which is a synthetic antibacterial widely used in personal home care products. Unfortunately, it appears to be fueling the development of resistant bacteria in streams and rivers. So the journal Environmental Science and Technology, attempted to document Triclosan resistance out in the natural environment. They have found this antibacterial resistance out in the wild, but created an experiment with an artificial stream to prove how it happens.

image: John Kelly
Article's Abstract: 
Antibacterial Products Fuel Resistant Bacteria in Streams And Rivers
Triclosan (TCS) is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial compound that is incorporated into numerous consumer products. TCS has been detected in aquatic ecosystems across the U.S., raising concern about its potential ecological effects. We conducted a field survey and an artificial stream experiment to assess effects of TCS on benthic bacterial communities. Field sampling indicated that TCS concentrations in stream sediments increased with degree of urbanization. There was significant correlation between sediment TCS concentration and the proportion of cultivable benthic bacteria that were resistant to TCS, demonstrating that the levels of TCS present in these streams was affecting the native communities. An artificial stream experiment confirmed that TCS exposure could trigger increases in TCS resistance within cultivable benthic bacteria, and pyrosequencing analysis indicated that TCS resulted in decreased benthic bacterial diversity and shifts in bacterial community composition. One notable change was a 6-fold increase in the relative abundance of cyanobacterial sequences and a dramatic die-off of algae within the artificial streams. Selection of cyanobacteria over algae could have significant implications for higher trophic levels within streams. Finally, there were no observed effects of TCS on bacterial abundance or respiration rates, suggesting that bacterial density and function were highly resilient to TCS exposure. 
Incredible! This triggered my finishing this post which I had already thought about and started, but just left it sit around for some months. For all the knowledge that the enlightened gang on this planet have at their finger tips, why do we still have and live in this artificial world we have now ? Mostly it has to do with Corporate P&L Statements. That's Profit and Loss bottom-lines. Acquiring the Big Coin is a strong motivational driver. Yet, the resulting consequences which have resulted in allowing them control the foods industry  defies all logic. But remember that newer modern day version of the "Golden Rule" ? "The one with the Gold makes the Rules".

Daniela Maschek, Institute for Wood Biology
and Wood Products, Göttingen, Germany
That's really what defines our world, among other imperfections and flaws. There was also recently another great article about the microbial world in the American Journal of Botany Rhizosphere Interactions Special Section. This is an incredible world mostly unknown and overlooked by most humans. Yet it is a foundation for all other biological life. Without them, all much larger physical life would cease to function. Wonder what we'd find it we took a closer look at Nature's P&L Statement ? With Nature however, this is known as Nature's own checks and balances. It's a system where everyone and everything benefits for FREE. As the article noted in the beginning: "We often ignore what we cannot see, and yet organisms below the soil's surface play a vital role in plant functions and ecosystem well-being." But most people don't actually know this. They are never taught this in schools early on and they should. Not that this is a secret, it's not. But people have been so thoroughly trained by every manner of television, radio and/or journal advertising scheme that the Industrial Brand Name Corporate Science has now made gardening and landscaping easier, cleaner  and more convenient for you. Actually, that is a lie. It is not more convenient, time saving and cheaper and the horrible end results over decades which has created our planet's health condition as a whole now puts it in serious jeopardy. The once perfect planetary hygiene has been seriously compromised by those who have persuaded the Public that they know more than Nature does. That's why we have countless chemicals. That's why we have GMOs, because Nature evidently got it wrong and who would know better how to create and design better biological systems than a human scientist bought and paid for by the Industry in charge of change ? 

Image: Mycorrhizal Applications Inc.
Fortunately, not everybody believes in the industrial type of science. There are companies like "Mycorrhizal Applications Inc" who not only has developed microbial products for the garden and urban landscape use sector, but also is developing products to be used on large scale Agricultural situations which is an area in which the Industrial Chemical giants have traditionally avoided. As you can see in the above photo, such biomimicry of what nature actually does and making practical application of those components, also works on a large scale application with regards large scale Agriculture needs. Unfortunately, recent grant research funds have been awarded for to various groups in the research and development of genetically modifying mycorrhizae and bacteria for root colonization. This is not only is totally unnecessary, but also hints at more of the same product patenting business schemes which were the original driver behind most of the Bio-techs agendas today. Feeding the world was always nothing more than an advertising tool. It really never was about charity and caring for fellow man. It was always a business commodities trades decision for those that profit from  the massive monocropping on industrial levels. 

Photo: Chaparral Institute
Then there are also not-for-profit organizations like the California Chaparral Institute that are determined that people be educated about how nature actually works and correcting many of the ideologically driven misconceptions and traditional believes about Nature by individuals or corporations with a vested interest in development of wildland areas. There is also an ongoing educational program by the Institute's director, Richard Halsey and his staff in reaching out to younger generations and providing an accurate education and instilling a deeper appreciation for the chaparral ecosystem early on in life. Helping all types of people understand how these wild ecosystems really work and operate and how we can restore such damaged wildlife habitats by replication of what has been observed and learned in the field. This is actually a growing interest in a research called biomimicry or biomemetics. 

So where did this obsession with microbes as evil originate ? Mostly  from Louis Pasteur we got Germ Theory and all those microscopic organisms were all lumped together as evil pathogens that had to be eradicated. Much of Pasteur's life was dedicated to finding substances that would kill the infecting organisms. Not that a certain element of pasteurization has been beneficial, but things have gone fanatically way overboard. What an open door for abuse by industrial giants this has led to. Why, new business markets had now suddenly been discovered. The medical industry suddenly became obsessed with killing the infective organism rather than promoting defense against infection. Let's be honest here, it makes for better business sense by those with a vested interesting in keeping their livelihood intact. Servicing the symptoms as opposed to preventative medicine has always made better business sense. 

Louis Pasteur's nemesis, Claude Bernard had an entirely different take. He believed one's own internal terrain as he called it or the immune system was more important. So bizarre were some of his experiments that they created quite a controversy in the Germ Theory adherents. He and his research associates consumed cultures containing millions of cholera bacteria. Yet none of them developed cholera. The reason ? Their immune systems were not compromised. Still, while fascinating, I don't think I'd even go that far. But he made the point, building up the immune system is important and it starts early on in life. That's where the Hygiene Hypothesis kicks in. Allowing kids to be exposed early on to normal healthy outdoor activity is a good thing. Unfortunately in this day and age, forcing may be necessary as kids are addicted to their sterile life altering electronic gadgetry. You know how babies have that yucky habit of putting almost any thing in their mouths ? Maybe there's something natural to that in the immune system building game that continues on as they grow up. Hindering much of this outdoors exploration either intentionally or unintentionally may be the very thing that is compromising that immune system development in the youth. There was a great Canadian study a couple years ago on this very thing. It seems the well educated set have it worse than those from developing countries when it comes to allergies. I'll post it below, but in the mean time, I'd say leave most of those microbes alone and concentrate on spending more time outdoors with your family and/or friends. Once again, there is this incredible earth networking system that needs respecting. So what do you say ?
The downside of a good education: food allergies
Update April 15th 2014
 Exercising outdoors may help boost its positive health effects in children
 Coventry University: "Health benefits of 'green exercise' for kids shown in new study"

image: Coventry University
The research was conducted on a group of 9- to 10-year-olds who had to complete multiple 15-minute cycling sessions. During one session, the children were shown pictures of a forest path which was synced to their bike; in another session, they were given no visual enhancement at all. After the session in which they were given "green stimulus," the children experienced significantly lower blood pressure than when given no stimulus. The authors of the study noted that lower blood pressure can be attributed to a lower risk of healthy problems such as cardiovascular disease. The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Michael Duncan of Coventry University had this to say regarding the results: 
"Hypertension is a chronic health problem across the world, so given the results we've seen in our study it's crucial that we continue to try to understand the role physical activity and – in particular – green exercise plays in blood pressure."
"If there is indeed a correlation between viewing scenes of nature and a lower blood pressure post exercise, as indicated by our data, it could have very positive implications in encouraging public health practitioners to prescribe outdoor exercise to reduce health risk." 
image: Tech-Addiction
There has been so many scientific research findings are coming out lately which reveal the health benefit virtues of incorporating such  wholesome qualities which influence even the development of one's personality with such attributes as kindness which results in the right type of happiness which effects one's DNA. Human cells respond in healthy, unhealthy ways to different kinds of happiness Here are some great quotes from that article. Basically it's the Hedonistic type of happiness we get from pleasure of the senses, such as going on vacation, having a good meal, enjoying a hobby, sports, other types of personal indulgences or even the common modern day party animal pursuits on the weekends. Or the Eudaimonic type of happiness, which is a contented state of being happy that we get from a noble goal that brings us pleasure. This can be working to relieve the suffering of another living being, spiritual pursuits, or searching for and finding a greater purpose in our lives. But don't believe me, read from the link above what the Scientists are now saying.
"But if all happiness is created equal, and equally opposite to ill-being, then patterns of gene expression should be the same regardless of hedonic or eudaimonic well-being. Not so, found the researchers."
Or how about the recent virtue of showing "Gratitude" which goes and and hand with "Patience" and the health benefits received not only personally, but how it effects others within the community. In the past these types of subjects have been a turn off to the modern day intellectual crowd as something religious, and yet how does that modern day expression go ? "Follow the Science ?" 
"In a potentially landmark study, a team of researchers demonstrate that feelings of gratitude automatically reduce financial impatience. The human mind tends to devalue future rewards compared to immediate ones -- a phenomenon that often leads to favoring immediate gratification over long-term wellbeing. As a consequence, patience has long been recognized to be a virtue. And indeed, the inability to resist temptation underlies a host of problems ranging from credit card debt and inadequate savings to unhealthy eating and drug addiction."
Bottom line here is, if wholesome things in life are a matter of choice in which direction you choose can have a positive effect on one's genetic make up which can also be past on to future generations, then what do negative choices have in the form of entertainment have in the same long run and does this explain the increasing violent world born out to us through the News Media ? Hollywood is hardly an example of anything decent or virtuous as this video so beautifully illustrates, although a word of caution here: This video is of the Hollywood Celebs climbing the Gun Control bandwagon, which is fine, but they are the biggest hypocrites regarding this issue. 
Hollywood Hypocrites Demand Gun Control For Citizens As Their Movies Promote Gun Violence
Parent are directly responsible for what goes into their kids minds. You can allow Hollywood and the other entertainment Tech-Venues babysit and mold & shape your kids brains or you can get them outdoors and appreciate Nature which will have a longer lasting positive benefit on them later on in life. I know most won't agree or follow this, but again, if you don't like traditional values, then at least follow some of the interesting science which is backing up that there are benefits after all. Maybe all of us should stop and allow a hygienic over haul of who we are on the inside also.  
Further Related Reading:


  1. I've been saying for years that we're healthier if we grow up self-inoculating ourselves! there was an article in the Smithsonian Magazine last April, titled THE SECRET LIFE OF DIRT, that addresses this topic very well, and agrees with you completely. Kudos to you for bringing it up and letting people think about it!

    1. Thanks Suzy.I really miss the backcountry and my old work of being outdoors most of my life. I've had more sickness being over here cooped up indoors in Swedish lifestyle. Hopefully I'll come home again next year


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