Let’s Get Dirty!!

Dirt

To give you a little insight about how I find all of my information, sometimes it happens by chance, just by coming across a blurb in something I read online.  From there I will do research on the subject in the hopes of finding what I feel are reliable sources.

I came across this page, by way of a post on Facebook that read “Top conservation issues to look out for in 2013” along with a picture of coconut water.  I drink coconut water from time to time, and I had read recently about conservation issues surrounding the manufacturing of coconut palm sugar and other products that I use.  So, I was curious.

One of the issues on the list was “A link between biodiversity, allergy and autoimmune disease.”  Right away that sparked my interest, so I decided to Google that, and I found a bunch of interesting information.

For the sake of simplicity, I will summarize what I took from my research, and I will include a few of the links at the bottom of this post if you would like to look at my sources, or to do your own reading.

What I came across points to the theory that allergies and other inflammatory diseases (autoimmune diseases) could be a result of less biodiversity and our exposure to less bacteria.  I apologize in advance to any germaphobes reading this, but we thrive on bacteria!  We need it in our intestines, on our teeth and tongue, on our skin, and just about everywhere else in and on our bodies.  The bacteria we need is known as beneficial bacteria.  It helps us digest food, fight off infections (of bad bacteria), and so many more things.  This kind of bacteria is not what makes us sick.

The problem that we seem to be facing today is that over the years, in an attempt to prevent exposure to the bad bacteria, there has been an increased use of antibacterial products and antibiotics.  Yes, sometimes there is a need for this stuff.  You want a surgeon to wash their hands with antibacterial soap before they operate on you or a loved one.  However, we do not need this stuff in our homes.  Almost every soap on the market now is antibacterial.  Toys, kitchenware, and even clothes are now treated with antibacterial chemicals.  Antibiotics are given so frequently, and without any testing for what might actually be causing the problem.  As a result, the good bacteria is being killed off, because the antibacterial chemicals and antibiotics do not discriminate against one or the other.

The theory is that this kill-off of bacteria has resulted in lower amounts of good bacteria in our systems, and a lower biodiversity, causing an imbalance.  This has culminated in a variety of new and increasingly severe allergies and autoimmune diseases.

As I have written about before, allergies are an autoimmune response, so essentially the same thing as an autoimmune disease.  The difference is that allergies tend to come and go, but an autoimmune disease is chronic.  The more I read, and the more I experience with my own disease, I am becoming increasingly obsessed with returning my body to it’s intended natural state of health.  Unfortunately, it took the diagnosis of a potentially deadly disease to even put this on my radar.  I truly believe that if I didn’t have Churg Strauss, that I probably would have continued on the same path.  Seeing the potential end of your life, way before you think it’s your time, can have a profound impact on how you view life itself, and how you rate your priorities.  I thought that the way I ate, and the doctors I saw to treat my various illnesses, was how things were supposed to be.  I have woken up and realized that I need to take control of what goes into and on my body.  I need to question EVERYTHING that goes into my body.  I need to question doctors.  I need to try unconventional things, and I need to stop treating the symptoms and start trying to heal my body.

Actually, that really sums it up the main focus and priority in my life right now…heal my body.

It is still a work in progress, but the first part of the healing was to change my diet.  I continue to work towards the paleo diet, and have removed grains and dairy from my diet.  On occasion I still have legumes and refined sugar, but not on a weekly basis.

The second step was to exercise.  My new found love of CrossFit has easily satisfied that.

Now I move on to this newly discovered (to me at least) theory about bacteria imbalance and how it is vital to almost every bodily function, even mental health.  What I am referencing here is not the only research I have done.  Over time I have come across many articles that discuss gut flora, leaky gut, gut imbalance, etc.  But the most recent readings have pointed to more than just that, it’s the entire system, even skin, that contributes to this balance. So, the next step for me is start taking probiotics to restore good bacteria.  From what I understand, this is a long process and is highly affected by diet as well, so I may also have to make additional dietary changes.  As a result, I plan to start the GAPS diet, and well as working with a doctor who supports these choices.

I have read many things about the GAPS diet and much of it revolves around the theory that gut bacteria (or lack there of) potentially contributes to autism, and other diseases, and can be a result of missing out on exposure to some beneficial bacteria right from the start of life.  As I look into the possibility of starting a family, this information highly interests me.  If I can help my children to avoid the health issues that I, and many others face, I will do everything in my power to do so.  One interesting piece of information that I came across when I started my research online about “A link between biodiversity, allergy and autoimmune disease”  was in this lengthy article with a lot of medical jargon.  It said, “Immediately after birth, the human gut is colonized with different strains of bacteria. This commensal microbiota is important in shaping the immune system, for other basic physiological functions as well as for the integrity of the intestinal barrier.” It also briefly mentions something about the difference between bacteria in children born by cesarean.  Interestingly I have read some information recently about that and how the increase of planned cesarean births could have contributed to this increase of allergies and autoimmune diseases, including autism.  When the baby passes through the birth canal, it is exposed to bacteria that will get on it’s skin and into it’s eyes, nose, mouth, etc.  Also, blood continues to flow to the baby through the umbilical cord even after birth, and will carry hormones and bacteria from the mother as an after effect of the birthing process.  Based on this, and if all goes well, my hope is to not have a cesarean, and not have the cord immediately cut.   I want my uncleaned and barely handled baby placed on my bare chest (so it can search for it’s food supply…which is a natural instinct and can result in better breast feeding habits) and to not let them put any antibacterial stuff on my baby for as long as possible.  Of course, if there are complications, I may not be able to have my way.

We tend to think of germs, bacteria, and dirt as the same thing and lump them all into the bad category, but we need to change our way of thinking because that is not the case.  Many factors have lead to thee decrease of good bacteria in many of us.  In addition to what I discussed about, we can also come in contact with good bacteria outside, in dirt, and from our foods.  So, get outside and dig in the dirt!  Let’s get dirty!!  But make sure that you don’t immediately go inside and wash it all away with antibacterial soap.

I don’t claim that anything I have written here is 100% accurate.  I do research by reading medical articles, blogs by other health advocates, and news articles.  I can not say 100% that the information I find is truthful and accurate, but I do my best.  You can form your own opinions and make your own decisions.  I will usually only base my opinions and decisions on my own experiences and information that appears to come from a credible source.  So, I have provided links to articles and information for your own benefit, please read and research as thoroughly as you can and make sure that you don’t just believe everything you read on the internet.  I feel comfortable trying different, “natural”, things that may help me, and when I do, I always pay close attention to how I feel.  If something negatively affects me, then I will stop doing it.  I will also research to see how other people are affected.  There is most likely not one answer that will work for everyone, but that also means that if it did not work for someone else, that it doesn’t mean it will not work for you.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841828/

http://www.conservationmagazine.org/2012/09/biodiversity-under-our-skin/

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/rent-a-moose/1518795740/”>rent-a-moose</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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