Browsers may block some cookies by default. Click accept to allow advertising partners to use cookies and serve more relevant ads. Visit our privacy policy page for more information.
Source: Trinity Kubassek/Pexels

Dirt Is Actually Great For Your Kids, According To Recent Research


Get green news right to your inbox!

As a parent, it's only natural to feel protective. Keeping kids clean and making sure that they use anti-bacterial soap and hand sanitizer might seem like the obvious way to go. But according to new research by Canadian microbiologists B. Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta, getting dirty is an important part of childhood--and not just because of the fun involved. Getting dirty actually helps keep kids healthy!  

Though it might run in opposition to parental instincts, letting kids play in the dirt can have a significant impact on boosting their immune systems, according to the scientists. To understand this phenomenon, we must first understand our own relationship with bacteria, the tiny living organisms that many associate with illness. While it's true that some bacteria can make us sick, it's worth noting that most bacteria does not. Our digestive systems, one of the largest parts of our immune system, is full of what scientists call gut flora, or "good bacteria." This bacteria helps us digest our food and even ward off other, more harmful bacteria. 

A portion of this gut flora is periodically replenished by the world around us. In other words, we ingest some of this "good bacteria" from time to time, just by interacting normally with our world. This is especially vital for growing kids, who are building up their immune systems for the first time. According to B. Brett Finlay:

"... they [kids] are going to put a lot of strange things in their mouth, and this is part of them experiencing the world, tasting the world we live in, as well as replenishing these microbes they need to develop.”