“You should not only pick your nose, you should eat it”

Dr. Meg Lemon. NYT.  March 12th 2019.

That attention grabbing short quote is from an excerpt from a book that appeared in the NYT. The book’s author is a man named Matt Richtel and I am linking to the article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/12/health/immune-system-allergies.html  The title of the book is: An Elegant Defense; The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System”.

One take away from the article is that in order to develop a healthy immune system we need to play in the dirt especially during our childhood years and beyond by challenging our immune system. I am not suggesting any benefit for us SAGE folks to start rolling around in the dirt at our age though one of my acupuncturists for years did say it was important for me to bring balance to my pulses in part by getting my hands dirty through gardening especially in the spring time – something I do comply with.

The opening quote here is from a local Denver dermatologist who specializes in allergies and autoimmune disorders. Part of her training was at Denver Health and I at least peripherally had some contact with her in the AIDS clinic as I recall but there were so many doctors I at least brushed up against if only in passing that my contact with her is a bit foggy.  Quoting further from the article and Dr. Lemon’s comments:

“Get rid of the antibacterial soap. Immunize! If a new vaccine comes out, run and get it. I immunized the living hell out of my children. And it’s O.K. if they eat dirt.”

Dr. Lemon’s prescription for a better immune system doesn’t end there. “You should not only pick your nose, you should eat it,” she said. 

She’s referring, with a facetious touch, to the fact our immune system can become disrupted if it doesn’t have regular interactions with the natural world.

(And I would just insert here that dirt is part of the natural world)

“Our immune system needs a job,” Dr. Lemon said. “We evolved over millions of years to have our immune systems under constant assault. Now they don’t have anything to do.”

Another tidbit from this article I found fascinating was that a huge surge in the use of hand sanitizers and soaps with an antibacterial component really took off in the mid-1980’s and coincided with what was undue hysteria around the emerging AIDS epidemic. This is not meant to in any way discourage folks from washing their hands with good old soap just minus the antibacterial whatever’s that have been added.

I think the over use of antibacterial sprays and gels happens at most gyms these days including the one I go to. It would be much better for a good hand washing with non-antibacterial soap to proceed the work out and then refrain from rubbing your yes, sticking your fingers in your mouth and picking your nose until you have left the work out area and showered. Though it might be tempting to lick some sweat off a work out buddy perhaps refrain from this at least in a public place, remember we are encouraging interactions with the natural world.

I have often wondered what sort of antibiotic bugs are now lurking on the various work out machines at my gym. They are wiped down repeatedly with whatever the cleaning agent is that is copiously supplied.

Something not emphasized in this NYT piece in any great detail was the horrible over use of antibiotics and the resulting emergence of bacteria resistant to many of our best drugs. If you have ever been guilty of whining for an antibiotic to treat what is most likely a viral infection – stop it!

Let me close with one more bit of advice from Dr. Lemon: “If you drop food on the floor, pick it up and eat it.”