Dirt is Good: The Advantages of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System answers parent’s questions about the microbiome and their kid’s health. Parents, hold on to your diaper bags, Dirt is Good: The Advantages of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System seeks to answer microbiome-related parenting questions. Science writer Sandra Blakeslee teams up with microbiome scientists, Rob Knight, PhD and Jack Gilbert, PhD, to eloquently capture the answers to the hundreds of questions Rob and Jack have been asked by concerned parents. After a general introduction about the human microbiome, Dirt is Good starts with the interaction of the microbiome and human immune system in pregnancy. Continuing on through birth, first foods (both liquid and solid), the book touches on a range of topics organized loosely into chapters including the environment, conditions, depression, vaccines, and tests. There’s an amazing diversity of chapter topics. What Dirt is Good does well Talks candidly, clearly, and quickly about the current understanding of the microbiome and children’s health. Dirt is Good is clear about not overselling the microbiome and current probiotics. Throughout the book are stories of how their experience as parents and microbiome researchers change their ideas of cleanliness and health. What is
An open letter to Beyoncé wishing her and her family well as the twins meet their microbial partners for life. Dear Beyoncé, As you wait and prepare for the twins’ birth please don’t forget the invisible microbes that will protect, feed, and teach your babies for the rest of their lives. Yep, I’m talking about “germs” or more politically correctly – “microbes”. Babies are “microbe magnets”. Those first microbes that baby encounters become their microbes for life. They are stuck together – life partners in sickness and in health. What’s cool is that these microbes are security guards keeping away diseases, chefs chopping up food to feed baby, and soothing Jedi masters who teach baby’s immune system what to kill and what to ignore. In my grandmother’s day, people in developed countries died from communicable diseases – polio, mumps, measles, yellow fever. Diseases that are spread from person to person by sneezing, coughing, or spread by insects, like mosquitos. Today people die from non-communicable diseases – diabetes, allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and more. Our diseases today aren’t due to specific microbial pathogens. Vaccines, handwashing, clean water, sewers, and antibiotics keep these easy-to-spread microbial diseases at low numbers. Instead, today’s diseases
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned 19 antiseptic chemicals from over-the-counter soaps, hand and body washes. Citing concerns over long-term human safety and increased selection for antibiotic resistance, the FDA banned antiseptic chemicals on September 2, 2016. Antimicrobial washes also didn’t perform better than standard soap and water [1, 2]. Despite these findings and concerns, toothpaste, “First aid antiseptics”, antiseptic wipes, health care antiseptics, consumer antiseptic rubs, or antiseptics used by food industry CAN continue to use these 19 antiseptic chemicals [3-5]. Triclosan and triclocarban found in products including mouthwash, toothpaste, soaps, shoes, and toys, are two well-known antibiotics now banned from use in washes.
Friday the 13th, 2016 was a lucky day for the field of microbiome science, human and environmental health. The National Microbiome Initiative (NMI) launched with more than $121 million being invested from U.S. Federal agencies into microbiome research. We are realizing that microbial ecology really runs our world and lives. So the NMI seeks to understand how microorganisms interact with other species and the environment to protect and restore healthy microbiomes.
Get dirty, sleep, eat a diversity of real food, avoid antibiotics The beginning of a new year is always a time for reflection and resolutions for lifestyle changes and New Year’s resolutions! I’d suggest if you want to improve your life and health, start with the very numerous, yet invisible portion of yourself – your microbiome. The digestive system microbiome is best understood of all the human microbiomes. The importance of these invisible organisms for human health is increasingly apparent. However, scientists are still unraveling what makes up a “healthy” and “unhealthy” gut microbiome. It’s too early in the science to offer exact prescriptives, such as specific probiotics to take at certain doses or how many grams of fiber to incorporate in your diet. However, recent observational and even experimental research, points to general suggestions to improve gut microbiome health. Interestingly many of these suggestions often align with age-old healthy habits, but some may seem initially counterintuitive.