In a coarse way, dirty living is good for you and clean living is bad for. You are part bacteria, if you got rid of the life on your skin or in your gut, you would almost certainly die. But, what I had envisioned was an expansion of the slightly more complex idea called the hygiene hypothesis, whose argument goes something like this… Humans moved from rural lifestyles outdoors to hyper-clean lifestyles indoors in city apartments with central air, sealed windows and surfaces scrubbed clean, at every opportunity, with antimicrobial wipes. That transition led us to spend less time getting “dirty” outside. It also “cleaned up” many of the species we need around us indoors that would allow us to get dirty with life. This combination prevented many of our immune systems from developing normally2. As a consequence, our immune systems tend to get “messed up” when we live in cities. They revolt against us in the form of asthma, allergies, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease and, depending on who you ask, maybe even MS and autism.
In other words, clean living of one sort or another may be at the root of the majority of modern, chronic, diseases.
These days scientists have a much clearer picture of our inner ecosystem. We know now that there are a hundred trillion microbes in a human body.
You carry more microbes in you this moment than all the people who ever lived. Those microbes are growing all the time. So try to imagine for a moment producing an elephant’s worth of microbes. I know it’s difficult, but the fact is that actually in your lifetime you will produce five elephants of microbes.
You are basically a microbe factory.