Is Our Obsession With Cleanliness Making Us Sicker?

cleanliness is making us sicker
Debra Villar

Jul 02, 2018

Many of us believe that using disinfectants around the home will protect us from germs, however latest research has shown that this very habit may be affecting our health negatively.

Our fear of germs has led us to scrub, spray and wipe with different cleaning products that advertisers say will get rid of 99% of germs.

And while this may be true, the habit is totally unnecessary for the average household, only exposing the family to an overload of toxins.

A healthy immune system is able to fight common bacteria, viruses and fungi, this is why disinfectants should only be used in areas of high risk such as hospitals, nursing homes or any areas where patients may be immunocompromised.

As parents, we want our children to be healthy and may fall in the trap of believing that these products will protect us from getting sick. However, a study found that children with older siblings had less incidence of allergies and autoimmune diseases, which we can assume that this may be due to a higher exposure to germs in early life from the older siblings and in turn developing a stronger immune system.

Children should be allowed to explore their environment (and germs present in such), this aids in their development and maturity of the immune system.

Babies place everything in their mouth, this is exploring the environment; they pick up pathogens present and the gut builds immunity to them.

The gut governs immune function and it is often referred to as the ‘second brain’.  The gut is important because it acts as one of the defences from the external environment and our body. If you have ever touched something dirty and then accidentally put your fingers in your mouth, and you didn’t get sick, it’s because our gut is exposed to these same pathogens daily, but our gut flora (good bacteria) is able to fight it off.

A report published by the national environmental health group, Women’s Voices for the Earth, reported the negative health effects harsh chemicals are having on women and children.

The common health warnings that can be seen on the labels of such products can range from inhalation of the chemical to irritation that can occur to the skin and mucous membranes on exposure.

However, common household products have chemicals that have an adverse effect on hormones – either by mimicking their role or binding to receptors that interact with the hormones, causing changes to the ideal amount of hormone production. The latter are called endocrine disruptors.

Endocrine disruptors interfere with the body’s endocrine system. The endocrine system is made up of glands responsible for the release of growth and sex hormones, regulating mood, metabolism and more.

Estrogen and thyroid hormones are influenced by these disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are known to have a profound effect on humans during key times such as pregnancy, infancy and puberty and are therefore trans-generational – that is, passed from generation to generation.

So, we need to stop confusing the importance of a clean house to a disinfected one. A wipe down with plain soap and water, using borax, vinegar, bicarbonate soda, lemons and essential oils is sufficient, effective and good for your health.

  • Dr. Debra Villar is a wellness practitioner and a health speaker. She is the director of Complete City Health. For more information visit www.drdebravillar.com.


By Debra Villar

Dr Debra has over 17 years’ experience in the health and wellness industry. One of her passions is to ensure her clients obtain optimal health through her ‘Eat, Move, Think’ philosophy.


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