I heard on the radio this morning yet more claims that the rise in allergy cases, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and asthma, is down to the fact that we are too clean and no longer have sufficient exposure to dirt and germs. This theory has been circulating for some time and has become known as the ‘hygiene hypothesis’: supposedly, we no longer have the capacity to fight off certain illnesses and allergies as our bodies are unused to exposure. In short, we are too clean.
However, it would appear that it’s not quite as cut and dried as that. According to Medical News Today (MNT), humans in the western world are no longer exposed to ‘old infections’: non-pathogenic microbes from the environment or parasitic worms that reside in the gut. Such ‘old infections’ evolved to remain in the body for long periods of time and were important in helping humans to develop their immune systems; now that we are no longer exposed to them to such a great degree, we have lost that protection against inflammatory disorders such as IBS and asthma.
Far from suggesting that we are too clean, these researchers suggest we undertake increased hygiene regimes to prevent exposure to modern contagious, as well as recommending increased exposure to rural air.
It is true that children need to get dirty and that exposure to dirt increases their immune systems. I’m sure many of us remember the old ‘chicken pox parties’ when children were encouraged to mix with other children infected with the virus in order to ‘get it over and done with’ in childhood. For adults, however, such viruses carry a lot more risk and should be avoided.
It is for this reason that hygiene is important, at home and in the workplace. No one wants to accept a cup of tea from someone whose home is visibly dirty, and none of us wants to spend day after day working in a shabby environment. One of the quickest ways to become ill is through using a telephone covered in someone else’s germs, yet many offices don’t realise that this might be why they have a high sickness rate.
The trouble with cleaning, though, is that it takes a lot of time – and it’s never finished, is it?
That’s why having a professional cleaner is a good investment. When you add up all the hours – and arguments – that go into keeping your home clean, you might become depressed about what you could have been doing instead. When you’re running your own business, this is even more important as your time is money. Who wants to spend time washing dishes/ cleaning the loo/ ironing when they could be making money doing what they do best?
So, why not spend your time doing something you enjoy, and which you’re good at, whilst someone who’s good at cleaning (and yes – some of us do enjoy it!) does the stuff you hate?
Even if you break even financially, your improved quality of life means it’s definitely worth it. And who knows? You might actually be healthier too!