TAMPA, Kan. — Since the pandemic began most of us have become "germaphobes."
We are cleaning our homes and everything we bring into them. Many of us limit how often we even leave our home, keeping a wide safety net.
But, are we being too cautious? Could limiting our exposure to the outside world have a whole new set of consequences?
Microbiologist Jessica Ter Haar breaks it down.
"So this is an entirely new reality for us and our bodies are also adapting to this because we're still exposing ourselves or we need to be exposing ourselves to microbes to stay healthy. But the ways that we would do it before was we'd be in crowds of people, shake our neighbor's hand, petting a new dog in the park or exploring a new store," Ter Haar said.
Ter Haar says the three most common types of microbes are bacteria, fungi and viruses. All three are all around us every day.
There are bad ones like COVID-19, but there are good ones too, that build up in our body and help us fight off illnesses.
"If we're reducing our exposure to those good ones, it's not reminded as quickly," Ter Haar said. "And more importantly, those good ones really help to tell our bodies what to do when the bad ones come along too."
So, taking things to an extreme with cleaning and staying inside can eventually cause issues for otherwise healthy people.
"What we face if we don't expose ourselves to good microbes are already far too high trends of negative things like allergies, eczema, obesity, metabolic syndrome, autoimmune diseases," Ter Haar said.
Ter Haar says we must still follow CDC guidelines to protect ourselves from Coronavirus, but she has a few suggestions to get the good microbe exposure you need.
- Open the windows and let in fresh air.
- Eat a variety of foods. There are microbes in, on and around foods.
- Take a probiotic everyday. Proven good microbes that can help build your immune system.
To be clear, she is not suggesting you let your guard down and stop protecting yourself. You should continue to follow CDC guidelines, wash your hands often, wear a mask and keep social distancing. But when this pandemic ends and the rules ease up a little, Ter Haar says it's possible we could see more people develop illnesses like allergies and asthma.
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