Do you often compare your child to the neighborhood kid who never falls sick? Do you suspect his parents know something that you don’t? Probably not. In all likelihood, the fault lies in the fact that you fuss a lot over hygiene and cleanliness. Surprised? Well, don’t be.
Nutrition and fitness expert, Luke Coutinho who has authored the globally acclaimed book, ‘The Great Indian Diet’ with Shilpa Shetty, explains, “A lot of kids have allergies, skin problems like psoriasis, eczema, asthma, skin issues and wheezing problems. In fact, wheezing is growing as a common trend among kids and a lot of this relates back to the way we bring up our children. We are living in a world, which is very clean. We keep our homes so clean, keep our children clean, we keep washing our hands all the time with antimicrobial hand washes, bath soaps, and sanitizers.” In our attempt to be super clean, we compromise on microbes that are extremely important for our living.
Microbes are small organisms that are present everywhere- in air, clothes, on the skin, food and most prominently in the soil. We need them to maintain good gut health and boost immunity. The microbes in the gut feed your good bacteria. However, by constantly making your kid wash his hands with anti-microbial and anti-bacterial soaps, or sanitizers and preventing your kid from playing in the garden or soil, you are rapidly depleting the presence of these essential microbes.
To increase good bacteria in the gut, we feed our kids on probiotics present in certain foods (or by administering tablets) without realizing that they won’t last long in the body. What your body needs are constant exposure to microbes that lead to good bacteria in the gut. One way to enable this is by increasing their consumption of raw seeds and vegetables, which will then allow these microbes to enter their gut. Having a bath without soap also retains necessary microbes.
So how can you do it if you don’t have access to gardens or clean soil around you? We definitely don’t recommend you to let your kid play in the soil, which is contaminated with animal excreta or urine and works more like a dump yard for many. There is an alternative. Luke recommends making a microbe box. Buy organic soil and fill up the box with that soil. Also add some leaves or seeds once a week – not to grow but for it to generate and feed the microbes. The leaves decay and become natural compost.
Allow your child to run his hands on this soil. It is not only healthy for your gut but also therapeutic. Not only your kid, even you should do that 5-10 minutes every day. “Every time I play with the soil, it connects me with nature. It is better than any supplements and makes your child’s immunity lot better,” he concludes.