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Can Your Immune System Weaken If You Are Too Clean?

hygiene and immunity in kathmandu

Due to the 2019 novel Coronavirus, we are much more concerned about our hygiene and cleanliness. Sanitizers, masks, and soaps have become our essential belongings in Nepal. But there has been some speculation on social media that all the preventive measures we are taking like washing hands and disinfecting places to prevent Coronavirus can actually weaken our immune system. 

Are there any downsides of being squeaky clean?

According to allergist and immunologist James Fernandez, MD, PhD there is no scientific evidence that suggests being too clean or starting to be concerned about cleanliness can weaken your immune systems.  

Hypothesis of hygiene 

Some of the beliefs like a lot of cleaning and hand-washing activity weaken your immune system probably emerged out from hygiene hypothesis. 

“This hypothesis derives from findings that certain developed countries where children might be exposed to more infections appear to have lower levels of such diseases such as allergies and asthma,” states Dr. Fernandez. 

But the debate is still going on around hypothesis and how much of a role personal hygiene plays. Dr. Fernandez “Theoretically it does make sense, but there is still not enough strong scientific evidence behind it.” 

There are a lot of other non-hygienic factors that can affect our immune system. Thus, there is no evidence that a short-term boost cleaning and washing your hands will reduce your body’s immune system.

The CDC recommends washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing in public places. In case there is no soap available, using a hand sanitizer will also help. The CDC also recommends cleaning the touched surfaces in your households such as doorknobs, light switches, countertops, and faucets.

How can we take good care of our immune system? 

Apart from sanitation, there are other aspects that contribute to how effective the immune system is prepared to combat infections. Any of those issues, like age and biology, are beyond your influence. But there are several things you can do to stay strong in your defenses including: 

  1. Manage Stress: Stress includes a hormone named cortisol to form the body. Over time, cortisol may cause inflammation and decrease the ability of your body to fight off infections.
  2. Healthy diet: A well-rounded diet that contains ample amounts of fiber and healthy fats helps to keep inflammation down.
  3. Exercise regularly: Doing regular exercise also helps your immune system to run smoothly. 
  4. Get enough sleep: The average sleeping time period for adults is about 7-9 hours. 
  5. Avoid Tobaccos: Avoid smoking cigarettes and drinking excessively. It can weaken your immune system. 
By Ronisha Shrestha
Clinic One

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