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Author Topic: How do you measure what germs will make your immune system stronger?  (Read 1380 times)

Offline ConfusedHermit

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I need to just have my title as my post instead of have a main question as my title and then ask something else.

How do you measure what germs will make your immune system stronger?

Is there a way to know that if I don't shower today, or if I eat some food I dropped, THOSE risks aren't going to kill me--but make me more resistant? I love the idea of not being so uptight about germs and overkill hygiene because the body needs practice! :{D~


 

Online evan_au

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There are lots of foodborne illnesses: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foodborne_illness

...but you can eliminate most of them by hygienic food preparation, and cooking at a sufficiently high temperature.

It is impossible to do a thorough biological safety analysis of the bacteria on a piece of food you dropped, but your digestive enzymes will take care of most of them. The ones that generate toxins (like botulism) won't have time to have a party and produce lots of toxins before you pop it in your mouth.

The odds are against there being cholera on the floor of your average Western house, so that is unlikely to cause problems for you.

The fact is that for every infection,
  • there is a small chance that your body will generate antibodies against some part of the pathogen (or the issue it has infected), which happens to match some protein in your particular body, triggering an auto-immune disease that may last a lifetime.
  • There is a chance that the infection will overcome your immune system and kill you...
  • but we try to prevent the more severe ones with vaccines, or cure them with antibiotics (or anti-viral or anti-fungal or anti-worm medications).
  • The "hygiene hypothesis" suggests that we have gone so far overboard with cleanliness that our immune system has nothing to do, and turns on itself - causing a variety of auto-immune diseases
...so maybe we should vaccinate kids against the known dangerous pathogens, which will give their immune system something to think about, cook our food properly, and be careful drinking the water in countries where cholera is common.

Some people who already have severe auto-immune diseases go to the extreme of infecting themselves with some of the more benign intestinal worms, and this relieves their symptoms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helminthic_therapy). But this works best in a country with excellent nutrition, regular supervision by a doctor, and a ready supply of de-worming tablets. Note that these people are not trying to make their immune systems stronger - they are trying to damp down an overactive (or misdirected) immune system.

As for bathing, some people go for months without it (much to the annoyance of everyone else...)
« Last Edit: 27/08/2012 16:52:27 by evan_au »
 

Online evan_au

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One of the first things to fail in malnutrition is the immune system. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is a good start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immune_system#Immunodeficiencies

Adequate vitamin D is important, especially as we age: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immune_system#Physiological_regulation

Note that eating too much is not good for you, either. You may avoid tuberculosis, but die from heart disease or diabetes...
 

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