Question: I’m always worried about the germs my daughter comes into contact with—especially as she starts school. Help!
Answer: Say it with me now: “Not all germs are evil!” While it does seem like kids get sick more often when they start school—which is likely because they come into more frequent contact with other kids who are sick—this isn’t necessarily “bad.” Huh? We live with billions of organisms, many of which play a crucial role in crafting a balanced immune system, so that our bodies know which microbes to fight and which to coexist with. For example, the “good” bacteria in our intestines—probiotics—have been linked to improved digestive and immune health. Getting typical childhood viral illnesses is a normal part of developing a healthy immune system. And when we pay attention to eating healthy foods and getting enough exercise and rest, our bodies usually do a good job of maintaining this careful balance. That’s a message you can teach your daughter, while also reminding her to wash her hands with soap and water, and to avoid chemical- and alcohol-containing hand sanitizers. If you want to make an easy DIY all-natural hand sanitizer spray for her to use at school (and at home), check out my homemade recipe at kiwimagonline.com/handsanitizer.
Lawrence D. Rosen, M.D., is the founder of the Whole Child Center in Oradell, New Jersey, one of the first green, integrative primary care practices in the U.S.
Have a question for Dr. Rosen? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.