Dirt is mainly good for us. Here is a helpful post that explains this. First a Snip:
Bacteria has a bad reputation, as though any and all of it will hurt you. Parents keep immaculate houses in attempt to eliminate the “threat” of bacteria, removing shoes indoors, washing hands with anti-bacterial soap, moping with disinfectants, cleaning the counters with bleach. All of this is not only unnecessary for health but harmful to the immune system. It’s surprising just how many benefits there are to getting (and staying) dirty.
1. Mycobacterium vaccae improves mood
There are all sorts of beneficial bacteria living in the dirt but one that has been well researched is called Mycobacterium vaccae (M. vaccae). This bacteria has been shown toallay depression.
It is not entirely clear why but researchers have found that contact with the bacteria releases cytokines which activate the nerves in our bodies to relay signals to the brain and release serotonin into the prefontal cortex – the part of the brain involved in mood regulation (exercise has been shown to have similar effects).
2. Mycobacterium vaccae is linked to higher IQ
This same release of serotonin that occurs when playing in M. vaccae laced dirt, has also been shown to improve cognitive function. The serotonin that is released whilst playing in the dirt temporarily boosts the IQ so that learning is facilitated.
3. Staphylococci heals wounds
Staphylococci often gets a bad rap but it has it’s benefits as well. Staphylococci can prevent inflammation. After an injury if staphylococci is present on the skin, the redness and swelling which often accompanies cuts and scrapes can be prevented. Forget the ointment, just use a good smearing of dirt before you bandage up!
4. Soil microbes boost the immune system
Playing in the dirt introduces the immune system to bacteria which it can then store in memory. The memory of the immune system is profound and protects a growing body from getting sick later in life. A strong immune system also provides resistance to allergies.
5. Clay improves digestion
Dr. Weston A. Price noted in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (one of my favorite books on earth by the way) that clay was “the treatment used by several primitive races forpreventing and correcting serious disturbances in the digestive tract. This consisted in the use of clay or aluminum silicate which modern science has learned has the important quality of being able to adsorb and thus collect toxic substance and other products…” He also noted a common thread running through all of the primitive cultures he studied was that they carried clay in their backpacks.
Clay isn’t found in every dirt mound but it always seems that kids are magnets to it. It lays deeper in the soil and is fun to play with.