Let Them Eat Dirt

Let Them Eat Dirt

Saving your Child From An Oversanitized World

Book - 2016
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"A must-read . . . Takes you inside a child's gut and shows you how to give kids the best immune start early in life." --William Sears, MD, coauthor of The Baby Book

Like the culture-changing Last Child in the Woods , here is the first parenting book to apply the latest cutting-edge scientific research about the human microbiome to the way we raise our children.

In the two hundred years since we discovered that microbes cause infectious diseases, we've battled to keep them at bay. But a recent explosion of scientific knowledge has led to undeniable evidence that early exposure to these organisms is beneficial to a child's well-being. Our modern lifestyle, with its emphasis on hyper-cleanliness, is taking a toll on children's lifelong health.

In this engaging and important book, microbiologists Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta explain how the trillions of microbes that live in and on our bodies influence childhood development; why an imbalance of those microbes can lead to obesity, diabetes, and asthma, among other chronic conditions; and what parents can do--from conception on--to positively affect their own behaviors and those of their children. They describe how natural childbirth, breastfeeding, and solid foods influence children's microbiota. They also offer practical advice on matters such as whether to sterilize food implements for babies, the use of antibiotics, the safety of vaccines, and why having pets is a good idea.

Forward-thinking and revelatory, Let Them Eat Dirt is an essential book in helping us to nurture stronger, more resilient, happy, and healthy kids.
Publisher: Chapel Hill, North Carolina :, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill,, 2016.
ISBN: 9781616206499
Characteristics: xiii, 288 pages
Additional Contributors: Arrieta, Marie-Claire 1978-


From Library Staff

debwalker Jul 10, 2017

Healthier, happier, more resilient kids - when did we lose sight of how to do this?
And lose the hand sanitizers - completely unnecessary (outside of hospitals) and do more harm than good!

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debwalker Jul 10, 2017

Healthier, happier, more resilient kids - when did we lose sight of how to do this?
And lose the hand sanitizers - completely unnecessary (outside of hospitals) and do more harm than good!

Oct 29, 2016

This is a fascinating book about the exciting discovery of the microbiome and how important it is to our overall health.

If you know anyone who is pregnant, or who is planning to become pregnant, or who has young children, this book would be a great gift. The greatest impact on our microbiome is during pregnancy, at birth (vaginal births are much better for the microbiome than C-sections, but a vaginal swab can also transmit those important maternal microbes to the baby), and in the first months of life. (There are even suggestions of the best time to introduce certain solid foods into a baby's diet for maximum benefit to the baby's microbiota, as well as an excellent chapter on breast-feeding--breast milk has nutrients that are there solely for the baby's microbes!)

We are all covered by and filled with microbes, and they do all sorts of useful and wonderful things for us. Unfortunately, the good microbes can get totally screwed up by antibiotics (the authors call that "carpet bombing") and by living too "clean" a life. While many of us grew up playing outdoors in the dirt constantly, many children today live primarily indoors looking at screens, and using hand sanitizer all the time. This has many consequences, including negative impacts on our microbiota. Why does that matter? While we are still learning about the impacts/uses of our microbiota, there is already significant evidence that plenty of diverse microbiota can help prevent obesity, diabetes, intestinal disorders (such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease), asthma, eczema, and all sorts of allergies. Our microbiota can even have impacts on our brains, helping with moods, stress, depression, anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, and ADHD.

There has been a huge increase in auto-immune diseases and disorders in the past few decades. Part of what may be causing these problems is extreme cleanliness screwing up our microbiota. Get rid of hand sanitizer, and stop using anti-bacterial soap. Do not use antibiotics unless they are absolutely necessary. (We also need to get antibiotics out of the food supply.) Go play outdoors in the dirt, and go barefoot! Get dirty!

Interestingly, Americans with the healthiest and most diverse microbiota grew up on farms (especially Amish farms)! Obviously, most of us will not have that opportunity.

Pets contribute to healthy and diverse microbiota, reducing the risk of asthma and allergies. Dogs especially help with this, as they go outdoors and bring in dirt, and they cuddle with and lick their families. This is a good thing! Cats are great pets too, but contribute less to our microbiota.

This book also contains a chapter debunking the myth that vaccines are unsafe, and strongly encourages everyone to be vaccinated, for their own health and for the protection of those around them who may be too young or too sick to be vaccinated.

There is so much great information in this book that I can not possibly summarize it. It is very readable, with suggested Do's and Don't's at the end of each chapter. I give this book 5 stars, and I highly recommend it! And please help get this information to young parents and parents-to be!!

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