Before you scoff as to why sometimes germs are OK for your child’s body, please hear me out. Germs have been given a bad rep for decades, maybe even centuries! But the truth is, not all of them are harmful to our bodies.
Germ is a colloquial term for a microorganism that causes disease as defined in Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. Bacteria, virus, fungi, and protozoa are the major types of germs.
All of the alcohol, bacterial wipes, bactericidal and bacteriostatic agents, antiviral, and antifungal agents out there will not make us 100% germ-free. It’s always 99.9%. And that 0.1% of germs that cannot be killed will still be there, no matter what you do.
There are bacteria inside our bodies that do more good than harm. You have at least 3 million living happily inside your gut right now, and they keep your digestive system functioning properly. Some germs that newborns acquire are essential for them. And do you know where they get them from first? Us moms!
Germs are OK because…
They provide a good workout for our immune system.
Our bodies are a mean war machine when kept in proper order. We have natural soldiers (immune system) that kill invading simple germs. The immune system’s main purpose for existence is to fight, so sometimes, you have to allow it to do its thing. If we keep interrupting it, it will lose its ability to fight, and when that happens, we’ll be in big trouble.
Have you heard of the term Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)? It’s a big problem for public health around the world. Basically, the antimicrobial medicine that was effective for a patient becomes inefficient because the body has developed a strong resistance to it. Because of AMR, secondary infections can occur. So if your doctor tells you that your child doesn’t need the drug, do not insist!
It’s a case to case basis, of course. A simple cold (Rhinovirus) will not affect a healthy person all that much. It will go away on its own without much damage. But for immunocompromised people (AIDS patients or those going through chemotherapy whose immune system is jeopardized), this can be lethal. Your pediatrician will refuse to give a vaccine when your child is suffering from a cold because during this time, her/his immune system is vulnerable.
Some of you might think, “If that’s the case, maybe not having my kids vaccinated is a good thing. I mean, their bodies can naturally ward off the germs.” Oh, no. You don’t mess with those kinds of germs. They are potent. “But vaccines are germs that are injected to the body too, so it’s the same thing, right?” No. Vaccines contain a weakened or killed form of the microorganism. They are given in controlled doses to make the child’s body slowly adapt to it, so when the actual microorganism invades the body, it will recognize it and fight it.
Your next step is to ensure that your child has a strong immune system. Here are some good ways:
- Provide a bevy of food that are high in antioxidant and vitamin C. Mushrooms, strawberries, acai berries, blueberries, watermelon, mango, carrots, grapefruit, yogurt, and almonds are good immune-boosting nourishments.
- Make sure that your child has adequate hours of sleep and rest. If your child is sleep deprived, her/his T cells (white blood cells that protect the body from infection) will go down, making the child susceptible to certain afflictions.
- Do not expose him to cigarette smoke. It contains many chemicals that weaken the immune system.
- Allow them to be active. Encourage them to play outdoors instead of lounging inside their room, playing with their tablets or consoles.
- Stress is inevitable. There are a lot of factors that can trigger stress, and kids are not exempted from these. Teach your child to cope with it in the best way possible. We cannot shield them from all the stressors of life. As SmartMoms, one of the best things we could ever do is to prepare them.