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good germs

Book Review by Liz Conroy

The Dirt On

DIRT

“Nobody else but the rosebush knows How nice mud feels Between the toes.”

I

n “Mud,” Polly Chase Boyden captures the joy a child feels when exploring the outdoors and getting dirty. My husband and I grew up attracted to mud and puddles. When his parents warned him not to step in puddles while wearing new shoes, Mike removed his shoes and floated them in the first puddle he found. He obeyed the rule, yet still had fun. I recall patting mud into cakes for my dolls. Mud was merry; dirt was delightful. Our two daughters enjoyed playing in mud, dirt and sand whenever possible.We had rules about not wearing good clothes in mud. But we also had play clothes for wading in the creek and sand box activities. When my younger daughter, Laura, was a toddler and sick with chicken pox, she begged to go to the “san bok” late at night. After all, that’s where she felt happy.Today, researchers encourage parents to let their children go outside and get dirty. Playing in dirt, mud, and sand makes many kids happier as well as healthier than staying clean indoors. 20

Athens-Oconee Parent

LEFT TO

A recently published book, Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World, includes reasons why parents need to relax about keeping kids constantly clean. Contact with dirt is necessary for good health, according to authors B. Brett Finlay, Ph.D. and Marie-Claire Arrieta, Ph.D. (All following quotes are from Let Them Eat Dirt.) How can this be? Aren’t germs bad for us? That’s what most of us learned in the past. The two authors – both distin-

RIGHT: Claire, 8, Lisa

(mom), and Lauren, 10

guished researchers – alert us to the world of microbes and their importance to our health. Finlay is a father and a professor at the University of British Columbia and studied microbes for more than three decades. Arrieta is a mother and assistant professor at the University of Calgary. Her recent study connected asthma in young babies to their lack of key intestinal bacterial species. Finlay and Arrieta explain that the human microbiota consists of tiny forms of life such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa.These organisms inhabit our skin, mouth, nasal cavities, lungs, urinary tract, and gastrointestinal tract.The intestinal tract is a great place for

Athens oconee parent july august 17  
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