This is something I heard my parents and grandparents say several times when I was a child. Working on some kind of vaguely-understood idea that antibodies were produced as a response to infection of the body, they decreed that paying too much attention to hygiene was not only pointless but counter-productive. As a result, if I as a child dropped my ice lolly (popsicle) on the ground, it would just be dusted off and shoved back into my mouth.

And you know what, it worked. As a kid I not only seemed to catch fewer diseases than most of the other children my age, but when I did go down with the obligatory dose of mumps or rubella it seemed to last for a shorter time than many others in my age group.

Now I know that this could be purely coincidence, as there have always been children who are "sickly" and those who seem to have a cast-iron constitution. One thing, however, is certain. Nearly all scientists who have investigated the anti-bacterial-resistant so-called "superbugs" such as MRSA say the reason that these microbes have become so widespread in recent years is down to overuse of anti-bacterial products. The modern western obsession with hygiene is slowly but surely killing us all by speeding up the natural selection process and creating organisms which we have no way of fighting.

Obviously the solution isn't to refuse to clean our houses or wash our bodies, but maybe people ought to bear in mind that soap or non-soap based washing products are perfectly adequate: there's no need to smother your skin in anti-bacterial products. Equally with food preparation: unless you're in a commercial environment making hundreds of meals a day, then ordinary cleanliness is sufficient to stop infections occurring. Double-washing every last utensil in bacteria-killing stuff not only smacks of the neurotic but is also helping those few bacteria with antibiotic-resistant genes to survive and multiply.

I used to get sick quite often. I would come down with a bad cold maybe 5 or 6 times a year. It's still not exactly clear to me why I got sick, but I do know when it stopped. A few years ago I started dumpster diving food quite regularly and in great quantities. I would give away and eventually toss out much more than I could possibly eat. For awhile it was my main food source. It became a challenge seeing how much I could get, eating leftovers from a few tables over at restaurants, peeking in my neighbors' garbage cans for food that had expired.

The most amazing thing about this is that I couldn't have gotten sick more than twice in the few years this was going on. I lived in a house with mice (I even named them) and insects, and often ate spoiled food and accidentally mold sometimes. I attribute my well being to this. I have absolutely no scientific knowledge to back this up, it just always seemed logical that that was the reason. I'm glad to see that others have had similar experiences.

I plan on returning to my previous habits in the very near future,

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