May The Bacteria Be With You!

It has become a common practice for everyone to keep a hand sanitizer wherever they go. It is hurled in between, before and after eating […]

It has become a common practice for everyone to keep a hand sanitizer wherever they go. It is hurled in between, before and after eating rituals; for the neat freaks, the tables are also victimized with these products. They pride in killing 99% of “germs” which, however, does not seem enough for an obsessively compulsive germ phobic who would take a shower in hand sanitizers if they were allowed to. Meanwhile I find myself eating food from the street made from “God knows where he touched” hands (pun not intended) and thankfully I hardly fall sick. I have friends who take all the necessary precautions that I ignore, but one bad meal and they go running to the doctor and a toilet seat before that. Don’t forget their sanitizer that they might just sprinkle on top of that seat. Wouldn’t want to fall sicker?

As a graduating microbiologist, the universe is urging me to pass this on to all the germ phobics out there. Why do you fall sick when you have masala puri from that dirty vendor while I take one step further and eat pani puri and remain fit as a fiddle? In fact, the day before I would have isolated several colonies of bacteria from that pani (water) to check for water potability. Let me start with blaming your parents. You might not remember the time when your mother directed your hands away from your mouth. Neither will you remember the time she stopped you from licking those walls. Bear in mind, I am not propagating such behavior but toddlers can be allowed to put their hands in their mouth from time to time as long as those hands have not been in some place extremely dirty. This is the time they should do it so that the good bacteria can colonize their gut. Anyone who has done elementary biology knows that we cannot produce vitamins in our body and we need to have them in our diet. The good bacteria in our gut makes these vitamins for us. They are our foot soldiers, and in greater numbers, they compete with foreign and dangerous disease causing pathogens to keep us healthy. Children born on the street do not suffer from constant cold. It is a different story that they usually have Tuberculosis due to congestion in public places, but otherwise, they have a stronger immunity because their good bacteria would have fought many dangerous battles, emerging stronger on every occasion. They would have probably spent their childhood playing with mud. A huge source of bacteria and the biggest source of antibiotics. We pay for these tablets when the street children got them for free! This does not mean you can let your child play in mud all day! The mission of any parent has to be to make sure their child starts developing a good and healthy immune system from the time of birth
It is why small Indian habits such as eating with bare hands is such a good practice. The inoculum you give yourself everyday by eating with your hands is enough to keep your healthy.   The bottom line is, let your child put its toes in its mouth on occasions as long as they haven’t tiptoed into garbage, which I am rest assured is the least a germ phobic parent could have possibly taken care of.

“Issued in public interest.”


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