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Strengthening your immune system by exposing yourself?

jenandjeffjenandjeff Posts: 106Member
edited March 2012 in fitness & sports
to germs
So I am big germaphobe and my friends keep bugging me about how it weakens your immune system etc. My logic is that no matter how clean you are, you still expose yourself to germs no matter what just not as much as you would if you were careless; it is just better to be exposed to less than more. Doctors and medical professionals always encourage people to wash their hands and be clean. Does anyone have any medical facts/info about this argument?

Replies

  • TVBuddyTVBuddy Posts: 2,395Member

    IDOL

    depends, like don't go washing your hands with hand sanitizer every 5 seconds. BUT DO wash your hands if you touched the floor or pole on the train or when you're about to eat food. Your immunity is built by your white blood cells. Once they are exposed to germs they fight it as in an infection, if they're not exposed to anything, they just wont fight anything. I don't think being too clean will compromise your immune system. It's just if your body never seen a certain bacteria and virus, you'll probably get sick because it never fought it before. After your body fights a bacteria they will remember it and if it comes again the next time it will defeat it easily and faster. Either way you'd get sick first before you build immunity against a bacteria/virus. So yeah being too clean isn't a problem. IMO.
     I took a dump five minutes ago, my Richard Simmons is still not wiped yet, you're welcome to give it a smooch.
  • nobody knowsnobody knows what I think outof thisworldPosts: 13,094Member

    IDOL

    these aren't medical facts/info, but ..

    when I was little, I was the tomboy that'd roll around in the mud with my neighbours, pick at bugs, play outside, etc. etc.
    admittedly my awareness of hygiene wasn't very strong and I just wanted to play, not care about things I couldn't see

    I got sick a lot when I was little though hahahah
    maybe once or twice a month, it was always some type of ear infection or cold



    but I feel like because I got sick so often when I was little, I'm rarely ever sick at all now (knock on wood)
    and my brother who grew up sick-free and healthy gets colds and headaches pretty often now
  • monkeyinabarrelmonkeyinabarrel Posts: 1,371Member

    IDOL

    I'd say it would be better to have contact with some germs instead of blasting it with Lysol all the time. Your body is always invaded by germs and they always fight them which builds your immune system. Most of the time these attacks are in little tirades that we wouldn't notice/have symptoms. Someone who hasn't had tirades of these germs will get really sick compared to a normal person because their system is weak. Even worse is that they may have to take antibiotics to fight them off (btw anti biotics are not good for your immune system)

    :/ I'd say that person is screwed if they get infected with something like mrsa resilient staph infection
  • achuachu A. Posts: 733Member

    IDOL

    Consider this: You take a vaccine, which in essence, is a "germ". You are exposing yourself to the said germ, and thus if the vaccine if effective, your immune system is better prepared in the face of the "real germ". In this situation, you benefit from being exposed.

    Now consider this: You encounter a common cold strain, be infected, and become sick. You were sitting beside someone sick on the bus when you could have sat farther away. You recover but a few months later, in the exact same situation, you become sick again with the cold.
    So why is it that when you exposed yourself to the common cold earlier, that you still become sick upon a 2nd exposure? --> not all "germs" are made equal. in this case, common cold germs and flu germs rapidly mutate, rendering past immunity (both natural and induced/vaccine) useless in the face of new strains. In this case, you don't really benefit from being exposed.

    Also: being too clean may lead to allergies later on in life.

    Point is, there is no black and white answer. It depends on what you expose yourself to and how you expose yourself. Be sensible. On the spectrum, you want to be at a happy medium between immunodeficient and hypersensitive. There are bacteria on and inside of your body. Immune system is also partially predetermined by genetics.
    As for doctors, they must encourage people to wash their hands frequently, in their professional capacity

    The majority of "germs" that you encounter never enter your body; there are physical aspects of the immune system which shut them out, so you dont necessarily gain immunity just because you walked through someone's sneeze.
    If your immune system is naturally strong, you are less likely to attain further immunity because your body fights it things off so well, that the memory B cells don't ever get a chance to remember anything.

    My own hygiene: wash hands with water only after touching something with high likelihood of "germs", shower only once a day and not any more, i never use disinfectant/alcohol applications. i also never use hand soap.
    I get sick once every 1.5 years. I have allergies to a select few pollen ever since i was little.

    (Undergrad microbiologist / immunologist)
    ZoidbergMD
  • HERMITHERMIT Posts: 10,602Friend of Soompi

    EXALTED ONE

    I've found that exposing myself didn't necessarily introduce me to a better immune system.

    Truth be told, exposing myself instead introduced me to the penal system.  [img]http://i42.Richard Simmons/8x50mb.jpg[/img]

    mudkip
  • jenandjeffjenandjeff Posts: 106Member
    edited March 2012
    achu wrote on 13 March 2012 - 12:49 AM:


    The majority of "germs" that you encounter never enter your body; there are physical aspects of the immune system which shut them out, so you dont necessarily gain immunity just because you walked through someone's sneeze.
    If your immune system is naturally strong, you are less likely to attain further immunity because your body fights it things off so well, that the memory B cells don't ever get a chance to remember anything.

    My own hygiene: wash hands with water only after touching something with high likelihood of "germs", shower only once a day and not any more, i never use disinfectant/alcohol applications. i also never use hand soap.



    These two statements really caught my attention. Can you expand more on the physical aspects of the immune system to shut out common germs?

    Second, it is intriguing that you only wash your hands with water. I know soap does not kill germs but it does wash it off your hands down the drain, is water effective in washing germs off?

    A new thing I wanted to bring up. One big thing for me being in a university is that everyone keeps their backpacks on the floor and doesn't think twice about it. I mean there really is no where else to put it and most people do not over analyze like I do about things like that so its understandable. But I mean people walk into the restrooms before class and the restroom floors are usually damp from pee and all the nasty stuff, then they walk into class afterward. People put their backpacks on that same floor, touch their backpacks, and then I see them touching their face during class. Another thing I see is when people leave their gym towels on the floor and then go on to wipe their sweat off their face with the towel that was on the ground. These situations actually do not bug me, but I am just mentioning because that is how I look at things when it comes to germs. I always tend to trace back to what could have been there or who has been there etc lol.
  • AnthonyKkoKkoAnthonyKkoKko Ontario, CanadaPosts: 1,991Member

    IDOL

    achu wrote on 12 March 2012 - 06:49 PM:

    i also never use hand soap.


    OK I agree with everything you said, but this is a little intense, even for me.
    No hand soap? :o Doesn't soap lubricate your hands so that dirt/bacteria can wash off easier?
    With only water, you're basically just giving the critters on your hands a nice rinse.. their grip on your skin is much stronger, right? ><

    daebakthatsme wrote on 13 March 2012 - 04:57 AM:

    A new thing I wanted to bring up. One big thing for me being in a university is that everyone keeps their backpacks on the floor and doesn't think twice about it. I mean there really is no where else to put it and most people do not over analyze like I do about things like that so its understandable. But I mean people walk into the restrooms before class and the restroom floors are usually damp from pee and all the nasty stuff, then they walk into class afterward. People put their backpacks on that same floor, touch their backpacks, and then I see them touching their face during class.


    Hehe.. I'm in high school, but the same thing happens everywhere.. and... I'M ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE MUAHAHAHAHA....
    Because there just really isn't another place to put my bag o_o
    Please kindly read the signature rules.
  • hkukauditionhkukaudition Posts: 599Member

    IDOL

    daebakthatsme wrote on 13 March 2012 - 09:57 AM:

    These two statements really caught my attention. Can you expand more on the physical aspects of the immune system to shut out common germs?

    Second, it is intriguing that you only wash your hands with water. I know soap does not kill germs but it does wash it off your hands down the drain, is water effective in washing germs off?

    A new thing I wanted to bring up. One big thing for me being in a university is that everyone keeps their backpacks on the floor and doesn't think twice about it. I mean there really is no where else to put it and most people do not over analyze like I do about things like that so its understandable. But I mean people walk into the restrooms before class and the restroom floors are usually damp from pee and all the nasty stuff, then they walk into class afterward. People put their backpacks on that same floor, touch their backpacks, and then I see them touching their face during class. Another thing I see is when people leave their gym towels on the floor and then go on to wipe their sweat off their face with the towel that was on the ground. These situations actually do not bug me, but I am just mentioning because that is how I look at things when it comes to germs. I always tend to trace back to what could have been there or who has been there etc lol.


    When you get a cold or something.. or even a vaccine- your body will try to protect itself against the germs that will cause that cold again- however you will still get the cold, you will just be able to recover faster from it than you did the first time. However as with everything germs and illnesses can replicate nd mutate so one strand of a common cold virus could be different to another.

    I know what you mean about leaving stuff on the floor - i hate it too and i dont understand people who keep their clothes on the floor :/ However i think as long as you live wuite normally and aren't bubble wrapped then you don't need to worry about getting illnesses etc. You will get them eventually and at least if your body has already built up an immune system to some illnesses it might be able to recover better than if you had never had anything wrong with you in your life.

    You can never escape from germs no matter how hard you try so i think its probably not to think of the world in the way of 'germs' because if everyone did that, nobody would leave their home... tbh nobody would be able to live because there are germs even in your home.

    After going to loos etc i always give my hands a proper wash though, i know some people just kinda splash water for 1 sec whereas im there scrubbing under my nails etc and when i leave i try not to touch the handle of the door.. but thats mainly just because i dont want pee-pee hands...
  • achuachu A. Posts: 733Member

    IDOL

    daebakthatsme wrote on 13 March 2012 - 02:57 AM:

    These two statements really caught my attention. Can you expand more on the physical aspects of the immune system to shut out common germs?

    Second, it is intriguing that you only wash your hands with water. I know soap does not kill germs but it does wash it off your hands down the drain, is water effective in washing germs off?

    A new thing I wanted to bring up. One big thing for me being in a university is that everyone keeps their backpacks on the floor and doesn't think twice about it. I mean there really is no where else to put it and most people do not over analyze like I do about things like that so its understandable. But I mean people walk into the restrooms before class and the restroom floors are usually damp from pee and all the nasty stuff, then they walk into class afterward. People put their backpacks on that same floor, touch their backpacks, and then I see them touching their face during class. Another thing I see is when people leave their gym towels on the floor and then go on to wipe their sweat off their face with the towel that was on the ground. These situations actually do not bug me, but I am just mentioning because that is how I look at things when it comes to germs. I always tend to trace back to what could have been there or who has been there etc lol.


    1. Physical includes the integument (yes, skin), mucociliary, and epithelial cells (notably the GI tract and vagina). These cells (except mucociliary; obvious what they do) can a) form tight junctions which prevent anything unwanted from crossing their barrier, B) be not susceptible (can't enter) and/or not permissive (can't replicate) to infection, c) secrete antimicrobial/microcidal substances such as beta-defensins, d) provide attachment surface for normal flora which compete for resources and attachment against pathogens, and sometimes secrete antimicrobials of their own.

    Even if they are in your stomach, they are better considered as "outside" your body because they have not entered any tissue; they are still hanging around in the stomach acid - this is part of physical defense as well. The lumen (hollow area) of the GI tract should be considered outside, at least for our purpose, but the epithelium (lining of the GI tract) is tissue.

    2. I'm no soap expert, but soap is meant to degrease your hands (skin secretes oil, of course) and thus make it easier for dirt to wash off. Again with normal flora on your skin, washing them off with soap can be the disadvantage. I can't tell you that it is effective in washing germs off, but it seems to work for me (or maybe i'm just paranoid enough to avoid germs in the first place). For some pathogens, soap is all you need to kill them. I should have mentioned that I essentially use body soap on my hands when i'm showering once a day though, but not hand soap in particular. Also I am very very conscious as to where I am placing my hands.
    Umm, still if washing your hands with soap is a workplace policy, then adhere to it lol.

    3. Just avoidance and smart hygiene practice if possible, but no need to be paranoid over these things. If our immune system was that crappy at preventing disease then why are we still alive right lol

    AnthonyKkoKko wrote on 13 March 2012 - 06:35 AM:

    OK I agree with everything you said, but this is a little intense, even for me.
    No hand soap? :o Doesn't soap lubricate your hands so that dirt/bacteria can wash off easier?
    With only water, you're basically just giving the critters on your hands a nice rinse.. their grip on your skin is much stronger, right? ><



    I should have mentioned that I essentially use body soap on my hands when i'm showering once a day though, but not hand soap in particular.
    Really depends on what the critter you are talking. Some wash off because they are being outcompeted by normal flora for attachment surface, or some wash off because they just suck at attaching to skin. Others can infect through skin and so would be quite adapted to clinging onto skin.
    Because soap can effectively kill certain pathogens, it is recommended to wash your hands with soap; but I'm only offering a different viewpoint as to whether or not soap is absolutely necessary all the time.
  • xkatxrinaxxkatxrinax Posts: 136Member, New Member

    ROOKIE

    I think it's important to be exposed to some germs, obviously not be dirty or anything, but not to be over cautious. Look at what happens to remote tribes when we find them and visit them usually they end up dying from a simple cold purely because their body has not been exposed to it before. So I think if you prevent yourself from coming into contact with a lot of germs when you do get them you will get sick worse.
    SaseumiCharmingbestfriend96hkukaudition
  • Heaven11Heaven11 Posts: 78Member
    This article is very fascinating about bacteria and our body, even whether we are fat or lean (Quote from article "However, because our food today is largely uncontaminated and heavily processed, we risk having a more simplified microbiome. Eating too much food has the same effect. When we flood our guts with calories, as we often do in developed countries, some species of bacteria bloom at the expense of others. This is why obese people have a less diverse microbiome than lean people.")

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15356016
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