Get Dirty

What does dirt have to do with compression…nothing specifically, but it turns out that like compression socks, it can be beneficial to everyone’s overall health.

I grew up in a small town, in central Wisconsin.  As soon as I got home from school, I changed into my play clothes and headed outside until dinner.  I’ve always been very fastidious about cleanliness, but that didn’t stop me from exploring the pond behind our house , the creek across the street, and all the dirt in between.  I played with frogs, bugs, and worms, ate vegetables right from the garden, and my dog loved to lick my face.  Now that I’m closing in on 60, I give a lot of credit for my good health to all of the germs I met as a kid.  Now science is confirming the importance of the microbes and bacteria we are exposed to at a very early age.

Dirt Is GoodIn their new book “Dirt is Good”, scientists Jack Gilbert, PHD and Rob Knight, PHD, along with Sandra Blakeslee explain the importance of germs in the development of our immune system at a very early age.  And, how growing up in an over sterilized environment can actually be detrimental to our health in the long term and cause a lot of the new allergies we’ve seen in the last few years. It’s not just playing in the mud, though. The authors encourage a lot of behaviors that might make parents squirm, like letting a dog lick their child’s face, or eating something that’s been on the floor.

So, if you’re lucky enough to live in a place where nature is easily accessible, don’t be afraid to let your kids go outside and get a little dirty.   It’s great fun for them in the moment, and offers the possibility of significant health benefits years later.  

And to those of a younger generation, when your parents or grandparents complain of aching legs, or you notice spider or varicose veins on their ankles, encourage them to try a pair of compression stockings.   A mild or moderate compression is typically all that’s needed to treat these symptoms.  Both are easy to put on, comfortable to wear, and like a little dirt, can provide health benefits that last into old age.