Can eating dirt make you healthier?

Several studies called the hygiene hypothesis show that when organisms from bacteria, viruses and worms enter the body from dirt, the immune system becomes stronger, The New York Times reported.

The ongoing studies imply ingesting worms redirects a skewed immune system, curing people with autoimmune disorders, allergies and asthma.

“What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment,” Mary Ruebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor, wrote in her new book, “Why Dirt Is Good” (Kaplan). “Not only does this allow for ‘practice’ of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored.”

Dr. Joel V. Weinstock, director of gastroenterology and hepatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and Dr. David Elliott, a gastroenterologist and immunologist at the University of Iowa,said children who grow up on farms and are exposed to worms and other organisms have been found less likely to develop allergies or autoimmune diseases.

“Children should be allowed to go barefoot in the dirt, play in the dirt and not have to wash their hands when they come in to eat,” Weinstock said.

Click here to read more on this story from The New York Times.