'This book might change your perspective on real cleanliness . . . and along the way help you to raise healthier kids. ' Giulia Enders, author of Gut
'A must-read for parents ... Let Them Eat Dirt takes you inside the inside tract of a child's gut, and shows you how to give kids the best immune start early in life.' William Sears, MD, co-author of The Baby Book
We all want what is best for our kids, but for years we’ve believed that microbes cause infectious diseases and have battled to keep them under control. Our modern lifestyle, with its emphasis on hyper-cleanliness, is having a negative effect on our children’s lifelong health.
In Let Them Eat Dirt, microbiologists B. Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta explain how the trillions of microbes that live in and on our bodies influence childhood development and why an imbalance in those microbes can lead to obesity, diabetes and asthma, among other chronic conditions. With practical advice from conception through to pregnancy and beyond, this invaluable guide will help you to nurture stronger, more resilient and healthier children.
Microbiologists Finlay and Arrieta explain, in illuminating detail, the importance of the gut microbiome and, in particular, how supporting its diversity before birth and in the first months of life can benefit the immune system, allergy avoidance, and lifelong health. They urge reduction of the routine use of antibiotics and discourage use of antimicrobial soaps and sterilizers for baby bottles. They also affirm the value of bacteria-laden breast milk, supplementing formula with probiotics, being licked by puppies, and playing outside. Through these and other measures, they hope to restore the powerful benefits of microbe transfer from the environment to the young child, benefits lost as a side effect of efforts to reduce infectious disease risk and of cultural attitudes that conflate dirt with disease. Finlay and Arrieta's strong pro-vaccine stance and willingness to admit that some claims are not yet fully established place them firmly in the medical mainstream. The focus on practical choices before and during birth makes this book a good resource for expectant parents; the information here is actually most useful well before the dirt-eating toddler stage.