Our bodies are home to trillions of tiny organisms that actually offer benefits to the internal processes that effect our physical and mental health, our complexion, even our body odour—if we let them. That’s what Jason Tetro, the author of a new book on the subject of making peace with germs, The Germ Files, wants us all to know.
So if you’re drinking a detox elixir right now while an air purifier is running, you can stop what you’re doing.
So many of us have been obsessed with cleansing—detox diets, purifying our environments, over-washing/sanitizing our hands, fresh-starting in every area of our lives (or at least, believing it’s the right thing to do)—for so long, we can barely imagine the opposite is true. But the new book by the Toronto-based author presents research findings from the past decade that indicate it’s totally time to embrace microbes.
“Every external action we take in this world exposes us to them,” Tetro says. “On our insides, every biological function—metabolism, fat storage, cholesterol levels and even our psychological state—is affected by their presence. We are destined to live closer than any loved one or family member.”
Bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract = good for digestion. Bacterial growth on our skin = healthy glow. Bacteria in us and all around us = undeniable. If we avoid all bacteria like the plague, we’re apparently not doing our bodies any favours, and we could well drive ourselves mad in the process.
Tetro says that vast majority of bacteria is either benign or beneficial to our health and environment, and only about one per cent of the microbes that are out there have any risk to our health. Huh.
So, having said that, why is our culture so concerned with cleaning everything inside and outside our bodies?
Maybe we’re just freaked out by each other, or by our bodies. Maybe it’s about selling soap. Selling the idea of “perfect,” and smelling like vanilla and melon or anything but a body. Who knows. Either way, the germophobia that’s so often all around us is apparently pointless, and certainly can be a slippery slope for some.
Tetro forecasts that the germ-love movement he wants to see take shape will give rise to a new beauty trend: “Soon you’ll be seeing a variety of options on drug store shelves in which you are not removing bacteria, but instead spreading them on your face and gums.” So, keep your eyes peeled for that.
Would you check out germ-y skincare products if they promised to brighten your complexion? Or do you identify as a germophobe and cringe at the thought of deliberately putting them on yourself?