On health and hygiene…

Do you obsessively wash your childrens’ hands till the poor skin loses one-inch of epidermis? Are you absolutely convinced that the sole mission in a bacteria’s life, is to hunt and infect you and your family? Do cleaning and sanitation products take complete priority in your shopping list? Paranoid about dirt-attacks? Have to have those squeaky-clean floors? Ok, i’ll stop now because by now, we all know whoever you are. Here goes a new theory that i came across and thought i’ll share. Just for you.

Dr. Erika Von Mutius, a health researcher has come up with a new theory to explain why the number of asthma and allergies in children are increasing in the much cleaner West. She dubbed it as “The Hygiene Hypothesis,” which states that children who are around numerous other children or animals early in life are exposed to more microbes, and their immune systems develop more tolerance for the irritants that cause asthma. Also, the human immune system has evolved two types of biological defenses. When one defensive system lacks practice fighting bacteria and viruses, perhaps from an overly sanitary lifestyle, the other system becomes too powerful and overreacts as an allergic reaction to harmless substances like pollen. For more info, you can peek into – http://www.hygienehypothesis.com/

So, what we should we do? I can already hear kids woo-hoing out there, but meanwhile, should we parents let go a little? Not maybe mind the dust around? Allow microbes to co-exist in peace?


Generation G A P S….(part 2)

Next, bring on the trumpets and the marching bands, please. Gen X, the now mid 30 to 40’ers (it’s my era, so please don’t mind the extra fanfare) have come to town. Let’s start with childhood. Physical work has started diluting by this time paving way to more focus on education for both men and women. Quality of life was shades better because the culture of materialism had slowly creeped into the society. From transportation to household appliances, changes were happening for the better. As Gen X kids, we still drew water from wells, walked to do errands, biked to schools, did work in the house – without money, mind it (if i ask my kid to do this now, she’d protest it as child labor) and helped the grand parents who were at home.

Other biggie at that time, is that entertainment was all outdoors, because let’s face it. Indoors was too boring, crowded with people and also a danger zone for children who could get assigned random chores on sight. Imaginary play that doesn’t involve batteries or fancy buttons, mainly physical games, sports were common. And, we had to study but no pressure from school or parents, who were too busy anyway with their own grown-up issues.

Ok, fast forward to a Gen X adult. No more routine jobs for us, we were soaring our wings high. Studying, working abroad and if in India, we were busy breaking from the cookie-cutter government workforce moulds and venturing into private companies. Technology was slowly buzzing into our lives, though today’s kids would have a hearty laugh over the snail-paced PC’s, Internet which was just beginning to show up (we were ecstatic and thought it was so hip to send e-mails back then) and getting a good connection on a landline phone after a frustrating 2 hours of hand-dialing and liberal-swearing, would be enough to make us weep with uncontrollable tears of joy. Women started entering into workforce more partly because of the education levels going up and also because of a need to increase the income of the household.

And, last but not the least, the middle-aged Gen X. Sandwiched between supporting older parents on one hand and rearing adolescent or Gen Y children on the other, trying to find a balance between work and family especially the women, dealing with a uncertain workplace situation (heavy price tag for going private), having to cope up with newer technologies that keep mushrooming every second – they’re having to manage it all.

In a peanut shell – No fancy-shmancy gadgets or frills yet, simpler times with some physical labor leftovers from Gen W and mainly, having to balance on a seemingly permanent “see-saw” of life.