The hygiene hypothesis is a theory that living in excessively clean environments prevents your body from building up immunity and makes you more susceptible to allergies and other ailments. The evidence for hygiene hypothesis continues to grow, with most examples being associated with ailments and diseases under the autoimmune and immunological classification that have ballooned in tandem with our increasingly sterile habits here in the U.S.
One strong piece of evidence in favor of the hygiene hypothesis is the way that developed countries have seen a much larger increase in asthma and allergies than less-developed nations. It is a great irony that the use of antibiotics and hypoallergenic products designed to boost health could actually be contributing to some aspects of declining health.
On-going studies are beginning to show that people who are exposed early in their childhood to microbes in their surroundings have lowered instances of allergies and some immunological and autoimmune diseases. On the other hand, results have shown that when childhood exposure to microbes is absent, there is an increased possibility of developing these diseases. Compelling research has pointed specifically to families without dishwashers as well as families from more rural areas having lower rates of allergy.
More research should continue to show that our powerful detergents, germ-resistant medications, and hand sanitizers may have their downsides.