Study Says Kids Eating More Dirt Could Avoid Diabetes

kids with diabetesWhen it comes to Type one diabetes, in spite of the vigorous research being conducted all over the world, there are still a great many mysteries surrounding why the disease ultimately occurs. While it is generally understood that the body begins to attack its own pancreas, destroying vital beta cells that allow for the regulation and dispersal of insulin, doctors and researchers are not entirely sure what triggers that mechanism in the first place. There are a number of theories floating around, at least as many theories as there are diabetic accessories on the market; one of the more interesting ones to come up in recent years was developed by Anastasia Albanese-O’Neill, consultant at the University of Florida Diabetes Center. She stated that it is entirely possible that part of the issue leading to so many cases of type one diabetes is that parents make their children’s environs too clean. Type one diabetes patients go on to live a life filled with maintaining a syringe supply, or purchasing insulin pen needles or pump supplies to get the insulin they need.


It used to be that type one diabetes was referred to as “Juvenile Diabetes,” because it generally manifested in childhood; however, more and more individuals are being diagnosed with the disease in adulthood, leading to a change in the designation. However, among those children who do develop the chronic illness while young, one of the theories put forth my Albanese-O’Neill is that “There is an environmental component we do not understand. Something triggers the body to destroy the pancreas. Something in the environment flips the switch.” Since Type one diabetes is developed as an auto-immune disease, there is a great deal of research to discover what causes the body to react in such a way. While a virus has been pointed to as the initial spur to the immune system that leads to the response of the body to attack its own organs, doctors are perplexed as to why this happens. Type one diabetes patients rely on daily injections of insulin through the use of insulin syringes or other devices—requiring the purchase of a syringe supply, or of insulin pen needles or pump supplies.


Albanese-O’Neill suggested in her talk to the Rotary Club of Jacksonville that the triggering component could very well be that children are “too clean,” adding that “Kids are supposed to eat dirt. It’s what trains their immune system.” There is also a suggestion that a lack of exposure to environmental material and an overuse of antibiotics to treat childhood illnesses could be contributing to the increase. Auto-immune responses have been likened in some respects to allergic reactions; the body is attacking something that is not actually harmful, in this case its own cells. By not exposing children to environmental material—complete with germs, viruses, and dirt—parents may be leading to immune imbalances and malfunctions years down the line. While there’s no specific study citing this connection, there is certainly a lot to be gained about not keeping your children’s habits overly clean. If it can help to avoid a lifetime of blood-glucose monitoring and insulin treatments using insulin pump supplies, insulin pen needles, or a syringe supply, then it may be worthwhile to let your child play in the dirt now and then.

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