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Too much hand sanitiser?

It’s well established that disinfection agents alter intestinal microbiota (or gut flora), the microbial communities that play a vital role in regulating the human immune system and there’s been growing concern that the prevalence of antibacterial and antimicrobial products in our lives could be compromising our bodies’ immune response making us more vulnerable to disease, allergies and weight gain.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, disinfection regimes have been central in disease transmission prevention strategies. As a result we now spend our days scrupulously disinfecting and sanitising – in our homes, in shops, in playgrounds, schools and in the workplace. 

Excess of disinfection
The short term need for enhanced hygiene is abundantly clear. But the dramatic increase in the use of disinfection agents during the Covid pandemic, and concerns that this may become normalised by the crisis, is prompting some searching questions about the long-term cost of what is being called an “excess of disinfection”. 

The Spanish probiotics science specialist EMLIFE, has posted an article on its website intended to “start a discussion” on exactly this this subject. 

The article argues that Covid-19 has “forced us too reinvent ourselves…in order to slow down the rate of infection and avoid overwhelming health systems”. As part of this “reinvention”, we have become accustomed to “living with masks, using hydro-alcoholic gels, body disinfectants and surface disinfectants”. Concurrently, we have been instructed to isolate ourselves from other people and the environment. 

A double confinement
This, the article explains, has produced a form of double confinement. Not only are we isolated from one another, but our “microbiome is also confining”. Put another way, the article argues, “if we isolate ourselves, our microorganisms isolate themselves”. 

The article’s authors say, little is yet known about the way the new disaffection and confinement regimes will affect our microbiota. While many scientific papers have explored the relationship between microbiota and the SARS-COV2 virus, they are generally referring to how the microbiota influences the prevention and development of Covid-19 infection and disease. The EMLIFE article is clear that “in this new way of life…in terms of microorganisms and microbiota, everything has changed”.

Credit – Natural Products Global .com – Author Jim Manson