The subtitle further postulated the premise: “A Total Of 129 Students Were Taught to Collect Their Own Data by Swabbing Certain Moist And Oily Hotspots Behind the Ears, Between the Toes, and In the Navel.”
As reported Judy Siegel-Itzkovich on October 1, 2023…
Although you thought her demands were exaggerated, it turns out that your grandmother was correct. Scrubbing between the toes and behind the ears helps keep the skin in those regions healthy, according to a new study at George Washington University (GW) in Washington, DC.
The microbiome – the collection of microbes living in and on the human body, is known to play a role in human health – and the skin is no different. The new study published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology under the title “Spatial diversity of the skin bacteriome”, has shown that the composition of the skin microbiome varies across dry, moist and oily regions of the skin.
The skin is the largest organ in the human body with an average surface area in adults of 30 square meters. It has a protective role, acting both as a physical barrier against environmental factors and an immunological barrier, reducing the effects of injuries and infections. The skin also has a thermoregulatory function – preventing water loss, enabling temperature regulation, and supporting vitamin-D synthesis.
The researchers at the GW Computational Biology Institute headed by biostatistics and bioinformatics Prof. Marcos Pérez-Losada and his team were interested in testing what they called “the Grandmother Hypothesis.”
Prof. Keith Crandall, director of the Computational Biology Institute and professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics recalled that his grandmother always told the children in his family to “scrub behind the ears, between the toes and in the belly button.” Crandall posited that these hotspots are normally washed less often compared to the skin on the arms or legs and thus may harbor different types of bacteria.
But would the Grandmother Hypothesis hold up if put to the test? Pérez-Losada and Crandall designed an innovative genomics course and then unleashed a team of students to help them find out.
A total of 129 graduate and undergraduate students were taught to collect their own data–by swabbing certain moist and oily hotspots behind the ears, between the toes and in the navel. They also collected samples from control dry areas like the calves and forearms. The students then learned how to extract and sequence the DNA in the skin samples in order to compare the microbes living in the hotspots to those in the control regions.
The researchers found that forearms and calves that are often cleaned more thoroughly at bath time had a greater diversity and thus potentially a healthier collection of microbes compared to the samples taken in the hotspots. No significant differences, however, were observed across genders, ages, and ethnicities.
When certain trouble-making microbes take over the microbiome, they can shift the balance away from health, Crandall said. If the microbiome tips in favor of detrimental microbes, skin diseases like eczema or acne can be the result.
One thing I know for sure… Next time I take a shower, I will be scrubbing furiously behind my ears, between my toes, and inside my belly button! The mere thought of unhealthy microbes congregating and propagating in these places on my body is more than enough to assure that will be the case!
As I read this article, I was especially intrigued by the concluding paragraph:
The students proved the Grandmother Hypothesis, and their results suggested that cleaning habits can change the microbes living on your skin and consequently its health status, Crandall added.
Cleaning habits, especially those related to the smallest places, can have a great impact upon the status of one’s health! My own learned grandmother knew this; as, I am persuaded, did yours. What is more, we both know that they each preached their convictions!
And therein lays the great truth I wish to draw from this article. What is true on the physical realm is also true in the spiritual realm. Chances are that most of us had grandmothers who believed passionately in and preached physical cleanliness. Would that more of us would have listened to them!
Chances are, however, that most of us also had an aged pastor, minister, or mentor in our life who passionately believed in and preached spiritual cleanliness as well. Would to the Good Lord that more of us had listened to them as well!
Let’s be honest here... It’s often easy to focus on the “biggies” at the expense of the “little-es” when it comes to spiritual cleanliness. The article notes that bathers tend to focus on the more noticeable areas, such as forearms and calves, at the expense of the less prominent ones, such as ears and toes.
In like manner, when it comes to spiritual cleanliness, people often tend to focus on what are considered to be sins that are of great significance at the expense of those that are viewed as being of little importance.
And yet, Biblically, all sin is consequential! While some may choose to differentiate between so-called mortal and venial sins, Biblically, there are no big sins and little sins. All sins are equally detrimental. All sins are equally substantial. For at the end of the day, it does not matter if one sins a lot or a little, he or she is still a sinner.
After all, the New Testament Book of Romans tells us (in chapter 3, verse 23) that: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” The word here translated as “sinned” is the word “hamartano”, which means “to miss the mark”. It comes from the context of archery, in which one aims at a mark and falls short.
By implication, at the end of the day, if one misses the bullseye, one simply misses the mark. It matters not whether or not that miss is by an inch or a country mile, one still misses the mark!
Do not make the mistake, therefore, of assuming that tending to the “biggies” alone, i.e., the more visible sins, will somehow make you less culpable than if you tended to the “little-es” as well. Such distinctions are artificial at best, and disastrous at worst.
For in truth, a conglomeration of little sins, while they may seem inconsequential to us, are just as deadly, if not more-so, than one, two, or three big sins!
In light of this, make certain to include in your next conversation with the Lord an acknowledgment, not only of your larger shortcomings, but of all your shorter ones as well. In his first New Testament Letter, (chapter 1, verse 9), the Apostle John tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
All sins have consequences, even the little ones. Thank God, therefore, that all sins can be forgiven.
Knowing the consequences of sin when it is left to fester, why be partially clean when one can be fully clean?!