Think beards are dirty? This new research proves you couldn’t be more wrong.
Babyfaces be warned: We are entering the long-overdue era of the beard — a Beardaissance, if you will.
Yes, that’s right: It would appear that beards are making a bit of a comeback. They’re on our televisions. They’re in our bedrooms. Heck, we’ve even devoted an entire month of the year to them! The fact that Grizzly Adams was able to witness the Rise of the Beard before passing is easily one of the greatest social justices ever to be carried out.
But did you know that, aside from protecting you from sunburn, keeping you warm in the winter, and saving a few remnants of that absolutely divine T-bone steak you had for dinner, a beard can actually improve your health?
Yes, it's true: Growing a beard can aid in fending off several varieties of diseases, according to a recent study published on BBC News.
Seeking to crush the age-old stereotype that beards are bug-infested bacteria gardens donned by only the most unhygienic among us were the folks at Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, Dr. Chris van Tulleken, Dr. Saleyha Ashan, and Dr. Michael Mosley.
First, their team revisited a study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection last year, which looked at whether bearded hospital workers were more likely to carry (and pass on) preventable and potentially fatal infections than their smooth-shaven counterparts.
The results of the study, surprisingly, found that bearded employees were three times less likely to be carrying MRSA, a common methicillin-resistant infection.
Why? That’s the part researchers aren't so sure about. The authors of the study guessed that the micro-abrasions and cuts caused by shaving often served as target sites for these infections to breed. Trust Me, I’m a Doctor had a different theory: Our beards actually fight infection.
So van Tulleken (of Trust me, I’m a Doctor) took over the case. He swabbed the beards of 20 random men, then shipped the samples off to be tested by Dr. Adam Roberts, a microbiologist based at University College London. From those 20 samples, Roberts was able to grow over 100 types of bacteria.
Beards actually are bacteria gardens, after all, but in a life-saving way!
“When you get a competitive environment like a beard where there are many different bacteria, they fight for food resources and space, so they produce things like antibiotics," Roberts said in an episode of Trust Me, I’m a Doctor.
Just as penicillin was created by fungus, it turns out that the bacteria in beards are actually the first line of defense against major diseases.
One of these badass beard bacteria "healers" goes by the name of Staphylococcus epidermidis.
Roberts found that it attacked and eradicated a form of drug-resistant E. coli during testing. With the rate of deaths due to antibiotic-resistant infections rising by the year, Roberts is hoping that this whiskery revelation will be a major breakthrough.
In fact, after Roberts’ research was published on BBC.com in January, the public began sending him their own samples of stubble for testing. And, believe it or not, his team was able to extract “anti-adhesion molecules” that, when added to toothpaste and mouthwash, could stop acid-producing bacteria from binding to our enamel.
You know what this means, don’t you? ZZ Top are going to live forever!