Jeanine and her son, Jesse, both say they suffer from high anxiety over germs – and worry about contracting a stomach virus. Jeanine says her fears have led her to develop several compulsive behaviors including constantly washing her hands, using hand sanitizer, and wiping down all surfaces with disinfecting wipes.

Jesse says like his mom, he also has anxiety and has acquired some of her behaviors, but doesn’t know whether that’s because he inherited them, or learned them through constant exposure.

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On Wednesday’s Dr. Phil, special guest Dr. Travis Stork, host of The Doctors and author of the bestselling book The Lose Your Belly Diet: Change Your Gut, Change Your Life, advises Jeanine and her son on the benefits of allowing “good bacteria” into your life in order to boost your immune system.

He says there’s a myth out there “that if we avoid all germs we’ll actually be healthier – but it’s the exact opposite.” Stork says that kids who play in the dirt end up with more robust immune systems, and are better able to fight off infections more easily, and are less likely to develop conditions like asthma, allergies, and auto immune illnesses.

Jesse insists he feels compelled to carry out the hand-washing and sanitizing behaviors he says he learned from his mom. “It’s a compulsion - you have to do it. And if you don’t do it – it’s miserable – you’re miserable afterward.”

“This isn’t pure behavioral or psychological,” says Dr. Phil, noting the “ritualistic nature” of the repetitive behaviors Jeanine and Jesse have described. “There are brain changes that happen and those have to be changed to get out of this.”

Is there help for this mother and son to overcome the fears and compulsive behaviors they say are negatively impacting their lives? Check here to find out where you can watch Wednesday's episode.

The Lose Your Belly Diet: Change Your Gut, Change Your Life book is a New York Times #1 Bestseller authored by Travis Stork, M.D., and published by Ghost Mountain Books. It’s available at The Book Nook, and wherever books are sold. Ghost Mountain Books is owned in part by Jay McGraw. The Book Nook is owned in part by Dr. Phil McGraw.

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