Apparently I came from the times when eating mud pies, eating the cookie that dropped on the floor and washing my hands only when they were dirty was the norm.
Studies from the Allergy Research Laboratory at the University of Montreal have found that excessive cleanliness is to blame for widespread allergies in developed countries. Dr Guy Delespesse, an immunologist and director of the Allergy Research Laboratory said that “hay fever, eczema, hives and asthma are all increasingly prevalent, due to excessive cleanliness, especially in children.”
The study shows that allergies, eczema and asthma have increased in prevalence by 300 percent in the past 20 years. Hand sanitizers are frequently used by our children, anti-bacterial wipes are used for counter tops and toys, and processed foods are to blame for the lack of important bacteria in our diet and households. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergic conditions and the numbers are increasing, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and being too clean may be the cause.
Historically, children grew up playing outside, pets and farm animals were more common, and homes were not hermetically sealed. We also ate a more natural, less processed diet. Doctors recommend putting away the hand sanitizers, and to eat more probiotic food, such as yogurts to reduce allergies, especially during pregnancy.
“Bacteria in our digestive system are essential to digestion and also serve to educate our immune system,” comments Dr. Brian Thornburg, a pediatrician in Naples, FL. “Since children have less exposure to these organisms these days, they miss out on the opportunity to have these bugs teach our immune system on how to react to strange substances which is key in the development of a child’s immune system.”
“The more sterile the environment a child lives in, the higher the risk he or she will develop allergies or an immune problem in their lifetime,” warns Dr. Guy Gelespesse, immunologist at the University of Montreal.
Some simple steps we can take to make sure we are not inviting our family to a lifetime of asthma and allergy suffering is to:
- Stop using hand sanitizers;
- Expose children to pets; and
- Eat more natural and probiotic foods such as yogurts.
In other words:
- Let kids be kids;
- Let kids be kids; and
- Kick the kids out of the house on a regular basis to go play.
So don’t feel guilty about leaving your baby in day-care, letting them get close to the family pet, or if your house isn’t spotlessly clean all the time. They may have a few more colds now than their peers, but they will be less likely to suffer chronic problems with asthma and allergies later.