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People Grow Up On Farms Are Less Prone To Asthma And Allergies, Research Finds

People Grow Up On Farms Are Less Prone To Asthma And Allergies, Research Finds

Who would have thought that farm dust would actually protect you from asthma and various troublesome allergies? That is exactly what researchers at Ghent University and The Flanders Institute for Biotechnology in Belgium found when they tested over 2,000 children who had been reared on dairy farms. Most of them had no problems with allergies or asthma. This will lead to developing better medicines for allergies and a vaccine too for these conditions.

“At this point, we have revealed an actual link between farm dust and protection against asthma and allergies.” – Prof. Bart Lambrecht, pulmonary medicine expert, Ghent University.

The background to the research

The researchers first used mice to see what was going on. They exposed them to farm dust and found that they did not suffer from the most common house dust mite allergy that affects most people. What was protecting the mice? Was there a secret ingredient in the dust?

They found that there was a protein called A20 which kicked into action when the mice and humans were exposed to the dust. This is a vital component when allergies affect humans because it offers a sort of protection for the mucous membranes which overreact to allergens. When this A20 was in short supply or inactivated in the mice, they started to have allergic and asthmatic reactions.

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Why farm children are protected

Research is still ongoing but a few things are emerging which give us a clue as to what is going on. They are not sure which bacteria in the farm dust stimulates an immune system response in the farm kids. City kids are apparently not getting enough farm dust, just petrol fumes and other toxins. They also have a reduced amount of the A20 protein which would protect them. This is why their reaction to allergens and asthmatic triggers are so unstable.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in the USA, about 7 million kids suffer from asthma. Those suffering from allergic reactions to mold and pollen account for 17%. The majority of farm kids just do not figure in these statistics. Those that do suffer from allergies were found to have a mutation in their A20 gene which prevents them producing enough to prevent their allergies.

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Amish children

The University of Arizona has conducted similar research on Amish farm kids in Indiana who grow up exposed to farm dust from hay, silage and cattle. These kids never or rarely need inhalers. Researchers are curious to know why the Hutterite people in South Dakota who also grow up on farms have a higher rate of asthma. They use more modern farming technology than the Amish and this may be a factor.

The hygiene hypothesis

There have been suggestions that urban kids are growing up in an environment which is too clean. This hygiene hypothesis could be one explanation as to why these kids are often subject to allergies and asthma. As the child’s immune system matures, it needs to respond to threats. Otherwise, it will never be fully effective in recognizing what may or may not be harmful. T

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This may be one explanation as to why asthma is reaching epidemic proportions as mentioned by Dr. Fernando Martinez, Director of the Arizona Respiratory Center, University of Arizona who has remarked, “Asthma is reaching epidemic levels in children, and 1 in 10 now need treatment for this debilitating condition.”

What is the way forward?

What is that active substance in the farm dust which kicks the A20 protein into action and gives kids protection? The answer could be in the dried-up cow manure lying round the farm. The bacteria may be found here which will open up new possibilities

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This is the question that researchers are determined to find the answer to. It will, eventually, lead to more effective medication for asthma and also pave the way for a vaccine. Allergy medications are likely to improve and be much more effective, but all this will take time.

Featured photo credit: Pudge got his first asthma inhaler today/Thomas Widmann via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Freelance writer

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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