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

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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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More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 13, 2022

10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

1. Camping

A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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2. Staycation

You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

3. Island Getaway

People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

4. Fancy Resort

Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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5. Road Trip

The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

6. Charter a Boat

If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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8. Themed Retreats

There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

9. Working Honeymoon

Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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