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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

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 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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