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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

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

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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