Farm Living Cuts Allergy Rate, New Study Finds

By Heather Legg

I just came across a study done in Sweden that shows an agricultural upbringing has anti allergy effects. Just a few years of farm living can have lifetime results in reducing allergy risks.

According to an article on reuters.com, Dr. Jonas Eriksson of the University of Gothenburg and colleagues found that people who spent the first five years of their lives on a farm were about 20 percent less likely to have itchy, runny eyes and noses due to allergies, from age 16 up through to age 75.

Later in the article, it is stated that only farms with livestock are the ones where the difference was seen. The exact cause for how contact with farm animals could reduce allergy risk is unclear, but Eriksson noted that drinking unpasteurized milk and exposure to certain types of bacteria are two mechanisms that have been proposed.

This goes hand in hand with the hygiene theory of allergies, meaning that parents today keep their children too clean, with constant hand washing, antibacterial wipes and not letting them just get dirty outside.

On the other side of the coin, it is not completely clear how urban living may be worse on allergies, but as Eriksson also noted, the high levels of diesel exhaust particles could have an effect. As any of us know who live in cities, pollution is horrible. The air is horrible. For those with asthma, it even means more. But when the news tells you to limit time outdoors and to not exercise outside because of poor air quality, you know it’s bad.

I wonder too, if farmers have more access to fresh fruits and vegetables and clean eating. Urban dwellers may eat more processed and fast food, and miss out on plenty of vitamins needed to stay healthy. These are  just my thoughts, I don’t know if any studies have been done on this, but I just have to wonder. I’ve always thought that the fresher the food one eats, the more chance of staying healthy, including allergies. I do know that things like vitamin c and antioxidants and quercetin help fight allergies. Farmers just have more access.

One thing I love about reading research is that not only do you learn about new discoveries, but it makes you wonder what else the findings will lead to and what will be the next discovery.

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