Allergies plague many of us, and apparently they’re about to be a hindrance to even MORE people: nearly half of all kids are allergic to something. The prevailing theory posits that humans have more allergies because we’re more clean than we ever have been — we can’t train our bodies to fight stuff off if it’s not there in the first place.
Researchers have noticed that Amish children who live on farms in rural Indiana have significantly lower rates of allergies, and they think drinking raw milk and living in a dirtier environment might be the reason why:
Studies show children who live on farms have low rates of allergies. Dr. Mark Holbreich, an allergist in Indianapolis and a fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, calls it “the farm effect.”
Holbreich recently did a study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, which found very low rates of allergies among Amish children living on farms in Indiana. He says the reason may be because the children get exposed very early on to dirty environments, and to a variety of dust and germs. Even young kids are often in the barn, working with animals, and drinking raw milk.
“We think there’s something about milk,” Holbreich says. “That’s key, along with exposure to large animals, particularly cows.”
Scientists don’t know exactly what it is in raw milk, or in the barn, or on the cows, that helps boost the immune system. They’re researching that now. But Holbreich cautions against drinking raw milk or serving it to your child. It contains too many dangerous, disease-causing bacteria.
Want to know more? Head over to NPR to get the details.