Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Amish farm kids don't have the allergy problems we do? Makes me go Hmmm.

I have often come across the supposition that farm kids don't have as many allergies, and that it's our modern pristine environment that is causing kids to have all of these allergy problems.  I haven't subscribed to that train of thought, though; having spent much of my childhood on a farm with plenty of dirt and animals, I still ended up with my allergy problems. I shudder to think of how they could be any worse than they got.

The thought that farm life leads to fewer allergies is based on an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002(citation at the bottom) about children growing up on farms in Switzerland. These kids had fewer allergies, thus leading to the conclusion that a less-than-sterile environment was conducive to a better, more appropriate, immune response.

More recently, there was a study comparing Amish farm kids in the Indianapolis area, farm kids in Switzerland, and non-farm kids in Switzerland. Results showed that the Amish kids had far fewer issues with allergies and asthma than did the Swiss farm kids, who in turn had fewer than the non-farm Swiss kids.

The article I read online on Yahoo News touched on many possible reasons for the health differences between the three groups of kids. Some reasons mentioned include: limited gene pool in the Amish community, positive effects of drinking raw cow's milk, and more time spent outside and in barns due to the low-tech ways.

I would like to add to their speculation that the Amish may not be exposed to Genetically Modified crops, since they grow their own food and use the lower-tech ways. I could be wrong, but I highly doubt the Amish buy into the government-subsidized crops.  They probably don't have Roundup to deal with, either, in their surrounding air, or in their food, and thus their bodies don't have to deal with the repercussions from being around it. 

I would like to see further scientific research as to what exactly each of these population groups eat on a regular basis, and whether that might have some bearing on the health of the populations' immune systems.  My guess would be that the non-farm Swiss families may get some GMO's in their foods(yes, there are GMO's in Europe, but not as prevalent as in the US), the Swiss farms might eat less if they grow much of their food, and the Amish would have very little to none, and that may explain the results of this recent study.

What are your thoughts?

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