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Health Impact News Editor
In an opinion column by Moises Velasquez-Manoff of the New York Times, the cure for modern day allergies is presented, from the farm!
The column title is A Cure for the Allergy Epidemic? and begins with the question: WILL the cure for allergies come from the cowshed?
The presumed answer is “yes.”
Moises recounts a visit to an Indiana Amish farm with an allergist from Indianapolis. They found that Amish people in northern Indiana are relatively free from allergies. In fact, he makes the rather astonishing comment that “the Indiana Amish (are) among the least allergic populations ever described in the developed world.”
They rule out genetics by noting that the Amish originally came over to the U.S. from the German speaking populations of Switzerland, but modern Swiss children, who would be genetically similar to the Amish, are just as allergy prone as U.S. children.
So what do they think is the “Amish secret” to avoiding allergies?
According to European scientists, they call it “the farm effect.” Here is how they summarized it:
The working hypothesis is that innocuous cowshed microbes, plant material and raw milk protect farming children by favorably stimulating their immune systems throughout life, particularly early on.
The column highlights the various aspects of farm life and exposure to various microbes that seem to prevent allergies from developing in farm children the way they do in urban children. Then, Moises makes a comment about raw milk:
In Europe, the consumption of unpasteurized milk has repeatedly correlated with protection against allergic disease. In America, 80 percent of the Amish studied by Dr. Holbreich consume raw milk. In a study published earlier this year, Dr. Schaub’s group showed that European children who consumed farm milk had more of those regulatory T-cells, irrespective of whether they lived on farms. The higher the quantity of those cells, the less likely these children were to be given diagnoses of asthma. Here, finally, is something concrete to take off the farm.
So the conclusion therefore should be that more people should drink raw milk to prevent allergies, right? Nope.
None of these scientists recommend that people consume raw milk; it can carry deadly pathogens. Rather, they hope to identify what’s protective in the milk and either extract it or preserve the ingredients during processing.
In other words, let’s certainly not advocate what we can see plainly works. That would upset our preconceived ideas of what is proper for people (and bring about a loss of profit for the makers and marketers of all those allergy medicines). Instead, wait for us to develop something that is not natural so we can patent it, and then we will approve it and sell it to you.
Read the full article in the N.Y. Times here.
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• Children who were breastfed for 6+ months are 51 percent less likely to be obese at age 9 than formula-fed kids.