19 June 2012

Once again about dirt and allergies

What filth!
The panacea for allergies lies literally under our feet Anastasia Reznichenko, the magazine "Results" No. 25-2012

After the end of the season of rapid flowering of trees, the shelf of allergy sufferers has arrived. How to deal with this scourge? Western doctors claim that people who have grown up have the highest immunity... in unsanitary conditions. In a word, if today you forbid your child to dig in the dirt from morning to evening, then tomorrow you will have to take him to an allergist...

Immunity from plowThe Germans and Finns, as if by agreement, published studies confirming the hygiene hypothesis popular in scientific circles.

According to her, people are increasingly suffering from allergies because they seek to isolate themselves from nature in a sterile world. But our immune system needs training. When it is not there, there is an inadequate reaction to allergens and, as a result, asthma, pollinosis and other troubles. These problems are much less likely to bother those whose childhood was spent on farms or even just outside the city, who were constantly in contact with the soil and, without knowing it, got acquainted with a variety of bacteria living in it.

The staff of the metapopulation research group of the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Helsinki, headed by Professor Ilkka Hanski, devoted several years to their research. All this time, they closely monitored the health of 118 Finnish schoolchildren. "We started observing children when they were from 7 to 11 years old, and finished when they were already 14-18-year–olds," explains Professor Hanski. – By this age, the immune system has time to form, and the environment does not affect the immune system as much as in early childhood." Scientists tracked the environment in which the subjects grew up, and when they grew up, they began studying their immune system. First of all, they took a blood test for immunoglobulin E. A high level of these antibodies can be a guarantee that the immune system is hypersensitive to stimuli like pollen or animal hair and a person is at risk of an allergic group. Scientists have also studied the microbiological "zoo" that lives on the skin of teenagers. Naturally, those who spent their childhood in rural areas or grew up in close proximity to forests or farms had more diverse bacteria and microbes on their skin than their urban peers. But the blood test showed a high level of antibodies that inhibit allergic reactions. The children, already suffering from asthma at the age of 14-18, did not have a rich variety of microorganisms on their skin. "Bacteria are different, and not all of them are dangerous for us,– explains Professor Hanski. – There are not so many so-called pathogenic microorganisms that cause dangerous diseases in the soil. But there are plenty of others there. They may not even directly affect our health, but at the same time interact with "our" bacteria living in the intestines or on the skin." This constant interaction keeps the immune system in good shape. As a result, it clearly, without failures, distinguishes a real threat from allergen provocateurs. When from childhood there is contact only with a certain and limited set of bacteria, this skill does not "swing".

Perhaps the conclusions of experts from the University of Helsinki could be questioned. Finland has been actively promoting the rural lifestyle for several years, and this work fits into this concept. However, at the same time, a similar study was released by German immunologists from the Children's Clinic of the Ludwig–Maximilian University of Munich, led by Dr. Markus Ege. They went even further, having studied in detail not only the state of health of teenagers, but also the environment that surrounded them. For example, they paid attention to what types of bacteria and microbes inhabit children's rooms. The results were similar. Study participants who lived in rural areas were less likely to suffer from asthma and atopic dermatitis. The only difference was observed in the selection of suspected bacteria. Thus, Finnish experts drew attention to the fact that fewer types of so-called gamma-proteobacteria were observed on the skin of teenagers prone to allergies than in their healthy peers. This class of microorganisms includes those that are quite harmless, and those that excite dangerous infections. In particular, E. coli, which made a noise a year ago, is included in this group. The study of German specialists includes Listeria monocytogenes and Bacillus licheniformis, which belong to soil bacteria. Bacillus licheniformis, for example, is one of those that form humus from animal and plant remains. How exactly they can affect allergy protection, the researchers do not answer. "In fact, our research is just the beginning of the development of the problem," says Markus Ege, "and we do not know the answers to many questions ourselves."

So far, the conclusion from all these studies suggests one thing – to immediately send the children to their grandmother for the whole summer a hundred miles from the metropolis, so that the next flowering time in the future does not turn into torture for him. And he's fair. The main thing is to understand what dangers can await an unprepared little citizen in the ground.

Who doesn't take risksThe head of the EcoStandard group environmental Assessment Department, Katerina Veselova, lists the risks buried in the soil: "They can be divided into three groups.

Firstly, parasites. Secondly, bacteria. Thirdly, chemical compounds. So, helminth parasites, whose eggs enter the body with contaminated food products, give a wide range of symptoms, including intestinal ones, such as diarrhea or abdominal pain, as well as general malaise and weakness. Speaking of bacteria, a special place should be given to salmonella, which can survive in the soil for nine months. As for chemical contamination, the consequences do not manifest themselves as quickly as in the case of bacteriological contamination. For example, an increased content of lead in the soil after a single contact should not lead to tangible consequences for the health of the child. However, if the territory was treated with organic substances with volatile properties, then this will affect his general well-being."

All this gentleman's set is very likely to be found in the sandbox next to your house. According to EcoStandard group, the soil quality in Moscow does not meet the norm in more than 70 percent of samples – and this applies not only to chemical contamination, but also to excess in bacteriological indicators. Therefore, it is still necessary to temper immunity outside the city – and the further away from Moscow, the better. Otherwise, there is a risk, without being cured of allergies, to acquire a lot of other problems and only aggravate the situation. So, certain types of parasites infecting the soil contribute to the exacerbation of allergic reactions. Fortunately, the risk of infection can be reduced by observing basic hygiene rules. No one has canceled the law "washing your hands when coming from the street", and it is also better to refrain from eating vegetables and berries directly from the garden.

It is not necessary to dip the child in the mud in the hope of quickly strengthening his immunity –
an unprepared city dweller after meeting with a large number of bacteria can catch some kind of infection.
Photo: Andrey Zamakhin

It is more difficult to build relationships with bacteria that are so important for training our immunity than with parasites. "Of course, contact with various microorganisms increases our immune status," says Andrei Shestakov, a researcher at the Department of Microbiology of the Faculty of Biology of Lomonosov Moscow State University, "but if a person who was born and grew up in the city is taken to a farm, then he will most likely earn a lot of diseases right there. And the probability of this is higher if his parents grew up in an urban environment." According to the expert, our relations with microorganisms cannot be called friendly – it is rather a tough partnership. While everything is in order, harmony reigns in the body, but as soon as we give up, the bacteria begin to multiply actively and turn from a respectable roommate into an aggressor. That is why contact with them should be built gradually, and usually it happened. After all, a person received his first bacteria not by digging in the ground, but by consuming certain products - for example, fermented milk or pickled. "Previously, it was possible to preserve products only under the influence of microorganisms," explains Andrey Shestakov, "this is fermentation, if we are talking about kvass, beer or fermented milk products, or, for example, drying and cheese making, if we are talking about solid products. Now the situation has changed, as low-temperature storage methods and preservatives have appeared. Recently, probiotics have been introduced into the diet in order to establish habitual human contact with bacteria."

To educate the immune system so that in the future the child does not suffer from allergies, it is necessary in a good way when the child is in the womb. If she spends more time in nature, more often use "live" products – roughly speaking, lean on her grandmother's sauerkraut, then it will benefit the baby. Next, it is necessary to monitor the diet of the newborn. And if at first the choice is obvious – breastfeeding, then when switching to baby food, you should avoid chemical preservatives and give preference to natural ones like fermented milk bacteria. With this approach, meeting with neutral Bacillus licheniformis and even potentially dangerous E. coli will not be dangerous, but very useful. This is what Western scientists promise us.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru19.06.2012

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