Especially in the west, we are becoming increasingly allergic.
You sneeze and sneak out, but is it allergy or are you just jerking the cold? The symptoms are often quite similar.
– We are not sure why we are more allergic now than before, but there is little doubt that our environment and lifestyle contribute to the increase in allergic diseases, says Karin C. Lødrup Carlsen.
She is a professor and research director at the Women’s and Children’s Clinic at the Department of Clinical Medicine at the University of Oslo.
She tells us that some individuals have had these diseases as long as we have lived on Earth, but that is especially the increase that seems to be associated with the environment and lifestyle.
Clearly the last decades
– Some factors are well documented to contribute to the development of allergic diseases. It involves exposure to tobacco, air pollution and moisture damage inside. In addition, there is a correlation between allergy and exposure to certain environmental hazards such as plasticizers and triclosan, she says.
Carlsen says that development has become increasingly clear over the last 20-30 years, and applies to all allergies.
– However, there has been an increase in pollen allergy, allergy to some foods, such as nuts, as well as asthma that may also affect people who are not allergic.
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Good more pets
Another factor that affects the risk of becoming allergic is exposure to domestic animals, but in contrast to tobacco smoke and air pollution, the animals actually have a positive impact.
– In recent years, children who grow on farms, especially with domestic animals, as well as children in anthroposophical environments, have less often allergic diseases than others. This is probably due to the fact that when growing up with a large microbiological diversity, this can help develop normal tolerance to the environment you live in and the food you eat, she says.
Depending on bacteria
And this is probably one of the reasons why allergy is a major problem in the West.
– Removing from a natural environment makes it more difficult for the body to develop a normal tolerance to the environment we live in.. The body is completely dependent on a large variety of bacteria, and probably other microorganisms, to develop a normal immune system, she says..
As this diversity is limited, according to Carlsen, it appears that the immune system develops reactions in the direction of allergies.
Due to Western Lifestyle
Knut Øymar is a general practitioner and research director at the Children’s Clinic at Stavanger University Hospital and Professor at the University of Bergen and he confirms that there is a strong basis for saying that it is a relationship with our Western lifestyle that contributes to the great increase in allergy and allergic diseases in recent decades.
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There are many factors that can contribute a little to each and it makes it harder to find a strategy to prevent allergies. However, recent years’ research indicates that many of the causes are associated with reduced contact with biodiversity, he says.
The intestines play an important role here.
– We humans have a large number of nice bacteria in the intestine that we rely on. This is what we call the intestinal flora. It may look like our way of life, with reduced contact with nature around us, contributes to a poorer developed intestinal flora, says Øymar.
This is likely to be related to both the development of allergy and other chronic diseases, and that early life relationships are particularly important for this development.
Both birth to cesarean section, use of antibiotics and diet early in life appear to affect the development of the intestinal flora and through this development of allergy and allergic diseases. However, this mechanism still gives us hope that we can affect the incidence of allergic disease, he says.
Stump the smoke
Whether we reach a plateau for this development or if we still want to see an increase in the occurrence of allergic diseases in the years to come is uncertain.
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Therefore, it is important to try to reverse this trend, and the safest advice we have is not to use tobacco, repair moisture damage at home and reduce air pollution especially in relation to diesel particles, “Carlsen says..
Want to live healthy
Carlsen adds that there are some studies around the world that investigate primary prevention measures also at population level.
– But the results of these are not yet ready. Therefore, we should be wary of advising what the individual should or should not do to prevent allergic diseases before we have certain evidence that the measures help, “she says..
General health promotion measures such as healthy, varied and fiber rich foods, a lot of fruit and vegetables, and good physical activity, are probably also good measures in relation to allergic diseases.