The next time the kids drag their feet to do the dishes, you can remind them you are doing them a huge favor. Not only does this build character, teach life skills, and let the parents take a break, it may also keep the kids from going to the doctor. Now we’re not talking about putting dishes in the dishwasher, but a good old fashioned hand scrubbing.
While the state of your children’s room may contradict this finding, studies suggest that our environments are too clean. This doesn’t mean free from clutter or piles of dirty clothes, but instead of bacteria. This idea, called the “hygiene hypothesis”, speculates that allergies in children today are more commonplace than ever before due to the lack of germs or bacteria in their surroundings.
New mothers often keep their babies and young children away from others so as not to get them sick. Studies show, however, that young children who are exposed to bacteria and germs will help their immune system build up a tolerance and decrease the amount of allergies they could develop. A highly sanitized environment, while well-meaning, does the opposite. This is not to say that families shouldn’t sanitize areas of the house with harmful bacteria, such as bathrooms or cutting boards, but over doing it kills bacteria that could be helpful to the body.
A study was conducted in Sweden of 1029 children ages 7 or 8 years old. A questionnaire was given to the children regarding issues such as asthma (Ventolin inhaler), rhino conjunctivitis, and skin problems. The results of the questionnaire showed that those who engaged in hand dishwashing show a lesser degree of allergy issues than those that used a dishwasher. For those with eczema, only 23% of the children who hand-washed dishes had a history, unlike the 38% of children who used a dishwashing machine. The study also noted an even larger reduce of risk families who bought their food from farms rather than the market, and ate fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, and sauerkraut.
Over the years, research has indicated that different lifestyle factors have been known to reduce the risk of allergies. Families that own pets, or come in daily contact with animals developed a stronger immune system, as did families that consumed fish. Interestingly, it has also been found that children of families with low socioeconomic status, overcrowded living conditions, or immigrants had a history of fewer allergies. Since many people are touching the dishes, there are more germs, microbes, and bacteria that help build up the immune system of who hand wash the family’s dishes.
Other lifestyle factors can contribute to a lowered risk of allergy development. Families that engage in healthy eating and consume raw vegetables and fruits have been known to be healthier overall due to the good bacteria that is consumed. Children that are encouraged to play sports also have stronger immune systems and less allergies to the vast amount of bacteria encountered during games.
If you have questions about a healthy lifestyle contact our specialists at Orthopedic Surgery San Diego.