Amish children have lowest rate of allergies



The Amish, in particular, Amish children, don’t get allergies — not like the rest of the general population, that is.

While many Americans are constantly searching for dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free alternatives, the Amish eat, well, pretty much anything they want to eat, according to the Canadian National Post.

The National Post cites a 2012 study showing that only 7% of Amish children in Indiana had some kind of allergy sensitization, compared to 36% of American children as a whole.

Food allergies are increasing. More than 50 million Americans experience some type of allergic reaction each year, and it’s the fifth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S., just ahead of allergies in general, in sixth place. Today, 1 in every 13 children has a food allergy and more and more people are diagnosed with new food allergies as adults.

The most common triggers for a life-threatening reaction, called anaphylaxis, are medications, food and insect stings. Allergic reactions send nearly 200,000 people to hospital emergency rooms every year — and that’s just for food allergies alone.

Diet and gut health are key in the rise of allergies and asthma. When your gut flora is abnormal, your gut lining is more prone to deterioration, allowing toxic substances to leak into your bloodstream, and causing significant increases in inflammation and allergies.

Some people are successful in controlling food and other allergies by the healing of their intestines. If you have severe food allergies, the GAPS Introduction Diet, which uses fermented foods and other natural strategies, like probiotics, to restore balance to your gut flora, may help heal your food allergy completely.

While it’s known that food allergies tend to run in families, which suggests a genetic component, another factor that is considered to be a contributor to the rise in allergies is the hygiene hypothesistheory — or the obsession with cleanliness. Many homes are filled with sanitizers, purifiers and filters and many children are discouraged from getting dirty.

A child who is raised in an environment devoid of dirt and germs, and who is given antibiotics that kill off all of the bacteria in their gut, is not able to build up natural resistance to disease and becomes vulnerable to allergies and illnesses later in life.

In contrast, Amish children often play in the dirt, grow up around animals and eat a variety of home-grown produce and foods from a very young age.

Low levels of vitamin D have also been associated with an increased risk of food allergies, while some theorize that food additives, genetic modification, hormones or herbicides added to foods may be triggering some cases.

When it comes to pet allergies, recent data show that infants who are exposed to pets early in life have a lower risk of allergies, wheezing and atopic dermatitis.

Additional countermeasures to allergies include using locally sourced honey and raw milk, optimizing your vitamin D levels, using herbs and supplements, eating high-fiber vegetables and avoiding sugar and processed foods. A junk food diet is known to increase kids’ risk of allergies.

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