This has likely remained a health secret up until now. A farm seems a picturesque, relaxing and wholesome locale to lead life. Enter a piece of negative health news: living years on a farm directly affects how your body regulates its immune system. This story is about the potential consequences.
Immunological diseases include eczema, asthma. and rheumatoid arthritis. They are on the rise in Westernized society and represent a major public health challenge. For the first time, the new study has shown that growing up on a farm directly affects the regulation of the immune system and reduces the body’s immune responses to food proteins.
The research, out of the UK, suggests that youngsters who grow up in a farm environment have an increased number of regulatory T-lymphocytes, which are a subset of T-lymphocytes (T cells), a type of white blood cell. Regulatory T-lymphocytes are cells that suppress the immune system and reduce the power of your immune system to ward off threats.
Several large-scale population studies have hypothesized that farm living is linked to a reduced likelihood of developing allergic disease. But never until now have cause and effect been demonstrated. Does the farm environment actively protect against allergies, or are allergy-prone families unlikely to live on farms?
The study was done on piglets, which are valuable in studies because they share many aspects of physiology, metabolism, genetics and immunity with humans. The researchers showed that farm-reared piglets had lower overall numbers of T cells, which power the immune response.
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This shift in immune cells appeared to have functional effects since the farm-reared piglets also had decreased responses to food proteins once they started eating food.
Regulatory T-lymphocytes are the universal regulators of immune systems. Reduced numbers are often associated with the development of allergies, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. They aren’t yet sure why farm-reared piglets are at risk of this, but suggest that clarifying the mechanisms underlying these interactions could lead to ways to protect humans from immune diseases in later life.
This is very important, as immune problems severely impact health and quality of life and have no cure. All we can do is soften the symptoms as best we can. This study is odd, as we’ve typically heard of asthma and other immune issues arising in city life, with the pollution exposure that comes with it. But, though the study is done on pigs, it shows that farm life may also be an environment that affects our immune systems Click on the link in this story for natural ideas for boosting your immune system.