The increased prevalence of allergy and the hygiene hypothesis: missing immune deviation, reduced immune suppression, or both?


Summary

Allergic atopic disorders, such as rhinitis, asthma, and atopic dermatitis, are the result of a systemic inflammatory reaction triggered by type 2 T helper (Th2) cell-mediated immune responses against ‘innocuous’ antigens (allergens) of complex genetic and environmental origin. A number of epidemiological studies have suggested that the increase in the prevalence of allergic disorders that has occurred over the past few decades is attributable to a reduced microbial burden during childhood, as a consequence of Westernized lifestyle (the ‘hygiene hypothesis’). However, the mechanisms by which the reduced exposure of children to pathogenic and nonpathogenic microbes results in enhanced responses of Th2 cells are still controversial. The initial interpretation proposed a missing immune deviation of allergen-specific responses from a Th2 to a type 1 Th (Th1) profile, as a result of the reduced production of interleukin-12 and interferons by natural immunity cells which are stimulated by bacterial products via their Toll-like receptors. More recently, the role of reduced activity of T regulatory cells has been emphasized. The epidemiological findings and the experimental evidence available so far suggest that both mechanisms may be involved. A better understanding of this question is important not only from a theoretical point of view, but also because of its therapeutic implications.

Don’t Stifle That Sneeze! You Could Get Hurt .


The next time you get the urge to stifle a window-rattling sneeze, you might want to reconsider. It could be harmful to your health.

Clamping your nostrils and mouth shut might avoid disturbing others. But it could damage your eardrums or sinuses or cause an ear infection.

Sneezes are surprisingly forceful. The sudden, powerful expulsion of air can propel mucous droplets at rates of up to 100 miles per hour.

Some people are starting to sneeze because of the arrival of warm weather and allergies. A hallmark of allergy-related sneezes is sneezing two to three times in a row.

Allergist Rachel Szekely MD says to let those serial ah-choos roll.

“Occasionally, people will cause some damage to their eardrums or their sinuses if they stifle a very violent sneeze,” says Dr. Szekely, an immunologist in the Department of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at Cleveland Clinic.

Some people sneeze because of colds. Colds may produce a yellowish nasal discharge that signals an infection.

It’s best for that discharge to move out of the body. Stifling a sneeze only keeps it in the body — and could move it further inside.

“By stifling a sneeze, you could push infected mucus through the eustachian tube and back into the middle ear,” Dr. Szekely says. “You can get middle ear infections because of that.”

Sneezing is a protective reflex. It means an irritant has gotten into your nose that your body wants to keep from getting to your sinuses or lungs. When you sneeze, your body is trying to rid itself of the intruder.

Some myths have grown up around stifling a violent sneeze. It won’t cause a stroke or blow out a kidney.

All the same, Dr. Szekely says, let your body do its thing and sneeze. Just cover your mouth and nose.

10 reasons to take spirulina every day.


We talk a lot about “superfoods” here at NaturalNews because there are literally thousands of nutrient-dense superfood options from which to choose, all of which contain a unique array of disease-fighting vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other healing components. But the one superfood that stands out among the rest — and the one that you should be taking every single day for your health — is spirulina, a special type of blue-green algae that is loaded with chlorophyll and a host of other life-giving nutrients.\

spirulina

Spirulina is particularly rich in 1) infection-fighting proteins that have been scientifically shown to increase the production of disease-combating antibodies within the body. Since spirulina is composed of nearly 70 percent protein, the highest among all other foods, it is particularly effective at boosting the production of macrophages, a type of white blood cell that fights and prevents infection.

A 2005 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that spirulina helps 2) inhibit allergic reactions as well, particularly among those suffering from allergic rhinitis. It turns out that regularly taking high doses of spirulina can help allergy sufferers experience dramatic improvements in their allergy symptoms.
As far as blood health is concerned, spirulina has been shown to be an effective 3) treatment for anemia. In his book Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, author Paul Pitchford explains how spirulina and numerous other forms of micro-algae effectively boost production of red blood cells, particularly when taken in combination with vitamin B12.

Rich in both phycocyanin and chlorophyll, spirulina is also a powerful 4) blood purifier. Not only do these two important nutrients promote blood cell growth, but they also rejuvenate the existing blood supply. Chlorophyll in particular is nearly identical to hemoglobin, the molecule responsible for cleansing the blood and transporting oxygen to cells.

Because it contains all eight essential amino acids and 10 other non-essential amino acids, the antioxidants beta carotene and zeaxanthin, B complex vitamins; dozens of trace minerals, the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid, pathogen-targeting proteins, and beneficial probiotic bacteria, spirulina is also unmatched in its ability to 5) boost the immune system

These same nutrients also help to

 6) detoxify the cells and body of heavy metals and other toxins. A powerful chelating agent, spirulina tends to reach deep into bodily tissues and root out toxins like mercury, radiation, arsenic, cadmium, pesticides, synthetic food chemicals, and environmental carcinogens. Spirulina also assists in the transport of essential nutrients across the blood-brain barrier to replace the voids left by these toxins.)

A 1988 study out of Japan and several others have found that spirulina helps to 7) lower cholesterol levels and mitigate the underlying inflammation problems that cause cholesterol to accumulate in the bloodstream. Supplementing with spirulina daily effectively reduces blood serum levels of cholesterol, which means cholesterol is being deposited throughout the body where it needs to be rather than in arterial walls where it can cause cardiovascular problems.

Overweight or obese individuals trying to lose weight may also derive benefit from spirulina’s ability to 8) promote weight loss. Not only can supplementing with spirulina help you shed the extra pounds, but it may also assist in the growth and development of lean muscle mass, particularly because of its extremely high ratio of bioavailable protein.

Many people who supplement with spirulina tend to notice dramatic improvements in mental health and cognitive acuity. Because it contains exceptionally high levels of the L-tryptophan, an amino acid that produces the brain neurotransmitters melatonin and serotonin, spirulina is an unprecedented 9) brain chemistry balancer that can help improve mood, boost memory, and promote feelings of calm and happiness.)

Spirulina’s diverse array of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and cleansing nutrients also helps to 10) nurture healthy skin and hair. By targeting the detrimental factors that contribute to hair loss, saggy skin, and other side-effects of aging, spirulina can help rejuvenate your body’s largest organ from the inside out. Topical spirulina creams can also help tone and improve skin health.

To experience the maximum benefits of spirulina, it may be necessary for some people to consume as many as several grams or more per day of this nutrient-dense superfood. Just be sure to purchase only reputable brands of spirulina such as Cyanotech’s Nutrex-Hawaii Spirulina Pacifica, which is cultivated and harvested in such a way as to avoid contamination with toxic microcystins.

Cesarean Delivery: Lower Immunity Building in Infants?


  Cesarean delivery may result in lower bacterial diversity, lower abundance of the phylum Bacteroidetes, and lower circulating levels of Th1 chemokines in infants compared with vaginal delivery, according to a study published online August 7 in Gut. Lower diversity may lead to higher exposure to health risks such as allergies later in life.

Hedvig E. Jakobsson, MSc, from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues followed-up 24 infants born by healthy women, 15 by vaginal delivery and 9 by cesarean delivery, from birth through age 24 months. The women and children were part of a larger study on prevention of allergies by probiotics, and 20 (83%) of the babies were partly breast-fed up until 6 months of age.

The researchers analyzed stool samples collected from the mothers 1 week after delivery and from the infants at 1 week and 1, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months after delivery. They compared microbial gene sequences isolated from mother and infant stool samples. They also collected venous blood samples from the infants at 6, 12, and 24 months of age. None of the infants received antibiotics, and any mothers who received antibiotics did so only after birth.

Although microbiota developed in a similar fashion at the phylum level for infants in both delivery-method groups, the researchers found that vaginal delivery infants had significantly higher proportions of Bacteroidetes than cesarean delivery infants, particularly at 1 week, 3 months, and 12 months. They also found moderately lower levels of Th1-associated chemokines in blood samples from cesarean delivery infants, which could increase risk for immune-mediated diseases such as allergy, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease.

This study comes only a few months after another study found that cesarean delivery, combined with lack of breast feeding, may negatively influence gut bacteria development and lead to health risks later in life.

“[Cesarean delivery] was associated with a lower diversity of the Bacteroidetes phylum when considering all time points (p=0.002),” the authors of the current study write.

“Our study corroborates earlier studies reporting a delayed colonization of Bacteroides in babies delivered by [cesarean delivery].” In addition, they write, the new gene sequencing data indicate that “specific lineages of the intestinal microbiota, as defined by 16S rRNA gene sequences, are transmitted from mother to child during vaginal delivery.”

The researchers point out that more knowledge of how delivery mode affects microbiota composition and building of immunity may lead to improved allergy prevention strategies.

Source: Gut.

 

Cooking fuels and prevalence of asthma: a global analysis of phase three of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC).


Background

Indoor air pollution from a range of household cooking fuels has been implicated in the development and exacerbation of respiratory diseases. In both rich and poor countries, the effects of cooking fuels on asthma and allergies in childhood are unclear. We investigated the association between asthma and the use of a range of cooking fuels around the world.

Methods

For phase three of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC), written questionnaires were self-completed at school by secondary school students aged 13—14 years, 244 734 (78%) of whom were then shown a video questionnaire on wheezing symptoms. Parents of children aged 6—7 years completed the written questionnaire at home. We investigated the association between types of cooking fuels and symptoms of asthma using logistic regression. Adjustments were made for sex, region of the world, language, gross national income, maternal education, parental smoking, and six other subject-specific covariates. The ISAAC study is now closed, but researchers can continue to use the instruments for further research.

Findings

Data were collected between 1999 and 2004. 512 707 primary and secondary school children from 108 centres in 47 countries were included in the analysis. The use of an open fire for cooking was associated with an increased risk of symptoms of asthma and reported asthma in both children aged 6—7 years (odds ratio [OR] for wheeze in the past year, 1·78, 95% CI 1·51—2·10) and those aged 13—14 years (OR 1·20, 95% CI 1·06—1·37). In the final multivariate analyses, ORs for wheeze in the past year and the use of solely an open fire for cooking were 2·17 (95% CI 1·64—2·87) for children aged 6—7 years and 1·35 (1·11—1·64) for children aged 13—14 years. Odds ratios for wheeze in the past year and the use of open fire in combination with other fuels for cooking were 1·51 (1·25—1·81 for children aged 6—7 years and 1·35 (1·15—1·58) for those aged 13—14 years. In both age groups, we detected no evidence of an association between the use of gas as a cooking fuel and either asthma symptoms or asthma diagnosis.

Interpretation

The use of open fires for cooking is associated with an increased risk of symptoms of asthma and of asthma diagnosis in children. Because a large percentage of the world population uses open fires for cooking, this method of cooking might be an important modifiable risk factor if the association is proven to be causal.

Source: Lancet

Don’t Pick Your Nose: Never Mind, Boogers May Be Good for You.


nose-pick

if you catch your child with a finger up his nose, you probably discourage it. But could the “bad” childhood habit of picking your nose and eating it, actually be goodfor you?

A biochemist from the University of Saskatchewan has theorized that nasal mucus, or as it’s more commonly known, boogers, has a sugary taste that’s meant to entice you to want to eat it.

Doing this, he believes, may help introduce pathogens from your environment to your immune system, resulting in the building up of natural defenses.

Other experts believe this theory, which has yet to be tested, doesn’t necessarily hold water because you swallow nasal secretions every day, including while you sleep, even if you don’t eat your boogers.

Still, there’s a tendency in our modern culture to be obsessive about cleanliness, especially in children, and it could be that scolding kids for this “dirty” habit may actually be counterproductive.

Not All Germs are Bad Germs

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

This theory, known as the hygiene hypothesis, is likely one reason why many allergies and immune-system diseases have doubled, tripled or even quadrupled in the last few decades. Why does you immune system need “dirt” and germs to stay healthy?

Your immune system is composed of two main groups that work together to protect you. One part of your immune system deploys specialized white blood cells, called Th1 lymphocytes, that direct an assault on infected cells throughout your body.

The other major part of your immune system attacks intruders even earlier. It produces antibodies that try to block dangerous microbes from invading your body’s cells in the first place. This latter strategy uses a different variety of white blood cells, called Th2 lymphocytes. The Th2 system also happens to drive allergic responses to foreign organisms.

Dirt May Help Your Immune System Grow Stronger

At birth, an infant’s immune system appears to rely primarily on the Th2 system, while waiting for the Th1 system to grow stronger. But the hygiene hypothesis suggests that the Th1 system can grow stronger only if it gets “exercise,” either through fighting infections or through encounters with certain harmless microbes.

Without such stimulation, the Th2 system flourishes and the immune system tends to react with allergic responses more easily.

In other words, the hygiene hypothesis posits that children and adults not being exposed to viruses and other environmental factors like dirt, germs and parasites results in their not being able to build up resistance, which makes them more vulnerable to illnesses.

Allergies, Heart Disease and Even Depression Linked to Being ‘Too Clean’

If you’re healthy, exposure to bacteria and viruses may serve as “natural vaccines” that strengthen your immune system and provide long-lasting immunity against disease. If you don’t get this healthy exposure to germs in your environment, it may end up making you sick. Health problems already associated with the hygiene hypothesis include:

  • Allergies1
  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Heart disease, with one study finding that early exposure to viral infections during childhood could reduce the risk of heart disease later in life by up to 90 percent2

Even depression has been connected to early exposure to pathogens, via an inflammatory connection.3 Neuroscientist Charles Raison, MD, who led the study, said:4

“Since ancient times benign microorganisms, sometimes referred to as ‘old friends,’ have taught your immune system how to tolerate other harmless microorganisms, and in the process, reduce inflammatory responses that have been linked to the development of most modern illnesses, from cancer to depression.”

Your Immune System Dictates Whether or Not You Get Sick

If you’re looking for even further evidence that booger-eating may not be so bad after all, consider that it is the state of your immune system that determines whether or not you get sick when you’re exposed to a germ. In one study, when 17 people were infected with a flu virus, only half of them got sick.5

The researchers found changes in blood took place 36 hours before flu symptoms showed up, and everyone had an immune response, regardless of whether or not they felt sick. But the immune responses were quite different …

In symptomatic participants, the immune response included antiviral and inflammatory responses that may be related to virus-induced oxidative stress. But in the non-symptomatic participants, these responses were tightly regulated. The asymptomatic group also had elevated expression of genes that function in antioxidant responses and cell-mediated responses. Researchers noted:

“Exposure to influenza viruses is necessary, but not sufficient, for healthy human hosts to develop symptomatic illness. The host response [emphasis added] is an important determinant of disease progression.”

The bottom line? If exposure to the bacteria in your boogers can indeed help your immune system to grow stronger, then a case could be made for their consumption (or at least, for not scolding your little ones if you find them with a finger up their nose). Of course, you can get healthful germ exposures other ways, too …

How to Avoid Being Overly Hygienic

If the hygiene hypothesis is true, and there’s mounting research that it is, trying to keep your environment overly sterile could backfire big time and actually increase your risk of acute and chronic diseases. You can avoid being “too clean,” and in turn help bolster your body’s natural immune responses, by:

  • Letting your child get dirty. Allow your kids to play outside and get dirty (and realize that if your kid eats boogers, it isn’t the end of the world).
  • Not using antibacterial soaps and other antibacterial household products, which wipe out the microorganisms that your body needs to be exposed to for developing and maintaining proper immune function. Simple soap and water are all you need when washing your hands. The antibacterial chemicals (typically triclosan) are quite toxic and have even been found to promote the growth of resistant bacteria.
  • Avoiding unnecessary antibiotics. Remember that viral infections are impervious to antibiotics, as antibiotics only work on bacterial infections.
  • Serving locally grown or organic meats that do not contain antibiotics.
  • Educating yourself on the differences between natural and artificial immunity, and making informed decisions about the use of vaccinations.

Source: mercola.com

Does Acupuncture Improve Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis?.


Acupuncture is associated with some improvements for patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis, but these improvements are not clinically relevant, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Some 420 patients were randomized to 8 weeks of acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or no acupuncture. Actual acupuncture was associated with a statistically significant improvement in the primary outcome measure, mean change from baseline in the 6-point Rhinitis Quality of Life Questionnaire score. However, there were no clinically significant differences across the groups.

Source: Journal Watch General Medicine 

Children who eat junk food three times a week have more severe asthma and eczema.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2262174/Children-eat-junk-food-times-week-severe-asthma-eczema.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

Oral Immunotherapy Shows Promise for Children with Egg Allergy .


Oral immunotherapy with egg-white powder can lead to sustained unresponsiveness to the allergen in nearly a third of children with egg allergy, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study.

Researchers randomized 55 children (aged 5 to 11 years) with egg allergy to oral immunotherapy with egg-white powder or placebo. Immunotherapy lasted 22 months and involved dose-escalation on day one, a build-up phase, and a maintenance phase in which children consumed up to 2 g/day of egg-white powder (roughly equivalent to a third of an egg).

At 22 months, three quarters of immunotherapy recipients passed a 10-g egg-white powder challenge (no placebo recipient did). And 2 months after immunotherapy ended, 28% of treated children successfully ate a whole egg; these children were consuming eggs a year later.

In Journal Watch Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, David Amrol writes: “Although oral immunotherapy is our best chance for a food allergy cure, it is not ready for mainstream use until protocols are further refined. Patients who are not enrolled in clinical trials must continue to rely on allergen avoidance, patient education, and self-injectable epinephrine.”

Source: NEJM