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Too Clean for Your Health?

Reconsider that anti-bacterial gel you keep in your purse – a few germs may actually be good for you.

Swedish researchers found that children raised in homes where dishes are washed by hand had fewer allergies and fewer skin rashes than children growing up in homes with a dishwasher. Scientists suggest that the bacteria remaining on hand-washed dishes can teach the body to tolerate its environment.

For example, just 23 percent of children who lived without dishwashers had eczema (a skin inflammation brought on by allergies) while 38 percent of those with the machine did. And children eating off dishwasher-cleaned dishes had triple the incidence of asthma (7 percent) compared to those who ate off hand-washed dishes (2 percent.)

Even after factoring in other influences on childhood allergies, the researchers found that children who lived in homes without dishwashers were 43 percent less likely to have allergies.

The study followed 1,029 Swedish children aged seven and eight years old. It also noted that eating fermented foods like sauerkraut and buying produce and meat directly from farms also helped to reduce allergies in children.

Source: Andrew Seaman, Reuters Health

Pamela Hasterok