Why our allergies are getting worse —and what to do about it

Seasonal allergies are getting worse, affecting 30 to 40% of the world’s population.

Rise in allergies: Medical anthropologist Theresa MacPhail explores theories behind the increase in allergies in her book, Allergic
* Factors include an excessive emphasis on hygiene, a shift in diets towards processed foods and less fiber, and a rise in exposure to environmental toxins.

Hygiene hypothesis: It is suggested that early exposure to germs and bacteria, especially for young children, helps to train their immune systems and prevent oversensitivity.

Diet’s effect: The change in diets over the last 200 years, from natural foods to processed, directly impacts the balance of our gut microbiome, throwing off the immune system.

Skin as defense: Our skin acts as a barrier against allergens, and showering less frequently or using milder products can help maintain a healthy defense against allergies.

View original article on NPR

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