window cleaner next to paper towels

Why a “too clean” home may harm your child

Keeping your home a bit “too clean” by using common multi-surface disinfectants could be changing and harming your child’s gut bacteria by making them more susceptible to obesity.

That’s the chief finding from data culled from an examination of fecal samples collected from 757 Canadian babies, along with their exposure to various cleaning products, according to a recent report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Babies living in homes where disinfectants were used every week were twice as likely to have increased levels of one bacteria (Lachnospiraceae), according to researchers.

That difference in one strain of bacteria was enough to elevate the chances of young children being overweight by age 3, compared to kids who weren’t exposed to disinfectants as infants, says Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, the principal investigator on the SyMBIOTA project that examines how altering the gut health of infants impacts their health.

Canadian scientists could see the connection, especially as they discovered babies living in households with greater use of more eco-friendly cleaners had a decreased risk of becoming overweight or obese.

Although this study cited concerns about the use of antibacterial cleaners, researchers didn’t track the kinds of chemicals being used to clean the homes where their participants lived as babies.

Still, these results may be more evidence of the hygiene hypothesis, in which the body’s immune responses are reversed due to continuing exposure to disinfectants, antibacterial chemicals, antibiotics and bottled water, all of them intended to make our lives way too clean.

(The hygiene hypothesis can also work to protect kids from health problems like asthma. For example, Amish children surrounded by nature, farm animals and common house dust — a less hygienic environment than most homes — were less likely to suffer from asthma, according to a New England Journal of Medicine report.)

Fortunately, there’s a simple and healthy solution to protect the delicate balance of bacteria in your baby’s gut and reduce his/her risks of obesity at the same time (especially for moms who can’t breastfeed for very long or at all).

A quarter-teaspoon of EndoMune Jr. Powder, recommended for children up to age 3, contains four strains of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria families along with a prebiotic (FOS) that keeps their gut health in balance.

10 safe, natural ways to stop allergies

With the warmth of spring comes the nagging irritation of allergies for 50 million Americans, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Unfortunately, spring allergies could stretch long into the summer depending on where you live, and factors like the priming effect, climate change and hygiene hypothesis could influence their severity. Complicating the treatment of allergies further are the unexpected side effects that arise from relying too often on antihistamines.

National Asthma and Allergy Awareness month has come around at the ideal time to remind you of the many ways you can keep these pesky allergens from harming your health without drugs. What follows are 10 completely safe and effective ways to do just that.

Keep it clean

1. To prevent allergens from following you into your home, wash your body every day and change your clothes. And, don’t forget to leave your shoes at the front door too.

2. A 2013 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found acupuncture, a natural treatment that brings pain relief to millions, may also be effective for allergy sufferers. Patients who received acupuncture showed greater improvements and didn’t use their antihistamines as often.

3. Cutting back on fast foods and eating at least three servings of fruit per day may reduce symptoms. Consuming fast food at least three times a week elevated the risks of severe asthma by up to 39 percent among young children and teens.

4. Checking local weather reports every day for pollen counts is crucial. You can also access online resources like The Weather Channel’s Allergies page or the National Allergy Bureau to get personalized forecasts for your area.

5. Closing your windows and running your air conditioner longer will add to your energy costs, but doing both will reduce pollen from swimming into your home.

Protect your bedroom from allergy invaders

6. You spend more time in your bedroom than any other place in your home, thus it’s important to wash all bed sheets, pillow cases and blankets in water heated to at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit every week, according to the Mayo Clinic.

7. Invest a little money by having professional cleaners do a deep cleaning of your entire home, including baseboards, window shades, tile floors and ceilings. And, don’t forget to change your home’s air filters promptly and wash your washing machines to remove extra surprises.

8. Although washing pets can be problematic — your cat will hate you for even considering it — create allergy-free zones in your home to restrict their access, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

9. Working to alleviate the stressors that flood your head may reduce the number of flare-ups with more intense symptoms, according to a recent Ohio State University study.

10. Because your body is under non-stop attack from allergens, taking a probiotic may help, as this recent PLOS ONE study showed in boosting the immunity of patients to hay fever.

With its multiple strains of beneficial bacteria, EndoMune Advanced Probiotic boosts your immune system naturally and safely while maintaining your good gut health.

Can Probiotics Lessen Infantile Allergies?

In last month’s newsletter, I mentioned some of the benefits of probiotics for children. This month I would like to discuss how probiotics may lessen childhood allergies like asthma, eczema and hay fever.

Emergence of the Hygiene Theory

Over the last 30 years, there has been a two-to-three fold increase in childhood allergies in developed countries. This is significant as compared to the 19th century when hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and asthma were rare.

The rise in allergies like asthma, rhinitis, and eczema has not been seen in underdeveloped countries.  This observation has resulted in the “Hygiene Theory”(1).

The theory attributes the rise of allergies to our sanitized lifestyle. In our super-clean world –
vaccinations, anti-bacterial soaps, antibiotics, and airtight doors and windows – we are keeping dirt and disease-causing germs at bay.

Seventy percent of our immune system is in the intestines. Since the intestines serve as our window to our environment, it is important that the intestines monitor our exposure to harmful infections and toxins.

The Hygiene Theory explains the rise of allergies to a change in the immune activity of the gut (2). Our bodies no longer need to fight germs as much as they did in the past. As a result, the immune system has shifted away from fighting infection to developing more allergic tendencies.

The lymphocytes (immune cells) in the intestines are of several types:

  • Th1 helps to fight infections due to bacteria and viruses
  • Th2 responds to infections caused by parasites.

If an infant is not exposed to infectious bacteria and viruses, then Th1 will be less active, causing a shift the balance of activity in favor of the Th2 lymphocytes, producing antibodies to parasites and also to harmless allergens.

The initial theory has been modified some (3).  There is another lymphocyte called a regulatory cell (Treg). This lymphocyte can regulate the activity of both Th1 and Th2 lymphocytes. By adding probiotic bacteria, the (Treg) cells can downregulate the Th2 allergy-mediated immune response.

Probiotics to Regulate Incidence of Eczema

In 2001, a study was done to determine if giving probiotics to mothers prenatally and to infants for the first six months could lessen the frequency of eczema (4). During the first two years of life, eczema occurred 50% less in the group given probiotics compared to the group given placebo.

Subsequent similar studies have had mixed results (5). However, a recent study found that giving a probiotic blend to pregnant women with a family history of allergies was beneficial. The women were given either a placebo or the probiotic starting 4-8 weeks before delivery and then for an additional three months. The infants receiving probiotics had a 55% less involvement with eczema at one year compared to the placebo group (6).

Based on the available studies, probiotics can modify the immune system in infants and lessen the risk of developing eczema and possibly childhood asthma.

There are very few studies that have shown that probiotics can treat existing allergies in children or adults (5). In this regard, it is of interest that a recent study reported probiotics lessened symptoms of nasal allergy in children during the birch pollen season (7).

Much more research is needed to understand how probiotics interact with the intestinal immune cells, but it is really fascinating how our intestinal bacteria play such a major role in our general health.

Take Home Message

For women who are allergy prone, taking a probiotic like EndoMune may help prevent eczema in their offspring. In addition, giving EndoMune Junior to your child during infancy may help to lessen the risk of developing allergies. It is always recommended that you talk to your doctor before taking new medications and supplements.

(1) Strachan DP. Hay fever, hygiene, and household size. BMJ. 1989 Nov 18; 299(6710):1259–1260.

(2)Probiotics in children.Kliger B, Hanaway P, Cohrssen A. Pediatr Clin North Am.2007 Dec;54(6): 949 Kligler B, Hanaway P, Cohrssen A.

(3)Hygiene theory and allergy and asthma prevention. Liu AH.Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2007 Nov;21 Suppl 3:2-7.

(4)Probiotics in primary prevention of atopic disease: a randomized placebo-controlled trial.Kalliomäki M, Salminen S, Arvilommi H, Kero P, Koskinen P, Isolauri E.Lancet. 2001 Apr 7;357(9262):1076-9.

(5)Effect of probiotic mix (Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus) in the primary prevention of eczema: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.Kim JY, Kwon JH, Ahn SH, Lee SI, Han YS, Choi YO, Lee SY, Ahn KM, Ji GE.Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2009 Oct 14.

(6)Probiotics and prebiotics in atopic dermatitis: a review of the theoretical background and clinical evidence.van der Aa LB, Heymans HS, van Aalderen WM, Sprikkelman ABPediatr Allergy Immunol. 2009 Jul 2.

(7)Specific probiotics alleviate allergic rhinitis during the birch pollen season. Ouwehand AC, Nermes M, Collado MC, Rautonen N, Salminen S, Isolauri E. World J Gastroenterol. 2009 Jul 14;15(26):3261-8.

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