Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Raw Milk...And Allergies?

Okay, I recognize that anyone who regularly reads this blog is probably getting sick of hearing about raw milk, but I heard something on NPR last month that I wanted to share.

A team of researchers was looking at allergies in children, and they found that being exposed to dirty environments actually lessens a child's likelihood of developing allergies.

According to the "hygiene hypothesis," by keeping children in too-clean environments, their immune systems never learn to cope with foreign substances, and as a result never develop good defenses against them, which can lead to allergies.

Meanwhile, the so-called "farm effect" shows that children raised on farms have lower incidences of allergies.

The study looked at Amish children, who are not only exposed to the dirt and dust of farm life, but also - surprise! - drink raw milk.

A common theme I've heard is that raw milk products are an immune system booster. But now I wonder if it's not so much that raw milk actually boosts immune systems, so much as improving them by introducing them to allergens, pathogens, and so forth that they can then learn to fight off.

Of course, the leader of the study cautions against feeding children raw milk products because of the associated liabilities... er, I mean health risks. But regardless, there is some food for thought in this report.

What I find most interesting isn't even the study itself, so much as the fact that there are actually conventional medical professionals out there who are starting to look at the health benefits of raw milk. In my (admittedly somewhat spotty) research, I have been searching for studies like this, and believe me when I say that it is very difficult to find anyone who is studying raw milk out there. But that is a topic for another day.

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