Certain studies have given rise to the "hygiene hypothesis"
Almost everyone nowadays is allergic to something. Does pollen make you sneeze? Do cats make you itch? Is peanut butter a no-go? You may be able to blame all that on your microbiome.
We've developed a culture of hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes, antibacterial soaps, and constant fear of "germs." But this focus on clean has impacted us in a number of ways, and scientists have begun to map out the consequences of our germaphobia. Certain studies have given rise to the "hygiene hypothesis," which explains that as the number of infections goes down, the incidence of allergies and autoimmune diseases is going up.
We've discussed the importance of a robust gut microbiome. The bacterial colonies in our gut help us digest what we eat and help keep us healthy, so we can understand that your food allergies would be impacted by the bacteria in your gut. But what about pollen allergies, or dander allergies?
Research is still underway, but things are headed in an interesting direction. There is a lot of focus on early intervention -- making sure that pregnant moms keep their microbiomes healthy and impart their good bacteria to their babies, and helping babies develop their own microbiomes with healthy diets and new practices like c-section swabbing. Some ongoing research is also aimed at reactive treatment, like one study testing probiotics as a remedy for hay fever -- but don't throw away your Zyrtec just yet! The research is only just beginning.
Organizations like the Human Microbiome Project are helping to grow our understanding of the interplay between our bodies and the bacteria we are home to. We can't wait to see what we'll learn next :)
Read More: Swab, Then Swaddle: Inoculating C-Section Babies with Vaginal Bacteria
Read More: The Probiotic Puzzle