Can hygiene really be a link to autoimmune diseases? Some think so and have given this a name – the “hygiene hypothesis.”
There is documentation that autoimmune disorders (and asthma) are linked to hygiene. It seems our clean lifestyle can hurt us. We don’t have to fight germs like people did in the past or people do in Third World Countries.
As a result our immune systems have shifted away from fighting infection to developing more allergic tendencies and autoimmune diseases. Our immune systems are supposed to fight all kinds of infections. It sees foreign substances as bad.
In comes vaccines and our immune systems are no longer burdened with fighting off life-threatening diseases such as polio and measles. In also comes antibiotics and our immune systems don’t have to fight bacterial infections.
Our homes are cleaner than ever with state of the art windows to say on energy and air-tight doors to save on money.
In addition, rather than five children spreading germs around the house, the one or two- child family lessens our kids’ exposure to germs. A few decades back there were fewer kids with allergies.
A study published in 2009 showed for the first time that the hygiene hypothesis exists. The genes identified produce “stuff” that forms part of the immune system and that are involved in inflammation
The following is technical but is you skip the jargon you will get to the point. “According to the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, the decreasing incidence of infections in western countries and more recently in developing countries is at the origin of the increasing incidence of both autoimmune and allergic diseases. The hygiene hypothesis is based upon epidemiological data, particularly migration studies, showing that subjects migrating from a low-incidence to a high-incidence country acquire the immune disorders with a high incidence at the first generation. However, these data and others showing a correlation between high disease incidence and high socio-economic level do not prove a causal link between infections and immune disorders. Proof of principle of the hygiene hypothesis is brought by animal models and to a lesser degree by intervention trials in humans. Underlying mechanisms are multiple and complex. They include decreased consumption of homeostatic factors and immunoregulation, involving various regulatory T cell subsets and Toll-like receptor stimulation. These mechanisms could originate, to some extent, from changes in microbiota caused by changes in lifestyle, particularly in inflammatory bowel diseases. Taken together, these data open new therapeutic perspectives in the prevention of autoimmune and allergic diseases.” Source
Some interesting links: