BBC News – Lack of contact with nature ‘increasing allergies’

23/05/2012 5:05
BBC News – Lack of contact with nature ‘increasing allergies’

Isn’t it amazing, you start to post on a theme and all of a sudden there are studies flooding every media source, confirming what you (and most of the population) already know. Studies are great. What else is great, rocks, rocks are great… but that can be another post. Read on McDuff.

Excerpts below -the full article can be read from the link above

“A lack of exposure to a “natural environment” could be resulting in more urban dwellers developing allergies and asthma, research has suggested. Finnish scientists say certain bacteria, shown to be beneficial for human health, are found in greater abundance in non-urban surroundings. The microbiota play an important role in the development and maintenance of the immune system, they add.
The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“There are microbes everywhere, including in the built environment, but the composition is different between natural environments and human-built areas,” explained co-author Ilkka Hanski from the University of Helsinki. “The microbiota in natural environments is more beneficial for us,” he told BBC News.

The team collected samples from 118 teenagers in eastern Finland, and found that those living on farms or near forests had more diverse bacteria on their skin, and also displayed lower allergen sensitivity. “They are important for us because they promote microbiota… that are important for the normal development and maintenance of the immune system,” Dr Hanski observed.

We know that if you live more near green spaces, and you are from a deprived urban population, you are more likely to be healthier” Urbanisation can be seen as a lost opportunity for many people to interact with the natural environment and its biodiversity, including the microbial communities.While it was not possible to reverse the global trend of urbanisation, he said that there were a number of options.

“Apart from reserving natural areas outside of urban areas, I think it is important to develop city planning that includes green spaces, green belts and green infrastructure,” Dr Hanski suggested.

………………Another recent study also illustrated a link between the lack of green spaces and higher stress levels among people living in urban areas described as deprived. The study published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning measured levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress, found in residents’ saliva. “The stress patterns revealed by these cortisol samples were related to the amount of green space around people’s homes,” explained co-author Catharine Ward Thompson…..”We were actually surprised by the strong relationship between the two,” she told BBC News. ….”We know that if you live near more green spaces, and you are from a deprived urban population, you are more likely to be healthier,” she observed……”If you lived within 10 minutes of a park, then you were twice as likely to achieve the recommended minimum amount of physical activity.”

Tess Michaels