The new study, conducted by a team of researchers from Sweden, revealed that families who do their dishes by hand have a 40% lower risk of having children with allergic reactions, compared to children whose families use a dishwasher.
One of the researchers involved in the study, Dr. Bill Hesselmar, an allergy expert at the University of Gothenburg, Department of Pediatrics, explained that cleaning the dishes by hand does not clean them as efficient as a dishwasher, but this is actually a positive thing because it helps protect against several allergies by exposing the members of the family to more bacteria.
The recent results confirm a medical theory called the “hygiene hypothesis”, which says that exposing children to microbes during the early years can help stimulate their immune systems.
Scientists believe that this stimulation can actually helps lower the risks of developing allergies later on.
According to Dr. Hesselmar, washing the dishes by hand is associated with other lifestyle factors that can lead to an increased exposure to microbes.
Dr. Hesselmar says that previous studies have shown that a lower income environment, living in a crowded space or families who are immigrants, have a reduced risk of developing allergies.
All these factors seem to be related to the fact that these families wash the dishes by hand, according to the researchers.
For the new study, the scientists analyzed the data from more than 1,000 children, aged 7-8 years old, from two regions of Sweden.
The parents of the children were asked whether their kids suffered from asthma, eczema or seasonal allergies.
The researchers also asked the parents about their dishwashing practices and how often their children ate farm-fresh or fermented foods. According to the doctors, these types of foods have an increased content of bacteria than other foods.
The study showed that the allergy rates among the families who hand-washed their dishes were lower. Also, the kids who ate fermented foods had less allergies, according to the reports.
Researchers detailed their findings in the journal Pediatrics.
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