There are elements of the American lifestyle that impede good health and contribute to gut dysbiosis and immune dysregulation.
These elements are many, but can be summarized by a few key American habits.
American children no longer spend their days outdoors in contact with the natural world.
According to a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group, Americans spend 65% of their time in their houses, 25% in some other indoor environment, 5 to 7% of their time in transit between these places, and approximately 5% of their time is spent outdoors.
Compare this to Americans living an agricultural lifestyle centuries ago where most of the day was spent outdoors.
This is important for two main reasons.
First, children are not coming into contact with natural microorganisms that are critical for immune development and maturation.
This includes exposure to soil microorganisms that are considered among the friendly microbes that populate the gastrointestinal tract.
Studies show that children raised on farms have lower rates of allergic diseases and chronic illnesses in general.
Second, indoor lifestyles deprive American children of sun-derived vitamin D.
Vitamin D is a critical component of immune function.
People who are chronically deficient of vitamin D can become immuno-compromised and sick.
Rickets is a well-known historical example of what happens to children who are vitamin D deficient.
Indoor lifestyles coupled with obsessive sunscreen habits, deprive American children of immune-building vitamin D.
Recent research reveals that over three-quarters of Americans are vitamin D deficient.
Thus, lack of outdoor living can contribute to gut dysbiosis and immune dysregulation.
Changes over the last century with regard to birthing modalities and infant feeding habits have also impacted the health of children.
Vaginal delivery and breastfeeding both introduce good bacteria (lactobacillus and bifidobacteria) into an infant’s body.
Depriving a child of this exposure by formula feeding and caesarean delivery can potentially lead to gut dysbiosis and immune dysregulation, as the children’s guts are often populated with other, less beneficial, microbes.
Stress, is another lifestyle factor that can contribute to immune dysregulation and gut dysbiosis.
Studies have shown that stress can cause a body to shed good bacteria, which may be implicated in the suppression of the immune system that is also known to coincide with stress.
Americans are an incredibly stressed nation of people, and this does not exclude children.
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This document is not a substitute for medical advice, treatment, diagnosis, or consultation with a medical professional. It is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be relied on to make determinations related to treatment of a medical condition. Epidemic Answers has not verified and does not guaranty the accuracy of the information provided in this document.