Rural kids are warding off the flu bug; some are saying it’s their enhanced immune systems from a lifetime in the dirt.
I’ll admit there were times growing up when my sisters and I got so dirty playing outside that Mom threatened to hose us down outside before letting us in the house. We had water fights in the wash rack while hosing down our show calves; we made mud pies on occasion (yeah, it was probably wasn’t mud); we built forts in the shelter belt; we climbed trees; we picked wild flowers in the pastures; we helped weed the garden and pick vegetables; we even made a game out of scooping manure out of the barn!
I probably sound like an old-timer when I say this, but when I was a kid, we didn’t spend a lot of time inside playing on the computer. There was too much fun to be had outside!
I don’t know if we were healthier because of it, but we certainly were exposed to more germs on the farm, undoubtedly toughening up our immune systems. For instance, there's a nasty flu bug currently rampaging across the country, but some folks are noticing that it's a bigger issue in urban areas. Is that due to heightened rural immunity, fewer numbers, or both?
As reported by ABC News, farm kids are simply healthier.
“Peter and Shannon McDonald have made their home on a farm with their nine children. They are surrounded by farm animals — filthy ones, including chickens and slobbering pigs — but the eight boys and one brave girl have always been in perfect health. It turns out that in a culture obsessed with cleanliness and anti-bacterial lotion, the animals may be one of the reasons these kids are so healthy.
“A study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has found that some non-farm families are diagnosed with asthma nearly twice as much as their farm-dwelling counterparts. The results for hay fever were even more pronounced, with nearly four times as many non-farm family members diagnosed.
“Animals in general can be beneficial. A study published last year in the Journal of Pediatrics suggests that babies raised around dogs are 31% more likely to be healthy. Cats were shown to improve a baby’s health by 6%. The research suggests that exposure to pets may help children’s immune systems mature faster, with animals helping them grow antibodies to better combat infections.
“In addition to animals, studies show that having even a small backyard garden means you’ll eat five times as many vegetables, which can dramatically decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.”
So, what do you think? Are you healthier for living on a farm? Are your ranch kids able to buck the flu easier? Share your stories in the comments section below.