Society tends to think that microbes are dangerous to our health; however, there are beneficial ones for our health. A paper published in the journal Trends in Microbiology emphasizes on the benefits of living with these microorganisms at home and even suggests to take this factor into account in the design of housing.
In the article, environmental engineers of Yale University said that current architecture focuses on the design, energy efficiency and sustainability, but not exposure to microbes that are good for health. To sustain their case, the authors refer to literature that has showed that rural children exposed to certain microbes are less likely to develop allergies as a result of this contact.
And this is a remarkable because a children within a family living in an agriculture environment, working in the fields, using horses for transportation, and drinking unpasteurized milk, are less than half as likely to develop asthma than children living suburban European environments (5.2% versus 19.1%).
This seems to be caused because some microbes send signals to a type of white blood cells called T lymphocytes, which may cause a change to help preventing unnecessary immune responses, explained the authors in a press release of Cell, where the article was published.
According with the authors, living with animals (especially dogs and cats) is another way to “train” our immune system: besides having their own microflora they also carry common bacteria and fungi from outside, “thus contributing to the beneficial diversity microbes inside our houses.”
The main question, according the authors, is “how does building design and occupant behavior (presence of pets, excess moisture, building materials, occupancy patterns, geography, and building ventilation) modulate microbial exposure and the human microbiome?”
Scientific research is identifying more and more of these beneficial microbes and “we need to think about how to facilitate our exposure to them.”
However, they explained there would not be a unique approach to enhance microbial diversity of our homes. “The advantage is that this is a new field of study.” A quantity approach to solve this problem could be developed to offer a best solution “than inhalers or air filters.”
Source: Agencia ID