Why the Amish Are Healthier and What it Should Tell Us About Our Society
The Amish have found a way to live in a world of materialism and modern conveniences while avoiding all of the above. It’s a society bottled up within a larger society that it plays little to no role in and at the same time it has a strange mystique.
The Amish immigrated from Switzerland in the early 18th century following a schism in the church which caused the Amish Mennonites to split from the Swiss Mennonite Conference. Today the Amish number about 249,000 in the U.S. and Canada.
They have prohibitions against electricity, telephones, cars, and still farm in the much the same way that they did in Switzerland in the 1800s.
Amish Kids Have Far Less Allergies
One researcher in Indiana, Dr. Mark Holbreich has studied incidences of allergies among Amish children. He teamed up with researchers to look at incidences among both Swiss farm children and Swiss children. Holbreich, an allergist in heavily Amish populated Indiana noticed very few cases of allergies amongst Amish children, according to a story on Yahoo News.
Researchers surveyed 138 Amish families, 3,000 Swiss farming families, and 11,000 Swiss families in a recent study. Five percent of Amish kids were diagnosed with asthma along with 6.8 percent of Swiss farm kids, and 11.2 percent of Swiss kids. Researchers also found a lower incidence of childhood allergies after giving kids from all three groups a common prick test. Amish kids had a 7 percent chance of having allergies which was no comparison to the 25 percent of Swiss farm kids and 44 percent of Swiss kids who showed allergies.
Researchers aren’t sure what’s causing such drastic differences but they have a few ideas including the abundance of raw milk drank may Amish children and early exposure to allergens. Their immune systems may be able to recognize them without reacting to them.
We're Too Clean For Our Own Good
Modern life may be too clean while Amish children still walk about in bare feet and work outside next to livestock and dirt. "We’ve developed a cleanlier lifestyle, and our bodies no longer need to fight germs as much as they did in the past," said Marc McMorris, a pediatric allergist at the University of Michigan Health System. "As a result, the immune system has shifted away from fighting infection to developing more allergic tendencies."
Live Science reports:
More than 50 percent of Americans ages 6 to 59 years are sensitive to at least one allergen, according to a national survey conducted from 1988 to 1994 by the National Institutes of Health. That's two to five times higher than rates found in a previous 1976 to 1980 survey.
Less Cancer, Heart Disease, and Obesity
The Amish also grow their own food, avoid junk and processed foods all together, and shun alcohol, cigarettes, and pharmaceuticals. They engage in constant physical labor due to a lack of modern farming equipment.
According to the Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center, Amish cancer rates are just 56 percent of the national average. Skin cancer rates are much lower thanks to their plain dress clothing, even though the Amish are always outside. Tobacco related cancer rates are drastically lower because the Amish by religion are not allowed to smoke. There’s also a lower incidence of heart disease and virtually no obesity, although they do see more cases of genetic disorders such as dwarfism as a result of their smaller genetic pool.
It seems that their simple living and reluctance to enjoy a fast-paced, modern way of living may also have shielded the Amish from many forms of illness which plague the 21st century.