One of the most popular hypotheses to explain the rise in inflammatory conditions is known as the Hygiene Hypothesis, which says that our increasingly sterile lifestyle is to blame for our allergic reactions. We now live in a world of antibacterial soaps, instant hand sanitizer, vaccines, and antibiotics, all of which have taken over the job of protecting our children from dirt and germs. Left with nothing to do, kid’s immune systems get a little stir crazy, and start attacking even minor invaders like pollen with increased zeal.
But Ilkka Hanski and her colleagues from the University of Helsinki in Finland suggest the Hygiene Hypothesis extends beyond how clean we keep our house. They put forward a Biodiversity Hypothesis, which suggests that less contact with the nature and biodiversity is adversely affecting the microbes on and in our bodies, leading to increased susceptibility to immune disorders.