The dirtier the pig…

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Fact: A dirty pig is a healthy pig. A study carried out in Scotland on piglets reveals that living in a dirty environment from a very early age promotes the development of “good bacteria”.

By the time they reach adulthood, those filthy pigs have a particularly well-equipped immune system. Much better, in fact, than the immune system of pigs that have grown up in a confined situation – for the purposes of the study – and in a sterile environment.

The dirty pigs’ intestines produce 90% good bacteria – compared with less than 70% among the “clean” pigs – and particularly lactobacilla, which are very effective in combating intestinal disorders and pathogenic bacteria, such as salmonella and colibacilla.

Pigs who have always lived in a dirty environment also produce more T lymphocytes. They are also less susceptible to allergic reactions.

On the other hand, pigs raised in a protected environment are at greater risk of inflammatory reactions and abnormally high cholesterol levels.

So, does this mean that the virtues of dirt have finally been demonstrated?

Not just yet. It all remains a little pie in the sky and to extend these results to humans is still a step too far for scientists.

Though Dr Denise Kelly, co-author of this study, does not rule it out: the same bacteria develop in both humans and pigs and the size of their organs is quite similar, she agrees.

But new studies will still be needed before we can decide whether this is a study that has brought home the bacon!

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