Daily Dose: 10/10/12

Put the Hand Sanitizer Down: As much as we like to keep ourselves and our environments super clean to prevent illness, it may be important to let some germs in. New research has been done on the hygiene hypothesis, an old theory that suggests that children who grow up in a less tidy environment may be less at risk for developing allergies and other similar sensitivities. One of the more recent studies showed that Amish children who grew up on farms were less likely to have allergies or asthma, most likely due to their exposure to germs and bacteria. Scientists explain that the body’s immune system needs to be exposed to some germs in order to become “fine-tuned,” or to differentiate between what is good and what is bad. Also, if the immune system never needs to go to work against germs, it may mobilize against less serious irritants, such as harmless allergens. Other research suggests that the immune system can actually be reset later in life, so even those of us who grew up in Bubble Boy-like environments can expose ourselves to a little bacteria now and be better off in the long run.

Social Media is Apparently More Tempting Than Sex: A recent study in Germany discovered that the urge to check social media sites is more tempting than the urge to have sex. Those involved in the study regular updated researchers via smartphone on their cravings — those for food, sex, alcohol, sleep, and social media sites. Forty-two percent of participants said that cravings for social media were the hardest to resist. Researchers explain that social media sites fulfill our short-term reward centers, as well as fulfill our desires for social bonding and curiosity. If you crave Facebook more than sex, you might need to reevaluate your love life — but don’t worry, you aren’t alone.

Yoga At Work: As silly as it may sound, performing yoga in the middle of a work (or school) day may be extremely beneficial for both  mental and physical health. A British study found that in adults with moderate stress and back pain, those that did yoga once or twice a week, either during a lunch break or after work, for eight weeks were more likely to experience lower stress levels and a decrease in back pain. The findings may not be applicable to men, as the study involved mostly female participants, and researchers were not able to rule out the placebo effect – that is, that the yoga helped simply because the participants expected it to. More research is planned, especially on whether adults who do yoga will take fewer sick days.