We’re all different, thats an obvious fact I know, but how many people do you know with intolerances/allergies to particular foods? I can count at least 5 out of 12 of my closest friends that have some form of food sensitivity to a lesser degree and I would consider that a fair amount considering food to be our lifeline. But go back a hundred years ago; Were food sensitivities known of?
The answer is yes and no. The rate of food allergies, has more than doubled in the past decade and is most apparent in toddlers. But lets not lose site of the difference between an allergy and an intolerance. An allergy affects the immune system. When someone eats, lets say, nuts, wheat or shellfish, it triggers an immune response releasing histamine which causes a runny nose, rashes, watery eyes or gastrointestinal discomfort and some stronger responses of anaphylactic shock.
Then there is intolerances, this is to do with the bodies metabolism and how the body processes certain foods. For example for those of us suffering with IBS (irritable Bowel Syndrome) or fibromyalgia, the body is unable to properly absorb nutrients resulting in malapsorbsion issues, thus triggering symptoms of bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, weight gain, weight loss, muscular pain and joint pain.
But why now? How come, that in the 21st century we’re becoming more and more sensitive to major foods which are supposed to sustain us? There are many theories that argue it is our environmental surroundings and that now we live in a world obsessed with cleanliness or that we are over exposed to pollution and toxins which has confused our immune system and messed with our hormonal imbalances which control our bodies functioning.
Then there’re those who believe that it is due to genetics, and that food allergies and intolerance’s are passed down from generation to generation. But my question is, doesn’t natural selection play a part in the role of evolution. Going back a hundred years ago, this was probably the true. If a child had nut or milk allergies or other adverse intolerance’s, they were unfortunately left untreated and had higher risks of fatality in infants and therefore would not pass their genes on. However, due to the progression of medicine, technology and a better understanding of the immune and digestive system, we are now able to treat the symptoms of these illnesses related to food sensitivities (such as IBS, Chrons, Ulcerative Colitis, fibromyalgia etc) and therefore if those of us with these food related diseases have a child it is highly likely that, that child will suffer from some form of food sensitivity and this is why now more than ever we are seeing a rise in food specific diseases.
And there there are those of who develop food sensitivities as we get older. This can be a result of physiological damage due to medicinal treatment or nerve damage. Take myself for example. When I was a child I grew up with chronic constipation and even the doctors at great Ormand St in London were baffled as to why I had constipation at my severity, and so would treat me with laxatives, enemas and suppositories (this started at the age of 6 months for me).
So, I wonder what Darwin would say? Pass the cheese and let nature takes it’s course, probably. I’m no scientist or biologist, nor am I a doctor, however in my opinion, I think it could be a number of things. I believe modern medicine and technology are both a blessing and curse. We need them to rid us of disease and illness, but interfering with natures plan of action has resulted in a weaker human. We are becoming more allergic to our own environments, obesity is growing at an alarming rate and we are losing our ability to listen to what our body really needs and instead replacing it with our wants. I’m also wondering whether nature is adapting and challenging our bodies response to those of us living with food sensitivities. It is more predominant that those of us with digestive disturbances are also linked to having infertility problems. So, my question to you is what ‘would’ Darwin say?
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one most adaptable to change.”
– Leon C. Megginson, on his interpretation of Charles Darwin’s ideas of evolution, 1963
*Many believe this was a quotation directly from Darwin himself, however Megginson did not claim that he was quoting the words of Darwin. Nevertheless, over time, in various processes this passage has been simplified, shortened, altered, and labelled directly to Darwin.