Monday, December 28, 2009

Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine

Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine
I've been reading this book off and on for the last 6 months or so having it picked up at my school on a whim and then having it be required reading for my current food therapy class. Although I think a lot about health and wellness I have never connected evolutionary analysis to the health crises many face so acutely until reading this book. So many people respond to illness with "how can I not feel this?" not "why is this happening?" thereby not really looking at the root source of the issue and only temporarily quelling the "problem".

A few of the things I pulled from the book which I thought were neat:

"Many primates and other mammals can make their own vitamin C, but we humans cannot. Our ancestral shift to a high-fruit diet, rich in vitamin C, had the incidental consequence about 40 million years ago of allowing the degeneration of the biochemical machinery for making this vitamin. "

"It makes no evolutionary sense, for example, for the human developmental process to cause a large proportion of the population to grow incisors in malfunctional positions and to suffer so many problems with wisdom teeth. If a large proportion of modern children need orthodontia and then later some require expensive and painful surgery on wisdom teeth, it implies that there is something wrong with their environment. One possibility is a deficient demand for jaw exercise … meals would have required far more prolonged and vigorous chewing than is ever demanded of a modern child."

"Sitting for hours on chairs in classrooms is unnatural and nothing of the sort was ever demanded of stone age children. When they were sedentary, they would have been squatting not sitting… and would have been able to shift from squatting to kneeling to walking or running. Might it not be that today’s sufferers from lower back pain owe their distress to the hours of abnormal posture imposed during childhood?"

There are ton more like this and sections I found particularly interesting on morning sickness, allergies, cancer and tons more. It's not the sort of book you sit down and read in one sitting, well not for me anyway, but definitely great to get into in stretches of down time. I've got more like this coming so get psyched!!

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