Our body is not ready for the realities of the modern environment.
Most of the chronic diseases that pester us are the result of living in a modern environment. This does not mean that we would be better off in the environment in which our ancestors existed. Life then was not just hard, cruel and short – everything was much worse.
Imagine the infection of an unerupted wisdom tooth at a time when dentists were gone. Infection in the tiniest wound leads to the slow death of a limb or death. The standard treatment – pouring boiling oil over the wound – only works occasionally. Amputations, made possible by the advent of steel instruments, are performed in an instant because anesthesia is still a long way off. A large fetus is a death sentence for a woman in labor. Do not forget the banal death of starvation. We are now much healthier than our ancestors.
And yet, many of today’s health problems stem from the environment we have created to satisfy our desires. Now the bulk of the population of developed communities is living better materially and physically than kings and queens just a hundred years ago. We have no shortage of delicious food, protection from the weather, pain relievers, free time to do what we love. However, these undoubtedly impressive achievements of civilization also have a downside – they are the cause of most of our chronic diseases.
If you have a chance to accompany a doctor during a round, ask him which of the current patients would not be here if we lived in the past. And it turns out that there would be no cancer patients, patients with heart and lung diseases caused by smoking; there would not be those whose diseases are provoked by alcohol and drugs. There would not be a significant mass of diabetics, as well as those suffering from high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and diseases associated with obesity. Most breast cancer patients would not develop it at all. Almost (or not at all) patients with multiple sclerosis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other autoimmune diseases, which have recently become epidemic, would not be found.
The greatest good of modern life – an abundance of food – turns into the greatest evil. More precisely, surrogates turn out to be evil, which manufacturers manufacture with the doses of sugar, salt and fats coveted by humans. In the African savannah, where sugar, salt and fats were rare, cravings for them were beneficial for the body, but now this same craving brings us excess weight and illness. Addiction to tobacco did not threaten anything special until we began to develop milder varieties and invented tissue paper – now smoking causes a third of all cancers and a considerable share of cardiovascular diseases.
Fermented beverages existed in former times, but now beer, wine and spirits are sold at every turn, contributing to the spread of alcoholism throughout the world. The development of chemistry and transportation has led to the massive availability of hard drugs like heroin and amphetamine, which, combined with new means of administration (such as syringes), provoke large-scale modern epidemics.
Thanks to improved nutrition, babies mature faster – many girls now begin their periods at the age of eleven or twelve, that is, long before the body and mind are fully prepared for pregnancy, not to mention caring for their own child.
The predisposition to disease is growing, among other things, due to the more subtle and elusive components of the environment. Night lighting disrupts the normal production of melatonin and thereby increases the statistics of cancer. Taking the contraceptive pill multiplies the number of menstrual cycles in a modern woman by four and, in an appropriate proportion, increases the exposure to hormones and the incidence of cancer compared to the representatives of earlier times.
The prevalence of certain mental illnesses is also explained by life in the modern environment. Drug addiction and substance abuse, eating disorders, attention deficit are mainly problems of a modern, developed society. Depression and anxiety disorders are often viewed exclusively as today’s disaster, but we know little about their prevalence in the old days. Schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder do not seem to have become more frequent.
Inconsistency is the first of six reasons for our predisposition to disease and a significant cause of some mental disorders.