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  • Posted November 10th, 2015

    The number of people with allergies is rising rapidly; but 10 times as many people believe that they have allergies, when in fact they don’t

    The number of people with allergies is rising rapidly; but 10 times as many people believe that they have allergies, when in fact they don’t

    Just heard a Radio 4 programme about allergies, which dovetailed with a lot of our beliefs. Here are the highlights.

    • Allergies are diseases of developed countries. (I don’t like that word; development suggests improvement, in which case we’ve stopped developing. It’s corporatisation now, and it’s making things worse.)
    • Allergies are increasing rapidly in the West.
    • Ten times as many people think they have allergies or intolerances but don’t, than actually do; so the number of adults self-diagnosing as allergic is around 20% of the population, whereas the number of people who actually have (often life-threatening) allergies is around 1-2% of the population.
    • A corporate ‘free-from’ food industry has developed to sell things to these people.
    • Allergies can be caused by over-cleanliness / sterility and fussiness with children’s food, which removes the body’s own ability to deal with a wide range of substances / organisms.
    • Over-fussiness in adulthood perpetuates the problem.
    • Eating food with nutrition removed is bad for us – whether that lack of nutrition is due to processing or by deliberately removing it for the ‘free-from’ market.

    Disappointingly, the programme didn’t discuss solutions to the problem. I’d suggest that we look at making our food supply more natural, more sustainable, less toxic, and crucially, less corporate. I’ve heard the anti-corporate argument before on the BBC, so they do give voice to this perspective – and so I’m not really complaining. I’d just like to see it discussed to its logical conclusion – which is – well, you tell me.

    But apart from the more revolutionary angle, I’d suggest that:

    a) we try to get as much food as we can from sustainable, non-corporate sources – i.e. food co-ops, organic veg boxes, community-supported agriculture, or grow our own.

    b) we don’t get dietary advice from people who are not qualified to give dietary advice.

    c) corporate capitalism makes us ill – mentally and physically, and if we don’t change direction, the future will contain much more in the way of ‘free-from’ foods, chemotherapy and anti-depressants, as well as IVF.

    Here’s the programme.

    The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's


    • 1Peter Richardson November 10th, 2015

      By not hoovering the house very often, I’m keeping my young daughter healthily free of asthma, eczema and allergies. Win win! Deep sympathy to those people who do have such conditions though… often not caused by anything they did ‘wrong’ I’m sure. Official advice swings 180 degrees regularly… we’re now advised to expose babies to peanut butter in their diet as early as possible – only recently the official line was ‘keep babies away from peanut products’ ( http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/23/feed-babies-peanuts-reverse-allergy-rise )

      As a society we really need to relax about bugs. Some households use antibacterial soap, antibacterial kitchen spray, hoover all the time, wash their clothes and bodies every day… and wonder why they are so unhealthy.

    • 2Dave Darby November 10th, 2015

      Yes, the programme mentioned that – don’t fuss about trying to keep kids away from every kind of bug. Exposure to dirt or things they might be allergic to allows them to build a resistance that can prevent them from getting allergies / intolerances / illnesses later in life.

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