What’s Ailing You? How Modern Life May Be Making Us Ill

By Craig Lewis
Buddhistdoor Global | 2017-02-23 |
From rfa.comFrom

Scientists recently issued a stern warning that the habits, stresses, and demands of modern life—including pollution, sedentary lifestyles, the ubiquity of processed food, and excessive use of digital devices—are confusing our senses, which evolved to live in a very different world, and may be taking a hefty toll on our physical and mental wellbeing.

Three researchers were speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), held in Boston, Massachusetts on 16–20 February, under the theme “Serving Society Through Science Policy.” The experts highlighted how our understanding of how the human senses evolved can offer greater insight into the way they are affected by external stimuli and the “state of mismatch” we are experiencing between the their normal function and the environments in which we currently live. (AAAS)

Kara Hoover, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alaska, underscored how pollution has become a fact of daily life for so many modern societies and its implications. “Pollution tends to disrupt the sense of smell and that puts you at greater risk of things like mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, and it also puts you at greater risk for physical health [problems], such as obesity, and greater risk for social health, not being able to pick up on social cues from other human beings,” said Prof. Hoover. She noted that a diminished sense of smell is also believed to be a contributing factor to over-eating because people get less enjoyment from their food. (Independent)

Prof. Hoover posited that reducing pollution from fossil fuels and other sources would be a major factor in creating healthier, happier societies. “We’re not going to leave buildings, we’re not going to leave our computers, we’re not going to abandon that, so we need to actually create environments that engage us with the outdoors and also that, when we go outside, we’re not in a polluted space,” she said. (AAAC)

From webmd.comFrom

Speaking on how the food industry has changed the human body and the obesity epidemic that is becoming a global problem, Paul Breslin, professor of nutritional sciences at Rutgers University, observed that one major reason is sugar—a common ingredient found in almost all processed food products. “The love of sugar in humans, I think, can be tied to the fact we are an ape and shared a common ancestor millions of years ago with the other apes on the planet . . . all of which live in forests and are primarily eating fruit, which is both sweet and sour,” he noted. “In the forests around the equator, there are no seasons. The fruits just come and go as the trees come into fruit . . . animals will go up into the trees and gorge on the sugary foods until there are no more to eat and will actually become chubby in the process.” (Independent)

Humans, he observed, while retaining the strong primal instinct to indulge that sweet tooth have access to an almost unlimited choice of sweetened foods all year round, leading to the consumption of unnaturally high quantities of sugar. “That ape that’s in us drives us up into the tree to love these sugary and sour foods,” said Prof. Breslin. “We climb up into this tree that our society has created and we gorge on the fruit but the tree never comes out of fruit and we never come down out of the tree.” (Independent, International Business Times)

Prof. Amanda Melin, assistant professor of anthropology and archaeology at Calgary University, noted that in addition to the physical toll from long hours spent indoors sitting in front of a computer, there are also serious consequences for our eyesight. “We’re inside, we’re in fake lighting, we’re not spending as much time outside in the context in which our vision system evolved,” she explained. (Independent)

“There’s mounting evidence that our anthropogenic light environments are having a real cost on our [visual] acuity,” said Prof. Melin, adding that rates of myopia—or nearsightedness—have been soaring in recent years. Acknowledging the genetic component of myopia, she emphasized that evidence indicated that environmental factors such as dark rooms, artificial lighting, and time spent on near-work tasks (like staring at a computer screen or mobile device) also play a contributing role. (AAAC)

 “What we need to do is we need to get outside more in order for our eyeball to grow properly and for us to have the right proportions so that the images are really clearly in focus on the retina. . . . And so we need to think about perhaps putting policies in place to get kids and young adults outdoors more.” (Independent)

Please support our work
    Share your thoughts:
    Reply to:
    Name: *
    Content: *
    Captcha: *
    Back to Top