Why does it seem like within the last 5+ years, there are so many diagnoses of gluten allergies, food sensitivities, Celiac, Autism, etc...It seems like these are things that I never heard about 10 years ago. Are these really 'new' conditions or have doctors just never been able to put a name to the conditions before?
Is it possible that these are all conditions brought on by the SAD?
I think it's both: the medical world is starting to recognize that a lot of what were once considered idiopathic conditions (no identified cause) are finally being connected to gut health.
And gut health is SERIOUSLY compromised these days -- more than ever.
Why? Read Natasha Campbell McBride's GAPS book. More C-sections, more of us terrified of "bacteria" and sanitizing and sterilizing everything, individually wrapping and hermetically sealing everything -- never giving our bodies a chance to build up robust immune systems. Everything's pasteurized, irradiated, and generally d-e-a-d. Could also be the fact that wheat and soy have snuck into damn near everything. Buying supermarket pork sausage? Better read the label; chances are it has wheat and soy fillers. Wheat and soy - two of the most allergenic, irritating foods we've identified so far, and that's what they're adding to everything.
But most of all, I think this is the lesson from Pottenger's cat studies staring us in the face. My generation (I'm 33) is really the first generation that was fully raised on crap foods. HFCS entered the marketplace in 1985, I think, and the 80s were also when microwave cooking was huge. I'm not saying microwaving is inherently bad, but at least in my family, real food wasn't being cooked in the mic all that often. TV dinners, yes. Hot Pockets, yes. (In other words, processed crap.) So now that my generation (and people younger) are having children, our children are being born with the most compromised health. Some of our grandparents might be eating all kinds of garbage now, but they certainly weren't raised on it. It didn't enter their lives until their later years. So our parents were born healthier too, b/c our grandparents were eating real food prior to and after giving birth, and our parents were largely raised on better food too. (Even if they frequented the 1950s malt shop for shakes and fries and colas, the food landscape was still vastly different from what it is now. Remember, this was well before everything went low-fat and everyone was afraid of cholesterol.)
Health is a product not just of what we eat, but of what our parents ate, and what their parents ate. (Really awesome info on this in the book Deep Nutrition.) Thank goodness for the healing/regenerative capacity of the human body, because we can overcome a lot of whatever hindrances we might enter the world with. But there are certain things with regard to physical growth that are put into place literally in the womb, and we can only get so far sometimes.
Anyway, that's the very long way of saying these things are getting worse because they've been compounding over a couple generations. That's why we see more children with all kinds of issues these days, but it also explains the adults -- some of us have suffered "dietary abuse" for decades.
Edited to add: Just think of all the people who were put away in institutions years ago - people with schizophrenia, bipolar, autism (although they might have had different names for them at the time). These people were basically thrown away like trash and isolated from society. How many of them would have been fine if someone had only known to get them off wheat? (Or give them sauerkraut, bone broth...) Breaks my heart.
My theory is that it is primarily a combination of 5 factors:
The modern wheat hybrid that has been used in just about every baked good since the late 70's, which may be particularly bad at increasing gut permeability, breaking down that first line of defense, and allowing more whole proteins through to irritate the system, i.e. leaky gut.
The sheer number of chemicals we are exposed to now is just amazing. So, we may be maxed out on our defenses just trying to maintain homeostasis in the face of our daily onslaught, and not have much wiggle room to deal with things that our system would find troublesome because we are already tapped out in our ability to respond without going over the top to a full on auto-immune response.
High fructose corn syrup is in everything, and is a burden to process in the liver in any great quantity, leaving our main channel of removing the things that cause sensitivities from our bodies severely compromised.
We don't go outside nearly as much as we did just one generation ago, so we don't have enough vitamin D on board to act as a steroid and minimize the symptoms of the things that we do react to.
Both we and our and our animal food sources take so many antibiotics now, it amazes me that any of us have enough bacteria left in our guts to digest our food well enough for it not to cause problems.
Interesting question. I think probably the number one reason has to be malnutrition. Yeah, most folks aren't starving in terms of calories, but nutrients.
Vitamin D - folks don't spend as much time outside as we used to.
Dietary fats - doesn't even have to mean EFAs, just fats in general. Kids are fed sugar instead of fat, that's a huge reason why they're literally starved for nutrition.
Whole foods - nutrients are packed as complexes, not isolated vitamins and minerals. Flintstones chewables prevent overt deficiency, they don't however provide optimum nutrition. There are 100s of chemicals in an apple or cabbage, other than the named vitamins and minerals we're accustomed to. They may have human biological function, maybe not essential functions, but vital functions for enhanced health.
I just watched Joel Salatin's presentation on the Real Food Summit yesterday and I thought a quote he used was very good:
When you rely on artificial manures to make artificial soil, then you grow artificial plants which make artificial animals which make artificial people who can only be kept alive with artificials. - Sir Albert Howard, 1940.
How ahead of the times that man was!
Of course, other have made good points regarding the gut microbiota. We don't yet know everything about the intricate song-and-dance these little buggers do and how it affects human health. It is something that has been largely ignored by modern medicine and nutrition. I'm sure there are numerous other factors in play as well.
I think it is probably more because of advances in medical technology resulting in better testing methods.
Also,I would not be surprised if over sanitation and gut flora issues are major factors involved in most of the sensitivities and intolerances.
I think the downturn in the American diet started during WWII when, out of necessity, people started to use more fake ingredients like Crisco because there were shortages of real foods. This was exacerbated in the 1950's with the advent of convenience foods and lots of cakes, pies, breads, and processed foods and food producers began to find ways to produce cheaper versions of real foods and to make more money.
In the 1970's and 1980's the food companies got more aggressive and smarter in how they produced and marketed their products, for example the Coca Cola company changed from just trying to have a significant market share of the soft drink market from having a significant percentage of the liquids that people consume, the so-called "share of the stomach" strategy.
This trend accelerated in the 1990's and 2000's with new "inventions" like high fructose corn syrup, factory farming, and a general corruption of the food production and delivery system that made food more and more processed and less and less nutritious.
The previous generation born in the 1930's and 1940's at "real" food as kids and probably kept those eating habits as food quality in the country declined. But people born in the 1960's and 1970's spent their entire life eating crap foods, and some were never even around people who ate real food. They have also had the government, doctors, and food companies tell them their entire lives that processed foods are delicious and nutritious and that they should avoid the foods that their parents and grandparents ate.
This is coming to a head now because those people are getting to the age when poor diet catches up to them and causes problems. If these trends continue, people will get sicker younger and nobody will even remember what it was like to eat real food.
I think the internet has a lot to do with it. We are more likely to play Dr. Google when something is wrong and to take that info to our Doc. We're more likely to chat about icky bowel and skin conditions. We can compare notes with others without having an uncomfortable conversation with a friend or family member.
May my non-existent higher entity bless the internet.
Two points specific to celiac disease: the testing methods improved right around 2003/2004 when the anti-tTg became the de facto blood test to look for celiac - it's not perfect (too many false negatives) but still is very specific for celiac so there's better testing than previously available. Additionally, Dr. Joseph Murray of Mayo has found via comparing frozen bloodsamples from the fifties to bloodsamples from current population that celiac incidence has increased in occurrence, not just in diagnosis.
Dr. Murray, great lilt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKwKQ7W9qlM
I don't believe he hazards to guess why there is a greater occurrence now but just states that "environmental factors" are the likely cause.
I suspect something entered the food supply about fifteen years ago. Something nutritionally poisonous or dangerous to humans and also household pets. From my own observations, it is possibly something in bread products or maybe flour -- some additive, some process, maybe -- that causes chronic inflammation that then produces all manner of symptoms.
I say this because the obesity and allergies phenomenon is now a problem in countries that do not follow a SAD nor had a similar nutritional timeline to the US in terms of packaged or processed foods: countries like Turkey, the Gulf States, Iran, and Southern European countries -- places where no one ever cooked in Crisco, a lot of food is still largely cooked at home, and children were not brought up drinking full sugar sodas and fast-food burgers.
My gut feeling is that it is an ingredient, or ingredients, that has infiltrated food products all around the world.
I have a lot of reasons for thinking down this line. For example, my grandmother lived on bread and cake all her life (she wouldn't eat vegetables). Yes, she was overweight and developed diabetes in her 70s, but she was not obese at the levels we now see, nor did she ever have any other health problems. I knew kids growing up that lived on sweets. No allergies, no ADHD symptoms, and everyone was very skinny.
Yet about fifteen years ago, all of a sudden, people I knew started struggling with their weight, despite not really changing their diets. Then we had children born in our family with food allergies. And the weird thing? People I knew started to develop mental health problems: anxiety, depression, things like that -- and these were people who lived fairly healthy lives with lots of exercise and fresh air and who never ate processed food.
For myself, about ten years ago, I started slamming on weight. And I couldn't get it off, no matter how much I reduced my calorific intake. But here is the thing...I hadn't changed my diet or my exercise behaviour, and I home-cooked food and nothing processed apart from bread and pasta came into our house. And I remember telling my husband about five years ago that, if I didn't know better, I would suspect I was being poisoned somehow.
I think I was. And I think a lot of other people have been too. Too many people I know report health problems disappearing when they give up bread -- to the extent it is unnerving. And what is even more unnerving is what happens when some of these people eat bread again. I have a friend that will have a menstrual bleed about 24 to 48 hours after eating a processed bread product, no matter where she is in her cycle. Another friend says her GERD disappeared overnight when she gave up bread.
I think it is something you get in bread products. Soy maybe? Or some new strain of wheat? But it is something that is relatively recent, because no-one in my family knew anyone with these kinds of problems twenty or thirty years ago, and everyone ate bread then.