Why Is Our Generation Sicker and More Allergic Than Our Parents or Grandparents?
Many years ago, I read an excellent article titled “Why your grandparents didn’t have food allergies…but you do” and found the author’s observations spot on. Originally published in 2013, the article contains kernels of truth that still apply today. It was recently updated, and I highly recommend a read.
Not long after reading the article, I engaged in a passionate conversation with a group of colleagues in their 30s and 40s. The topic was the food we ate and how that affected our health. Lis, born French, said her uncle liked to hunt and fish and always brought his games to the table at holiday gatherings. The occasion was a cherished highlight of her childhood. She remembered drinking raw milk at farms and eating wild ducks and boars. The taste was completely different from today’s milk and meat.
Lis remarked that our generation was more prone to serious diseases like cancer when compared with our parents’ generation. In turn, the health of our parents’ generation was worse than our grandparents’ generation.
Another colleague, the youngest among us, said she had noticed those in their 20s and early 30s were getting serious health issues more often and earlier in life than the previous generation. I wasn’t too surprised about her observation — she came from mainland China, where industrial pollution had contributed to deadly diseases and cost countless lives.
I also found children living in my city — Hong Kong at the time — to be more prone to allergies — something that was unheard of when I was young.
As the above article rightly points out, we need to just take a closer look at how food is produced and processed today to understand why allergies and chronic diseases are so rampant.
“I have been eating whatever I like, and I am still alive and kicking!”
There are still a lot of people — especially the older generation — who insist that “eating everything” is good for their health. They often say, “Look at me! I have been eating whatever I like, and I am still alive and kicking!”
What these “optimists” don’t realize is that in the old days, when food and the general environment was not tainted and corrupted as it is today, their body was spared the onslaught of harmful chemicals and toxins. They were blessed for many years — especially in their formative years, which was crucial for their physical development.
By contrast, the nutritional content of today’s food is vastly different. All kinds of artificial preservatives, flavorings, additives, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides (especially glyphosate-based herbicide), GMO, growth hormones and antibiotics have been destroying the “real food” our grandparents’ generation used to eat.
In addition, monoculture and Confined Animal Feeding Operations (factory farms) have changed the nature of our food sources and the ecosystem for worse. Much of the soil in industrialized nations is in an impoverished state and lacks the rich nutrients and microorganisms that contributed to our ancestors’ health.
We could try our best to minimize our exposure to harmful substances through the food choices we make, but the harmful substances and pollution are so ubiquitous that none of us living today is completely insulated from the damages done to our food- and eco-systems.
If these “optimists” keep on eating “everything” in their quest for a “balanced diet,” thinking that this way of eating can only be beneficial, they may be in for nasty surprises down the road.
Which motto would you choose to live by? “Ignorance is bliss” or “Forewarned is forearmed”?