Why we don’t live forever and other mysteries of evolution

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Why do we not live forever, we get sick every now and then, and what is the main task of evolution? In short, evolution is not profitable for us to live long. Its main task is not to preserve the species as such, but to preserve and constantly develop genes. From this point of view, evolution is very cynical, it is absolutely not interested in our happiness, health and longevity.

In his fascinating book, Darwin’s Health, Jeremy Taylor writes about why disease exists and how it is evolutionarily justified. Let’s take a look at some interesting facts from the book.

Healthy children

Do you want your children to be free of allergies and autoimmune diseases? Get them brothers or sisters. Or, as a last resort, a cat or a dog. In the 1980s, physician David Stracken established the so-called dirty brother syndrome, in which younger children and their immune systems are daily micro-attacked by their negligent and less clean relatives. As a result of such attacks, children acquire immunity to these diseases. On the other hand, our pathological obsession with hygiene deprives the immune system of such an important stimulus.

The bacteria inside us

The total number of bacteria in the intestine is an order of magnitude higher than the total number of cells in the human body. The entire intestinal microflora weighs much more than the brain or liver. The total number of bacterial genes is one hundred times greater than the number of genes in the human genome.

Dangerous diseases appeared along with the growth of cities

It was found that only 25 infectious diseases are the cause of the overwhelming number of human deaths, and 10 of them could appear only with the beginning of human urbanization, i.e. when we started living in cities. These pathogens could not have survived in the days when humans lived in small groups.

Bacteria manipulate our dietary habits

Next time, when you are drawn to chocolate, chips, cakes, buns and the like, think about it, maybe these are not really your desires? Maybe someone is manipulating you from the inside? Not really paranoia. We explain. Scientists cite ample evidence that our bacteria can interfere with our diet, creating food cravings. However, they cause dissatisfaction and even anxiety until we eat the foods they need, such as chocolate, which not only delights us, but also satisfies the nutritional needs of bacteria. Through the vagus nerve, gut bacteria literally manipulate us. In general, do not blame yourself for sometimes allowing yourself a little more sweets. Your microflora needs food. And she just loves chocolates, cakes and the like. The main thing is not to get carried away too much.

Stress and social isolation are extremely harmful

Scientist Bruce McEwan deduced the concept of “allostatic load”, i.e. wear and tear of the body under the influence of stress. He also showed that stress associated with low socioeconomic status can lead to the development of heart problems, chronic inflammation, neuro-endocrine system disorders, osteoporosis, and decreased cognitive function. Scientists also associate poverty experienced in childhood with further health problems in a person’s life. A large number of studies also highlight the negative effects of negative events, loneliness and social isolation on children’s health.

Our “old friends”

The author of the book talks about the “old friends” hypothesis. It lies in the fact that we cannot live without bacteria and microorganisms, and even helminths and other parasites that inhabit our intestines. They regulate our immune system, preventing the development of autoimmune diseases, and they do not allow more pathogenic organisms that can destroy us. Excessive hygiene, which we are now so passionate about, is killing the “old friends” inside us. The intestinal microflora is becoming poorer and this leads to very serious consequences for humans. Such as, for example, an increase in the number of diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other dangerous autoimmune diseases. The author recommends trying to achieve an optimal balance between hygiene and the natural impact of the environment on us.

A few important facts about pregnancy and childbirth

If you want to get pregnant successfully, you should start trying in the early days of ovulation. The ideal window is considered to be 6-7 days after ovulation. Late fertilization, in the last days of ovulation, carries a greater risk of miscarriage.

According to scientists, the duration of pregnancy is determined not so much by the size of the woman’s pelvis, as the classical obstetric theory says, as by the delicate balance between the mother’s body and the fetus. The hypothesis is that labor develops due to metabolic stress, when the mother’s body can no longer provide nutrients to the baby.

What are the risks of a cesarean section? The child does not get the good bacteria it needs, and as a result, his immune system and digestive tract are at risk of attack by pathogens. Scientist Maria Dominguez-Bello has come up with an effective, but slightly unusual method. She and her colleagues keep gauze tampons in the vxxxxa of a woman who is to give birth by cesarean section for an hour and, after removing the baby, wipe it with these tampons. Analyzes show a successful result of this “infection”. The intestines of such children are inhabited by the right bacteria and the child does not suffer from allergies and other concomitant diseases.

In addition, it is very important that the man is always there. American doctor Daniel Krueger studied data on childbirth and suggested that the absence of a man next to a pregnant woman is bad news for a child. This can lead to shortened pregnancy and low birth weight.

Man was not made for speed

After analyzing the structure of the human body, scientists came to the conclusion that man was created not for speed, but for endurance. While our descendants, who lived in the forests, could not overtake predators, they were able to literally drive prey to death. In theory, this means that at marathon distances, people can outrun even horses.

What books we recommend reading if you are interested in the ideas of Jeremy Taylor’s Darwin Health

  • The Origins of Altruism and Virtue by Matt Ridley. In this book, you will learn about why selfish people are capable of altruistic actions and where our ideas about morality come from.
  • Bonobos and Atheists by Frans de Waal. The author criticizes the belief that man is naturally evil and heartless, and that only social institutions restrain his aggressive nature.
  • The Biology of Good and Evil by Robert Sapolsky. The author talks about the features of human behavior and the complex mechanisms by which it is conditioned.
  • Mama’s Last Embrace by Frans de Waal. New bestseller by the Dutch primatologist and ethologist. In this book, the author talks about the complex social relations of primates and other animals, their emotions similar to human ones – feelings of compassion, altruism, justice.

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