Allergies Are On The Rise

Allergies are on the rise and increases in immune system disasters such as food allergies, asthma cases, hay fever, eczema, lupus, multiple sclerosis and other afflictions have greatly increased in recent years. Asthma, hay fever, eczema and food allergies are all "allergic diseases" caused by our immune system responding to substances that are ordinarily harmless such as pollen or peanuts. Autoimmune diseases, which include lupus, multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease also result from our body's defense mechanisms malfunctioning that can cause our immune system to attack parts of our body such as our nerves, pancreas or digestive tract.

Yes allergies are on the rise and with that brings the focus of intense debate and study from many researchers who suspect the concurrent trends all may have a common explanation rooted in aspects of modern living, which includes the "hygiene hypothesis" that blames growing up in increasingly sterile homes, changes in diet, air pollution, and possibly even obesity and increasingly sedentary lifestyles. "We have dramatically changed our lives in the last 50 years" said Fernando Martinez, who studies at the University of Arizona. "We are exposed to more products and we have people with different backgrounds being exposed to different environments. We have made our lives more antiseptic, especially early in life, and therefore our immune systems may grow differently as a result and we may be paying a price for that."

There is very little doubt that allergies are on the rise because we have seen significant increases" said Syed Hasan Arshad of the David Hide Asthma and Allergy Centre in England, who focuses on food allergies. "You can call it an epidemic. We're talking about millions of people and huge implications, both for health costs and quality of life." One reason many researchers suspect something about modern living is to blame is that the increases show up largely in highly developed countries in Europe, North America and elsewhere, and have only started to rise in other countries as they have become more developed. Several lines of evidence support the theory why allergies are on the rise. Children raised with pets or older siblings are less likely to develop problems, possibly because they are exposed to more microbes. But perhaps the strongest evidence comes from studies comparing thousands of people who grew up on farms in Europe to those who lived in less rural settings. Those reared on farms were one-tenth as likely to develop diseases such as asthma and hay fever.

Several alternative theories have been presented. Some researchers blame exposure to fine particles in air pollution, which may give the immune system more of a hair trigger, especially in genetically predisposed individuals. Others say obesity and a sedentary lifestyle may play a role. Still others wonder whether eating more processed food or foods processed in different ways, or changes in the balance of certain vitamins that can affect the immune system, such as vitamins C and E and fish oil are also a factor. "Cleaning up the food we eat has actually changed what we're eating" said Thomas Platts-Mills of the University of Virginia. Some researchers have begun to try to identify specific genes that may be involved, as well as specific components of bacteria or other pathogens that might be used to train immune systems to respond appropriately.

This starts to make a little bit of sense when we start to realize why Jesus Christ referred to himself as "the bread of life." Food must be eaten, digested, and assimilated to become part of our life that will give strength to our physical bodies. It is written that man shall not live by bread alone. Part of the reason this was written is because the Word of God is food for our spiritual life, and it operates along the same principle as our physical body that needs bread to sustain growth. The nourishment from food is a substance that does not come from within ourselves, but from without, because like the natural realm, the spiritual realm also needs a point of contact outside of the individual. We cannot live on our own feelings, experiences, or upon the sweetest words that come from within, which may excite, warm, or interest us, but cannot support, feed, or sustain our true spiritual growth.

In the new covenant, we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, who entered into heaven itself to appear in the holy of holies, the sacred chamber of the heart of God's glorious presence for us. Jesus Christ is the promised seed and faithful High Priest, who fulfilled all the law, and is set between God and us because he is connected to both sides, and thereby he is able to work with God and with us. My mind boggles over God's heart of love, His compassion, and the tenderness to have Jesus Christ, who is the greatest food of all time, the bread of life, to establish a true and vital spiritual relationship between God and us.

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