For the sake of simplifying discussion of atopic disease we need an idealised starting point. A time, during human evolution, when natural selection and the rigours of survival on an uncompromising planet required us to be at peak fitness, to survive and to produce healthy offspring. Natural selection would keep our, then smaller, population in this state of competence to deal with environmental challenges.
At the same time, a wide range of diseases and parasites that had evolved with our species would be dragging some of us to an early death, or failure to produce healthy offspring. The immune defences of that population, in such circumstances, would be honed by natural selection to ever greater competence and our parasites and pathogens would equally attempt to hone their competence to infect and survive in a changing host population. A dynamic equilibrium would develop, or one or other component of the system would fail to survive. For mankind, natural selection has pretty much paused, except for those genetic disorders that cause sterility, incompetence, or death before breeding age. So where do ideas about atopy sit in this constructed framework? At what point does atopy become a huge risk for the persistence of our civilisation?
The highly competent immune system that evolved to protect us through evolution to our present state has now become a danger to our continued success as a species and is said to be somewhat corrupted by our lifestyle. What form does this corruption take? We are either approaching, or well into, the phase where over half the population is affected by some form of atopic disorder. One has simply to look at the rise of asthma in schoolchildren over the last 60 years, or the rise in the number of adults suffering from irritable bowel disease over a similar period. Depression, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, type 1 and 2 diabetes – all rising in frequency over the same period, along with so many other disorders. This huge affliction of western civilisation occurred as the use of the feeding bottle spread and as the clean preparation of formula milk feeds became steadily more easy. But what is the link, and what is the mechanism that turns the feeding bottle into such a dangerous instrument?
In the past, attempts have been made to identify a cause of asthma, based upon correlation of, say, increase in traffic fumes and increased incidence of the disease, but the correlation is probably one of historical coincidence, especially in countries like Japan. Japan had established dairy farming and dairy consumption during the late Meiji era, in imitation of western countries that were progressing in their industrial development. It is likely that dairy consumption and bottle-feeding of neonates were the key causes of asthma in Japan; this requires a rather more complex investigation. Currently, in Japan, less than 50% of mothers are breastfeeding their babies at one month from birth.
Simplistic linking of atopic symptoms to causes is rarely successful. That is why the diseases are categorised as ‘atopic’ – out of place. My own observations indicate very strongly that asthma is linked to bottle-feeding of bovine milk and the subsequent, frequent consumption of foods of bovine origin, such as milk, yoghurt, cheese, dripping and beef. The trigger for an attack is any substance that could irritate lung bronchioles through physical, chemical or biological activity, such as sulphur dioxide, dust mites, or grass pollen. However, without circulating immune complexes, formed with foods of bovine origin, there is little chance of an asthma attack. Asthma is one of the early, common, atopic symptoms that occur in a population as modern bottle-feeding of infants is introduced to that population. Stop consumption of all foods of bovine origin and you are likely to stop asthma within such a population.
If it really is so easy to stop asthma, how is it that the billions of pounds of research have not identified this approach? I wonder if anyone has had the motive to discover this simple solution. Pharmaceutical companies would lose a great deal of profit if sufferers were to stop their own asthma. The doctor’s role would become far less important and moreover, they have been the voice telling us all to consume dairy products. The drug regulators would have less to regulate. Nevertheless, much asthma seems to be driven by the consumption of foods of bovine origin.
It may be the ubiquitous incorporation of fractions of dairy milk into so many foods that makes it difficult to demonstrate the benefit of a diet free of foods of bovine origin. It may be the fact that a person reacting to bovine foods is also likely to react to foods originating from sheep and goat – simply because these animals are related to cattle through recent evolution. But here is a key warning:
When foods of bovine origin are removed from the diet to stop asthma, if these foods are again consumed after a period of days, weeks, or months, the result may be a dangerously powerful asthma attack! – Especially if the usual triggers are also present.
This extreme reaction results from the normalised, reduced output of corticosteroids by the adrenal glands, following removal of the challenge of bovine foods from the diet for a period of time. Our own corticosteroid production is increased over time during exposure to allergenic foodstuffs to protect us from the atopic inflammation reaction that drives such an asthma attack.
Please read about the intended context of The Kindness of Human Milk.com