Monday, September 26, 2016

Portrait of a sick world

An article in today's Mint shows how far the world has moved away from sanity (link at the end). The first few paragraphs are reproduced below:

Is the colleague who sits next to you blowing his nose into a handkerchief, complaining about a "mild fever"  that has been lingering for more than a week? Chances are that he has flu. He should be consulting a doctor, and if the doctor so recommends, should take a couple of days off to recuperate.

"It may sound alarmist but the truth is that if your colleague is suffering from an infectious disease like flu or common cold, and it is only getting worse with time (lack of attention to the problem, severity of the disease, or a weak immune system), you are 30-35% more likely to catch their infection owing to proximity, since flu is highly contagious," says Anu Gupta, associate consultant (microbiology) at the Fortis Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre in New Delhi.

"The modern open workplace only increases this risk," says Monica Mahajan, senior consultant (internal medicine), at the Max Super Speciality Hospital in the Capital. "The centrally air-conditioned halls increase the risk of people going down with air-borne infections. The same air gets circulated for hours on end, making the environment more contaminated with viruses and bacteria," says Dr Mahajan

Sounds Normal doesn't it? There lies the problem.

Time was when people used to roam around in the world where all kinds of 'viruses and bacteria' were floating around, and their immune systems used to take care of them. All organisms in the world evolve their immune systems in response to the environment around them, and over a period of time, they develop the ability to survive in the environments into which they are put. The human organism is no different. It is a masterpiece of design, and it is designed to survive under diverse conditions, in different types of environments, battling all kinds of 'viruses and bacteria' which are actually a part of the environment, not some alien creatures.

For doing that of course, the immune system must be strong. 

Look at what is happening today. "colleague suffering from an infectious disease like cold or common flu... highly contagious... air-conditioned environment which circulates the same air... air is contaminated with viruses and bacteria".... This would be hilarious except that it is a sad commentary on the state of the modern sedentary office worker today.

Since when are viruses and bacteria "contaminants"? They have always existed and will continue to exist. This is like the fish complaining that the water in the fish tank is full of H2O. The fish evolved with the ability to survive in its environment, it developed an immune system for it. The problem is that now that immune system is severely weakened due to the lifestyle we lead, due to the choices we make in our diet ( for lack of a better all-encompassing term, the 'modern urban western' diet), occupations (where the body sleeps and the mind races when it should be the other way round), exercise (or lack of it - the occasional marathon to show that you are part of the corporate wellness initiative only makes things worse), and our lifestyles in general.

We have moved away from the way we are supposed to be, from the optimum way the human animal is supposed to function. And the result is we read things like 'viruses and bacteria are contaminants... dangerous.. highly infectious.. stay away' etc. - for God's sake we are talking of the common flu! 

It is a disturbing portrait of a sick world.

(the link:

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