Thursday, December 27, 2012
Re-equilibrating human health
Susan Prescott, PhD, MD makes a compelling case for broadly focused, interdisciplinary approaches to inflammatory non-communicable chronic diseases (iNCD) in her Current Perspectives contribution this month (JAllergy Clin Immunol 2013;131:23-30). She points to the global rise in allergies, obesity, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune diseases and their common characteristic of low grade chronic inflammation while discussing the radical and health-hostile environmental conditions that are known to influence these disease processes. Prescott states that the rise in allergic diseases specifically implicates vulnerability of the human immune system to micro- and global environmental shifts.
The author briefly discusses evidence that supports early immune dysfunction in infants and notes that environmental influences begin in utero. Thus, maternal health is a critical starting point to any preventive measures, such as dietary and nutritional support. She comments further on the need to create and sustain optimal immune development as a prerequisite to minimizing future causes of low grade chronic inflammation, which increases the risk associated with iNCD.
Prescott covers current research on important nutritional supplements known to impact immune function, such as fish oil, probiotics, and dietary soluble fiber, as well as the critical role of exposure to sunlight. She goes on to briefly discuss the roles of genetics, epigenetic modification and genetic plasticity in the context of adaptive and maladaptive evolutionary shifts.
Prescott concludes by urging interdisciplinary approaches to modifying the environment and a return to more traditional dietary and lifestyle patterns known to achieve and/or restore human health.