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      The Evolutionary Determinants of Health Programme: Urban Living in the 21st Century from a Human Evolutionary Perspective

      Archaeology International

      Ubiquity Press, Ltd.

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          Abstract

          There is a mismatch between our palaeolithic genome and the urbanised Anthropocene world we now inhabit. One consequence is the alarming global rise in ‘Western Life-style’ diseases and conditions such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It is suggested here that a better understanding of the ‘Evolutionary Determinants of Health and Urban Wellbeing’ might materially improve matters. Such an approach concerns ancestral diets, lifestyle embedded activity regimes, evolutionary-concordant building designs and town plans incorporating urban green space and cleaner air.

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          Most cited references 30

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          Regulation of the immune system by biodiversity from the natural environment: An ecosystem service essential to health

           Graham Rook (2013)
          Epidemiological studies suggest that living close to the natural environment is associated with long-term health benefits including reduced death rates, reduced cardiovascular disease, and reduced psychiatric problems. This is often attributed to psychological mechanisms, boosted by exercise, social interactions, and sunlight. Compared with urban environments, exposure to green spaces does indeed trigger rapid psychological, physiological, and endocrinological effects. However, there is little evidence that these rapid transient effects cause long-term health benefits or even that they are a specific property of natural environments. Meanwhile, the illnesses that are increasing in high-income countries are associated with failing immunoregulation and poorly regulated inflammatory responses, manifested as chronically raised C-reactive protein and proinflammatory cytokines. This failure of immunoregulation is partly attributable to a lack of exposure to organisms ("Old Friends") from mankind's evolutionary past that needed to be tolerated and therefore evolved roles in driving immunoregulatory mechanisms. Some Old Friends (such as helminths and infections picked up at birth that established carrier states) are almost eliminated from the urban environment. This increases our dependence on Old Friends derived from our mothers, other people, animals, and the environment. It is suggested that the requirement for microbial input from the environment to drive immunoregulation is a major component of the beneficial effect of green space, and a neglected ecosystem service that is essential for our well-being. This insight will allow green spaces to be designed to optimize health benefits and will provide impetus from health systems for the preservation of ecosystem biodiversity.
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            Hygiene hypothesis and autoimmune diseases.

             Graham Rook (2012)
            Throughout the twentieth century, there were striking increases in the incidences of many chronic inflammatory disorders in the rich developed countries. These included autoimmune disorders such as Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Although genetics and specific triggering mechanisms such as molecular mimicry and viruses are likely to be involved, the increases have been so rapid that any explanation that omits environmental change is incomplete. This chapter suggests that a series of environmental factors, most of them microbial, have led to a decrease in the efficiency of our immunoregulatory mechanisms because we are in a state of evolved dependence on organisms with which we co-evolved (and that had to be tolerated) as inducers of immunoregulatory circuits. These organisms ("Old Friends") are depleted from the modern urban environment. Rather than considering fetal programming by maternal microbial exposures, neonatal programming, the hygiene hypothesis, gut microbiota, and diet as separate and competing hypotheses, I attempt here to integrate these ideas under a single umbrella concept that can provide the missing immunoregulatory environmental factor that is needed to explain the recent increases in autoimmune disease.
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              Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality: analysis of Health Survey for England data

              Background Governments worldwide recommend daily consumption of fruit and vegetables. We examine whether this benefits health in the general population of England. Methods Cox regression was used to estimate HRs and 95% CI for an association between fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and cardiovascular mortality, adjusting for age, sex, social class, education, BMI, alcohol consumption and physical activity, in 65 226 participants aged 35+ years in the 2001–2008 Health Surveys for England, annual surveys of nationally representative random samples of the non-institutionalised population of England linked to mortality data (median follow-up: 7.7 years). Results Fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with decreased all-cause mortality (adjusted HR for 7+ portions 0.67 (95% CI 0.58 to 0.78), reference category <1 portion). This association was more pronounced when excluding deaths within a year of baseline (0.58 (0.46 to 0.71)). Fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with reduced cancer (0.75 (0.59–0.96)) and cardiovascular mortality (0.69 (0.53 to 0.88)). Vegetables may have a stronger association with mortality than fruit (HR for 2 to 3 portions 0.81 (0.73 to 0.89) and 0.90 (0.82 to 0.98), respectively). Consumption of vegetables (0.85 (0.81 to 0.89) per portion) or salad (0.87 (0.82 to 0.92) per portion) were most protective, while frozen/canned fruit consumption was apparently associated with increased mortality (1.17 (1.07 to 1.28) per portion). Conclusions A robust inverse association exists between fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality, with benefits seen in up to 7+ portions daily. Further investigations into the effects of different types of fruit and vegetables are warranted.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Archaeology International
                AI
                Ubiquity Press, Ltd.
                2048-4194
                1463-1725
                November 16 2015
                November 16 2015
                : 18
                : 0
                : 84
                Article
                10.5334/ai.1809
                © 2015
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